A friend of mine commissioned this mirror for her hallway. Years ago, I painted a really trippy elephant for her, and by a strange dint of association she decided that the elephant needed some dragonflies to go with it. This kind of surreal logic appeals to me.
My friend asked for brown, blue and a bit of yellow, so this was the original sketch – with the curlicues to be figured out later
On the other hand, the request for an oval-shaped mirror didn’t appeal to me at all. Not after the mysterious trouble that plagued my last attempt to have a circle mirror cut to size, when the glass-cutting place had to redo it three times because there was always a tiny chip in the edge. I figured if circles were that troublesome, then ovals will surely be worse.
But since this is my very old friend and she asked very nicely, I relented after I found a frameless IKEA mirror of about the right size, which meant I could buy the mirror pre-made and just have to cut the plywood for the frame. This I could do myself with a jigsaw.
But you know what? Ovals are troublesome regardless of the material out of which you’re trying to cut them. Next time I’m asked to make an oval-shaped something, I will run away. (No, I won’t, I’ll just take the plywood to a laser-cutting place.)
And tiling the edges of an oval? It has to be balanced on its side and rotated in sections as the glue dries so that tiles don’t slide off. I rigged this up for the job.
To draw an oval of a specific size by hand, you use two pushpins and a piece of string. Pretty cool in terms of math, but pretty lousy in terms of precision drafting.
And then to center the smaller oval of the mirror inside the larger oval of the frame, a ruler’s no help at all. The only hope is to break out the pushpins and piece of string again. And let me tell you: IKEA has trouble with their ovals too. Their mirror wasn’t totally symmetrical either.
On the other hand, the dragonflies I’m quite happy with.
If you’re wondering what’s required to make a thin curvy line of light-colored grout while everything else is grouted in dark brown: an obsessive tendency towards precision and a boatload of painter’s tape