Nude male Torso
This mosaic was originally inspired by Mantegna's "The Dead Christ" and Elaine Goodwin's "He". The human form is always a subject of much passion - male or female; it has the power to seduce, inspire and evoke very distinct, and I might add, different emotions in people. For me, the attempt at creating the nude was twofold - one, that I might try my hand at using marble as the tesserrae medium, and two, to attempt to create the torso with minimalist colors, while still bringing out the timeless beauty of the human form. This mosaic was created for a very dear friend.
Having obtained the tile from tabvlarasa.com, the first thing that I noticed that it was raw, unpolished stone. Stefano Dazzi from Tabvlarasa sent me a polishing medium called "Mosaic Wet", which eventually helped bring out the subtle differences between the colors. Another thing worth mentioning is that the different marble varieties had different properties (or densities), and that made it quite complex while attempting to cut them. I used regular tile nippers and another pair of nippers from Starrett Industries. Some marble types crumbled easily, while others absolutely refused to get cut!! I eventually decided on using two marble types for the main structure, "Onice Pakistan" and "Verde Cina", with only slight tonal differences. I did use "Verde Laguna" to round off the edges - this one was the most difficult to work with, since it was the hardest, and practically refused to get cut - I have calluses to prove it :-) Perhaps the marble cutting machine (also sold at Tabvlarasa) would probably have been of great help here.
Click each thumbnail to see the full size picture; please forgive my attempts at photography...the pictures below were taken using no flash, but with overhead lighting. They do appear a bit blurred, and that is because I didn't use a tripod. Unfortunately, the veining of the marble does not come through in the photographs, but is a real joy to behold when actually seen.
I first drew the "cartoon" on tracing paper, which I then transferred onto plywood that had already been sealed, stained and framed. Used a heavy, ornate frame as the torso itself was going to be simple and almost stark.
Having done this, I cut as much marble into "little" tesserae as I thought necessary, and started laying them down on the "cartoon"; as you will see, there is not much distinction between the two marble types (colors), because at this point, they are still unpolished. I could have tried polishing them before-hand, but then I would have run into the problem of always having to use the polished end as the "top" - which I really didn't want to restrict myself to doing. The highlight of the torso was going to be the genitals, which I wanted to tile using gold smalti - I did use oro naturale (flat gold) and oro rivestimento (wavy gold) for the genitals, and oro granulato (granulated/bumpy gold) for the pubic hair. Also used oro naturale for the nipples. Having done this, I proceeded to lay down the tiles for the legs.
This is what the piece looks completed with just a light brushing of the polishing medium, "Mosaic Wet". Will have to apply several coats, I think, to achieve just the right amount of distinction between the colors.
Onto the background next. Decided to use smalti and metallic vitreous tiles. Just a simple flow. This is the completed mosaic. I had to polish the "outline" marble several times to obtain a darker definition - didn't touch the other marble then. Polished the "outline" at least 6 times till the marble had developed a darker, polished sheen, and only then did I polish the rest of the body just once. Will now polish the entire torso a few more times before it goes it's merry way.