(1) Grout day!

August 17, 2011

There are only 10 butterflies left that have to be installed. I needed a change of pace so I started grouting today instead.

I started with Suzanne Demeules' Monarch butterfly because it was at eye level (no bending at 8 am!) and it was very flat.

Here's the before photo:

© Suzanne Demeules
Then...covered with grout...

And after being cleaned...

The black grout enhances the brightly colored glass and adds cohesion to the artwork.

I was met with a fair amount of horrified reactions from visitors who were watching me cover the butterflies with the black grout. I have to admit, the process is a bit shocking after seeing all of the butterflies on the wall for the past week without it.

As much as I hate this step (and grouting in general), it's a necessary evil. The grout seals the edges of the glass to stop moisture from seeping in and it fills the spaces between the tesserae.

Dark grout definitely has the power to bring a mosaic to life. Here are some examples...

Cindy Sbrissa's "eye" butterfly just pops!

© Cindy Sbrissa

© Cheri Bosela

© Linda Biggers

© Eve Lynch

© Lynn Dubnicka
My Winged Sasquatch butterfly - available to order here - needed a collar of grout all along the bottom of the body. Those glass pieces were very sharp without it.

© Eve Lynch

© Ekaterina Chumachek
Here are some other photos of the grouted mosaics in the cloud.

The day went by too fast. It was very hot and humid, even under the building and it smelled very barn-yardy today. There was no mistaking that I was working around animals...but I'm not complaining.

Elvis the Feral Hog and my buddy Buffalo Bill, the Sulcata Tortoise, are great company.

Today's Observations

Installing a mosaic on a textured stucco wall can be a challenge.

On one hand, installing over the texture gives the mosaic an opportunity to catch the light. On the other hand, grouting with a dark color is time consuming.

Black grout gets stuck in every nook and cranny and requires some extra patience and improvised tools.

After digging the majority of unwanted grout out of tiny crevices with my sponge, I finally decided that I needed a toothbrush. Luckily one of the staff members had a few on hand and it made things so much easier!

Instead of using a Kemper rubber finishing tool like I did at the Messina Mural Project, I used a foam pool noodle cut into small sections as my grout float. (It's that blue chunk in the photo above.) It worked like a charm! 

I also tried to use a Gap flip flop cut into pieces (channeling McGyver maybe?) but it was too stiff for the small pieces in some of the mosaics and I couldn't really "feel" what I was doing. It would probably work great on a flat mosaic, like a backsplash.

The soft foam of the pool noodle was perfect. It was light enough that it didn't dislodge any small pieces of glass and I just tossed it out and cut another piece when it started shredding to bits.

I even found some Nitrile gloves that managed to stay on all day long without breaking (although I went through 6 pairs of them). That alone was a major victory for me. I usually end up with black stains up to my wrists after grouting.

Project Updates
  • I created business cards for the project that will be placed in a colorful card holder near the installation. The cards will direct visitors to the Butterfly Project blog where they will be able to connect with the donating artists and read about the installation process.
  • The Buy a Butterfly program is live! Visitors can purchase a mosaic butterfly that will be created and installed on the wall in their name. Donors will receive a special page on the blog with a photo of their butterfly and the Calusa Nature Center will receive a $50 donation.
  • Joe & Lorane from Mosaic Monkey are creating custom word tiles for a permanent sign that will be installed on one of the columns. It will echo the message that the Butterfly Project is a collaborative art installation featuring 150+ butterflies from 90 artists and will include the blog URL.

That's all for now. More grouting tomorrow!


  1. I love the way black grout pulls it all together! Thanks, Eve. Looking great.

  2. I am following your progress every day. Thanks for being such a techie! It's so fun to get home from work, log on and see what you did each day. I can't believe the black grout does not discolor the white stucco! Fantastic and I marvel at the diversity of each artists interpretation of the Butterfly Theme. Danette

  3. Really exciting to see the grout bringing them to life. Love seeing the daily round of the centre too. Rich, rich content:)


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