This week I was waiting on customer who wants to do mosaic something that will be outside. When she asked for the correct products, I could not help but think of this situation that was written about in the Fall and Winter 2017 issues Stained Glass magazine. (Info comes from there and an article in Alabama Living.) All I could think of was “make sure it is weather proof!” This amazing piece of art is located at the Huntsville, Alabama First Baptist Church. It took seven years to complete (1966 to 1973) and contained approximately 1.4 millions pieces of Italian tile – none larger than a thumbnail.
This mosaic is giant! There are seven bays and each bay is 18’x45’. It is about 5,600 sq ft of mosaic. It made the news because it was falling apart! A team went in to asses the issues. They determined the problems were: Glass tiles were used instead of smalti, (Smalti are ½-1/3 the size of tiles but twice as thick. Smalti do have a beveled edge) the mounting of the tiles to a netting with epoxy was not the best method, the materials used were of dubious quality, the cements used to install the mosaic were not the best choice, and the methods used to apply the cement and mosaic sections were suspect and probably incorrect. Within a year of the installation glass started to fall! 50 years later the team was trying to determine the best way to fix it.
The decision was made to remove the entire mosaic and replace it with new. The design was to be reproduced and this time fabricated and installed correctly! The color palette was to remain the same, but it was allow to increased the depth of color and make some minor corrections to the design. This project is still going on. At the time of the Winter issue of Stained Glass bay two was complete and Bay 3 was underway, schedule to be complete by Easter.