The Settlement Roots mosaic project is a collaboration between myself and good friend and fellow mosaicist Michael Reali. The project is located on the exterior of the Lutheran Settlement House.
The mosaic celebrates this 100+ year old cornerstone of the Fishtown community, featuring portraits of its oldest long standing residents, its programs and initiatives.
The 600 sq ft mosaic is accented with highly detailed mosaic portraiture...
The design began with interviews of the Lutheran Settlement House seniors, many of whom are lifelong residents of Fishtown, and have literally grown up with the center.
arranged to lead the viewer’s eye across the piece and into the building.
A prominent portrait features "Terry" an older woman in the Settlement House, who has just within the past year, learned how to read.
Michael Reali lead a mosaic making class with youth at the St Gabriel’s Hall Detention Center. The students learned about working with glass using various tools, mosaic pattern making, and the local and global histories of mosaic. The class culminated with many personal mosaic pieces created by the students which could be sold during exhibits. The students also created patterns within leaf shapes for the larger mosaic mural.
Work begins in November of 2013, starting with the small wall just inside the buildings entrance.
Garden flowers detail
Jenny and Diana worked feverishly throughout the winter helping to create this seamless mosaic.
Portrait of Mary.. took me 3 days.
Final portrait leaf laid out
The glass arch of the first large wall mimics the center's logo and its colors.
The Lutheran Settlement House has kicked off this major gardening initiative right across the street, which brings together their youth program with the seniors. We wanted to make this central in the design.
Buildings and Fishtown architecture are drawn out in the grout lines, and can be found behind the planters
Our ringsaw needed CONSTANT maintenance throughout the winter. We burnt through 4 rings, 2 belts and some gears. Those portraits wouldn't have been possible without it.
finished, and under layers of tape.
Mike's epic portrait of Joy. It took him quite a long time to finish it in studio. We were eager for her to see it installed in the spring, a huge portrait for someone who was larger than life, but tragically Joy had passed away that winter.
Her family was on hand during the dedication where she was honored. In the photo this portrait came from, Joy had bright pink hair.
Gradients in the sky
Glass garden bed. The brown glass lines were a perfect stand in for wood grain.
First large wall finished.
finished in 3 days.
In December Mike had left for a trip driving from New York city into South America. He got as far as Peru. We had to relocate our project into Jenny's studio for the next two months. This was our 3rd studio move since the start of the mosaic.
The full final wall all laid out. At this point we would study the mosaic and cut out and replace the odd piece of glass to make everything flow.
Mike returned from Peru, and I returned from Jordan in the same week in April, and we got right to the installation. Hard to see here, but we both had killer tans.
Life imitating art
We got the band back together for 2 weeks.
First three walls went up in one and a half days.
Full piece installed, minus some grout
Portrait detail... immensely satisfying to see it up.
Its always good to work with tall people.
Our models would stop by from time to time and pose for us.
Frankford and Master Sts. Fishtown.