DeSoto State Park-Finished project can be seen in the DeSoto Falls Picnic Area, on the steps leading down to the observation point.
In mid-2018, DSP Naturalist Brittney Hughes conceived the idea of installing an ambitious public art project at DeSoto Falls—transforming the plain cement stairs leading to the viewing platform into a mosaic work of art.
Picture this: You’re standing at the bottom of the long flight of steps at DeSoto Falls, looking up to the top of the steps. On each of the 43 ‘risers’ is a mosaic of colorful stained glass pieces—each riser is a separate piece of art but seen collectively they create a design that is pleasing to the eye. Brittney’s design features the West Fork of Little River flowing down the length of the steps, and a famous John Muir quote in the middle of the design: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul”~John Muir
The evolution of Brittney’s idea has been made possible thanks to the dedication of glass artists/instructors Linda Munoz & Jane Nuckolls, & DeSoto State Park staff member Paige Smith, who dedicated many hours to the planning, logistics, and execution of the project. Little River Arts Council supported this project with a financial donation to purchase supplies, and Kay Stone from Auburn University’s Museum of Natural History donated over 30 boxes of scrap mosaic glass to the project. Stained glass artist Chuck Peters also donated glass towards the risers.
The step riser project was done using the mesh technique, which allowed the project to be mobile. A series of ‘design days’ were planned in different locations, where the community was invited to work on the risers to inspire a sense of ‘ownership’ in the project. Participants of all ages worked on the project and learned the process of cutting and attaching the glass safely.
How it was set up: The technique incorporated ‘tile mesh’, which is cut to the size of each riser (and no, none of the risers are the same size!) As the accompanying photos show, pieces of plywood were cut to support the mesh and serve as the foundation for the glass work to proceed. The riser design was drawn on each board, the board numbered ,wrapped in plastic wrap, and the mesh taped down on top of the plastic. The mosaic glass was glued onto the mesh, and the plastic allowed the mesh to be removed from the board on installation days at DeSoto Falls. The mesh was attached to each riser with mastic, and once dry was grouted into place. Final step was applying a clear grout sealant that was brushed on. Installation lasted a total of 7 days.
10/2019 update from Brittney Hughes:
This project is now finished! The steps have been sealed, and all that remains to be done is to create a dedication & informational sign close to the bottom of the steps that explains all the love and care that went into this project. We cannot possibly express enough gratitude to all of those people that supported this project, those that dedicated their time & effort into this piece of artwork that will stand the test of time.
Check out the other mosaic pieces that have been installed in the DeSoto Falls Picnic Area.....
Pictures from project installation May 6th, 7th, & 8th
We held a workday in DeSoto's Nature Center to finish up the glasswork and make sure all spaces were filled in-it is now ready to be installed!
Examples of mosaic steps from around the world:
A tile mosaic project done on Birmingham-Southern College campus in 2018