Our Lady is Filthy

Stepped out back for a smoke today and checked on the lady to see how she is surviving her first winter outdoors. (She was made to be outdoors, but life spun on a dime about six years ago and I had to move… this is our first place with any outdoor space since.) So far, so good, but ye gads… she needs a bath, a royal scrub down with a stiff brush. Maybe its just dirt, but it looks like mold growing on the grout which means the indoor/outdoor sealer applied late last summer has failed. And even worse, the grout seems worn down and micro-pitted.

I’m a little baffled about it because two years of testing went into the making and not one of the test eggs ended up moldy or pitted. Yes, we made mosaic test “eggs” to determine what supplies are best for an outdoor mosaic sculpture in the lovely state of Ohio. The weather here is crazy, a roller coaster ride of highs and lows and sometimes on the same day.

We had to make a lot of test eggs because people kept stealing them. Only one survived the full two years, maybe because it was well hidden in a backyard flower bed, but there were several that lasted over a year. My sister Jai helped me make them. We put eggs out everywhere, tucked under plants, out in the sun, just anywhere out there so the eggs could experience the full range of elements. Even eggs hidden in the back yard got stolen.

I made her crude so if someone tried to steal her, they might leave DNA. I was flustrated. People kept stealing the art out of my yard. It wasn’t just eggs. It actually tickled me to watch an egg get stolen because it was snatched by a little kid who had wandered up through back yards. She was so excited to find it… of course, the older kid sent to retrieve the child should have known that egg wasn’t something special hidden by the Easter Bunny, but I just watched and listened, quietly peeking out the window with a smile.

It was the OTHER art stolen that irked me. Someone stole folk art that my dad made me… even a Saint Francis feeding the birdies was stolen, stake and all. And my water feature? They just busted that up. That thing was cool as hell, totally appealing to boys ye around nine years old as they all had the exact same reaction: huge eyes and “wow!!!”

Okay, I kind of screwed up buying supplies to make that. I ordered the sprinkler head on ebay and I didn’t know anything about sprinkler heads… so, imagine a mosaic “gazing ball” done in shards of mirror with just a little bit of color (small shards of stained glass) up a pole with a swirl of copper and an ag sprinkler head on top. Yeah, an agricultural sprinkler head meant to water fields with a “twoo-twoo-twoo” sound mounted on top, ye about two feet or so off the ground. I put this in a flower bed and ran a hose to try it out. It did not gently water the flowers as expected. No… it shot water way up over the flowers – like up and over the garage to water my neighbor’s yards (on both sides, lol.) It was definately a “wow” experience and so cool that even my daughter’s ex-boyfriend brought his new girlfriend’s son over to see it.

Hey… art screw-ups can be fun.

As for this one? Guess it will have to wait until Spring. Then I will scrub her down and figure out what to do with that grout.

What would cause that pitting? Acid snow?


3 thoughts on “Our Lady is Filthy

  1. So shocked that people keep stealing stuff out your yard, what idiots. I have much art in my front garden and no problems.
    As for your grout, you need a sanded exterior grout, unsanded will eventually pit. You also need an latex polymer additive in place of water in the mix. Both these products will prevent the mildew. The sealant needs to be applied once a year after a scrub down. Hope this helps. Your lady looks great.
    Also, what is the substrate, if a plastic mannequin, chances are the plastic has moved and created grout issues. AND what adhesive did you use as that choice can add to the overall problem. Exterior mosaics have many tech issues especially somewhere with climate like Ohio.

    • Thanks for the advice! I used sanded grout with liquid polymer but it might not have been exterior grade as I purchased all three colors of grout on ebay instead of ordering from a supply company. I used a good tile adhesive and nothing seems loose, so that’s good. Her substrate has a core of wired & glued styrofoam covered with wire mesh from the waist up and a heavy wire armature below (recycled metal ring grate, tomato basket, open wire mesh, etc.) Then a concrete mud (forget the exact recipe, used liquid polymer to wet) was applied and pushed through the wire mesh. The bottom up ye high was poured concrete. She’s heavy.

      Thanks again! Looks like I will have to find better grout to replace that lighter grout on top. And a better sealant. I’m so glad you stopped by my blog as now I can visit yours.

      • Well Nancy it sure sounds like you had it all covered, so I am surprised you are having issues with your grout. Can only assume it wasn’t exterior grade but sounds odd if it was sanded. Good idea to make her so heavy though if you have issues with stealing, unless someone is desperate enough to get a crane in your yard!! Thanks for following my blog.


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