Pheasant Hill Park bench
This is one of 11 sculptural works within the park series at Pheasant Hill Park on Green Mountain Drive, Iowa City, IA. The project began in spring 2009 and was completed in July 2011, with the support from the City of Iowa City Neighborhood Parks Association. It was designed and created by Jill Estelle (Harper) with the collaboration from Iowa City High art students, as well as students from ICCSD Hoover and Lemme Elementary Schools. The elementary students submitted drawings themed “creatures of the forest” to be used for the pillar designs, and the secondary school students worked with Harper to re-create them in glass mosaic. The collaborative effort provided summer employment for high school aged youth, with the support of Iowa City FasTrac Youth Program/MYEP.
Below are some photos that show the process:
The first steps were collecting the drawings from the elementary school students. The high school students helped with copying them and arranging them in environments that would work for mosaic designs on our surfaces. I drew out the designs on paper to the scale of the surfaces at the park. The students and I then used the “reverse method” of mosaic work, where we cut out the glass pieces and adhered the pieces upside down to the drawing. Once the mosaics were glued face down to the paper, we took the glass-on-paper work to the location, applied cement adhesive to the surface, and attached the glass to the adhesive, as shown below.
After the adhesive hardened and the glass was securely attached, the paper was then peeled away from the glass, revealing the design. The next step was to check for loose pieces and to apply the grout and sealant.
All sides of the bench have designs in glass. The back of the bench has an underwater scene, with a sunset. All of these fish were originally designed on paper by Lemme and Hoover Elementary students and converted to mosaic. Every student who helped has their name in letter beads as a part of the mosaic. Even under the bench, in the darkest of corners….you will find a giant squid and a luminescent viper fish!
The 10 pillars began as a crayon shape. Due to the nature of the shape, some of the work had to be done on location. This process took two warm seasons to complete, as 2010 was a very hot summer and I was 9 months pregnant with my son, Shiven. I took a break after he was born, and we finished the project in its entirety in the following summer, 2011. Kids love to play seek-and-find to spot characters or their own work in the mosaic. On one of the pillars (near the garden gnome) I designed a small fairy in the mosaic, with a mother fairy nearby. It represents me and my daughter, Shivani, who was age 2 when the project began. She is now a pre-teen!
Grant Wood Neighborhood and Bike Trail Entranceway
This project was sponsored by the City of Iowa City Neighborhood Association. It is located on the 1900 block of Lakeside Drive in Iowa City, IA, and marks the entrance to the bike trail, the prairie portion that links to the Iowa River Corridor Bike Trail. The 4-sided, pyramid topped pillars were designed and created by Jill Estelle (Harper) in 2012-13, with the assistance of Samantha Steine and many other students of City High School in Iowa City IA.
The images below show the process of creating the mosaics, in the art room at the City High School Art Club. Students learned how to tint grout to create color fields within mosaics on this project, and apply it to their own individual work.