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Glass Rock Mosaics
A glass and stone art project by Cherrie La Porte
With a career that has spanned over 27 years in North County San Diego, artist Cherrie La Porte is most well-known for art glass, mosaics and mixed media. She recently completed a pair of beautiful mosaics for the Vista library, and teaches classes on making fused glass jewelry. Her glass art is remarkable and unique, blending two different kinds of glasswork: stained glass and fused glass. Cherrie has recently discovered a new medium for her mosaics – stone. These glass mosaics on stacked stone are fast becoming an in-demand garden feature, and Cherrie has just completed a special commission to create one for the San Diego Botanical Garden. She also creates mosaics on single stones, a smaller-scale piece of artwork often ordered by individual homeowners.
How the Mosaic Rocks were born
So how did Cherrie get the idea for her glass mosaic rocks? Well, she’s been a self-proclaimed “avid rock-stacker” for many years, long before someone saw her natural sculptures and mentioned the word “cairns”. Now residing in Del Dios, Escondido, she was inspired by the natural stone she saw all around her that was already a part of the landscape. She enjoys taking something natural and adding a little twist, which is why she has always enjoyed using rock all around her garden. Looking around her yard, you’ll spot these natural towers creating points of interest throughout. (If you’d like a closer look at Cherrie’s own backyard and garden, read this.)
For years, Cherrie’s two passions of glass and rock had been separate. About three years ago, she had a flash of realization: “I need to blend my two favorite things! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!” At the time, she was in need of the perfect piece of artwork that could help her customers spot the entrance to her studio from the highway. She decided a glass stone sculpture would be an ideal monument. Cherrie went to one of her favorite resources, Pinterest, to see if anyone else had done something similar to what she had in mind. To her surprise, no one else was doing full glass mosaics on stone! So, she set out to pioneer a new art medium.
Getting Started – Choosing Rocks
Finding the right rocks for a glass mosaic is a process, and Cherrie doesn’t force it. The rocks have to be flat, but not so flat that they lack character. Each rock must be balanced, centered, have a sense of direction and have a certain appeal that she has the ability to spot. Every single rock is part of the design. She doesn’t even think about the glass until she has a picture of the finished stone sculpture in her mind, picks out the stones and has decided how to arrange them.
Cherrie visited Southwest Boulder & Stone in Escondido to choose her rocks. While visiting the yard, staff from Southwest Boulder & Stone helped her get to the rocks she wanted to consider. She spent time in the yard stacking various stones to plan her whole sculpture from bottom to top. The staff also helped teach Cherrie how to drill holes in the rocks herself, and how to use pins to connect them for extra stability.
After considering all the different shapes, styles and colors available, she discovered that Apache Sunset boulders and rubble make the perfect canvas for her mosaics. Apache sunset pieces stack well, have a lot of flat surfaces to which the glass can adhere, but still have a lot of character. Glass mosaics require great surface connection, especially the bigger pieces of glass. The color of the rock is important to Cherrie - she gravitates towards the red tones that can shine through behind her glasswork. She found that Apache Sunset rock also has a rigidity and stability to it – it won’t crumble over time.
Assembly and Mosaics
Once the rocks have been chosen, Cherrie starts to think about colors. Since glass has some color limitations in shades and range, she goes for bright colors that will add that “wow factor” and mimic the brightest flowers you’d typically enjoy in a garden.
She uses thin set mortar and notes that “glass and stone like each other a lot – they just need a little help.” The glass pieces are prepared and fired ahead of time, then applied to the mortar on the stone. Grouting is the next step to fill in the spaces between glass pieces. She also adds just a little bit of landscape masonry glue as she stacks the rocks.