When I first spoke with this client on the phone, she explained that her kitchen was dark and that her elderly mother had trouble seeing in the space.
I didn't fully understand the extent of the issue until I saw it in person. Having the same gloss granite on the countertop as on the backsplash made this kitchen a literal blackhole. No amount of lighting would improve this workspace. In addition to being impossibly dark, the kitchen was aesthetically out-of-sync with the rest of the main floor in this lovely waterfront townhome which has plenty of natural light, neutral wall coloring and interesting color accents.
The client chose 'Bend' as the starting point for the project. She selected a neutral matte glass tile in 1" x 6" to coordinate with the wall color in the rest of the main floor space. Three circular mosaic insets were designed to "refract" the lines of mosaic glass and at the same time serve as floating visual markers along the long wall the backsplash.
Final design work and individual patterns were created for the mosaic insets. All cutting was done in my studio. Each inset was fabricated piece-by-piece and adhered to a light-weight fiberglass mesh. As in all my 'Bend' series work, threaded lines of 24k gold smalti are incorporated to define the forms and ensure the composition remains dynamic. 24k gold smalti is straight from the Orsoni factory in Venice, Italy. This is the material you've seen on the unbelievably ornate mosaic ceilings of the Italian cathedrals. And it has been used there for a very important reason: it catches and reflects light like no other material on earth. This unparalleled reflective material has become an important part of my ongoing quest to create mosaic compositions that remain dynamic--changing with lighting condition or viewpoint. It works so well in a backsplash which is at times brightly lit from under-cabinet lighting, and at other times, may have no direct light at which point the gold smalti catches whatever ambient light is there and truly gleams.
The circles for the insets were also cut out of the surround tile in my studio--here's where you want precision measurements.
I worked with professional tile installer, Michael Cozzi. For installation of glass over an existing granite backsplash, Michael roughed the surface and applied a thin layer of thinset in advance of installation. Grouting was done on 2 separate days. The surround tile was grouted with a matching neutral grout. I grouted the mosaic insets on another day with a dark charcoal grout, enhancing the strong contrasts within the piece.
At the time of the installation, the client agreed to extend the straight lines of mosaic glass around the other 2 walls of the kitchen. This added another day to the project but made for a truly spectacular installation that integrated the entire kitchen.