Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sally Goes to Auction

Sally was a successful gal at the live auction in October. We held our breath as her price tag climbed and climbed and climbed some more. Bang! SOLD for $6,000!

The entire project raised about $100,000 that benefited the American Family Children’s Hospital and the Henry Vilas Zoo.

Sally was purchased by a private bidder. We heard she was going to reside in his home. We hope she's doing well! We miss her!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A little vacation for Sally before her auction

Sally is taking a little break before her big night on October 22. That night, she will find her forever home provided by the highest bidder!

Alas, Sally is no longer at the zoo. She is taking a well-deserved rest. She's been in countless family photographs and basked in the summer sun.

She will reappear at the Art Zoobilee Auction Event on Friday, October 22. The live and silent auction will benefit American Family Children's Hospital and Henry Vilas Zoo at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton. For more details, visit

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Visit Sally at the Zoo!

Sally is now hanging out at Henry Vilas Zoo. She's waiting for you to visit her and is always willing to smile for a photograph!

Sally's popularity is growing. She appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal, is posing on the zoo's Art Zoobilee map, and is sharing her image with the zoo's Facebook page.

She's one popular gal ... don't miss your change to see her! She will stay on the zoo through September, and then's she off to auction in October. Those nitty gritty details will come soon!

To learn more about the Art Zoobilee, visit

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sally's Postcard

Sally is quite popular, so popular that she has her own postcards.

Sally's postcard photograph was shot by our very own multi-talented Gary N-ski!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Overture Center: Sally's New Home

Check out Sally's new home at the Overture Center's rotunda during The Lion King.

Sally Visits Overture

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Her Eyes Have It

Look at Sally's pretty eyelashes!

Monday, April 12, 2010


The artists, from left, Tom Linfield, Aimee Reid-Rice, Dana Slowiak and Gary N-ski.

Presenting Long Tall Sally!

Sally's final work day on Saturday, April 10 was her grout day. We came prepared with bagels, ribs (the food kind), gloves,
grout, and excitement.

We first finalized our grout selection.
We chose the Mapei Keracolor S (sanded) grout with polymer on recommendations. Grout color samples are hard to read. Is the color on the swatch really the color we want? We thought we wanted a color between white and biscuit, so we thought mixing the two would work. After mixing small samples of both colors, we decided the biscuit looked great on its own. The lesson learned was to always experiment! We didn't want our final decision to be wrong. The color of a grout and how it interacts with the piece as a whole is not a light decision.

We started mixing grout and smearing it onto Sally. From start to finish, covering her from head to toe took just under two hours. (We taped off her eyes, nostrils, inner ears, mane, tail tip, and hooves, the areas we decided to pain
t, not mosaic, to protect them from the grout.) We mixed the grout in small batches, so three people continuously smeared while another mixed. Once we had all the grout on her, we started wiping back the first layer of excess grout, and we then wiped back more with a damp sponge. Once the grout was dry, we polished her with dry sponges and cloth, so that all of her glass shimmered.

We then painted her eyes, nostrils, inner ears, mane, tail tip, and hooves. We used glossy outdoor paint. (All of our decisions about everything put onto Sally were driven with the knowledge that she could be outside, and she needs to withstand the elements.) We spent some time experimenting with sparkles for here eyes.

After 1,000 hours of work, she is ready to move onto her next savanna!

She will soon be bubble-
wrapped, put onto a truck, and driven to the Overture Center, where she will make her public debut for The Lion King!

And here is Sally moving out of the basement, her long-time home, onto new frontiers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ready to Grout!

Sally is ready to grout!

We worked hard this weekend, getting all of her glass pieces in place. Aimee finished Sally's face, after about 30 hours of work over the last few weekends, and Tom, Gary and Dana finished off her fur, and her, uh, nether regions. We also went through many, many band aids, our new best friends. After many awkward poses, for both Sally and her people, Sally is ready for her final stage, grouting. We grout next Saturday.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 20 Work Day ... So Many Teeny Tiny Pieces

Aimee started working on Sally's face. Over the course of the weekend, Aimee was able to finish a small portion. Her face has so many dimensions that each piece needs to be cut to fit, and there is a lot of planning ahead, one small portion at a time. Some pieces are VERY small. Tom and Gary worked on Sally's fur along her body. This part of the project takes a long time. Each piece is adhered to Sally, one piece at a time, making sure each piece is flush with her body. Every nook and cranny is its own little puzzle with its own challenges.

There is a lot of nipping glass to size ... A LOT of patience is required right now!
It's easy at this point to wonder if Sally will ever be finished. We just keep working one piece at time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Vidoes

We have a few more videos, courtesy of Gary N-ski.

Check out this link:

for three vidoes for Sally's First Spring.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Now ... the Fur

After finishing all the spots, our focus moved to Sally's fur.

Sally's fur is anything between her spots, as defin
ed by us. The fur is a light, creamy glass. The shape of the glass pieces is a bit different; they are longer and more narrow, and they fit snugly between her spots. They flow like a river across her body, swirling around her spots, adding visual interest in contrast to her spots.

Her legs are quite bony, and as Tom experimented, we learned the best "flow" was to follow the length of her leg with slight bends in that flow. More of these pieces are cut to size, so it takes awhile to complete a fairly small area. As
explained earlier, the method of adhering Sally's fur is a bit different from adhering her spots. Check out the entry titled "There is a Light at the End of the Spots!" to refresh your memory on our methods.

Work in Progress

Here is Sally during the February 22 work day. If you are observant, you'll notice this posting is a bit out of order. This is Sally in an earlier state and shows how spots were applied.

Watch Sally Come Alive!

Check out these videos of Sally coming to life, thanks to Gary N-Ski!

Copy and paste these links for YouTube.

Video One

Video Two

There's a Light at the End of the Spots!

27,000 pieces of glass.
341 spots.

March 13 was a significant day. We are finished with the spots! All 321 spots are complete and attached firmly to Sally.
Above are images of the final spots, waiting their turns to join all their brothers and sisters on Sally.

For all three artists, working on a three-dimensional surface was a new challenge. Sally has many curves, slopes, and crevices on her frame. Adhering glass to this changing surface can be very easy in some places and extremely challenging in other. Before adhering spots, we placed the completed, yet still-contacted-taped spot onto her body to see how the spots fit. If a spot moved across a curve, we made sure all the glass was flush to her body. We didn't want any pieces of glass jutting awkwardly from her body. We often had to cut pieces in half or cut them down to make sure they were flush. For some spots in extremely difficult areas, it was easier to create the spot right on her body, using the silicone to stick the pieces right onto her body.

We began filling in the space between the spots. This was Tom's forte, as Aimee and Dana preferred working on spots. Glass for spots tended to be a variety of geometrical shapes -- squares, triangles, and random funky shapes. We wanted the "fur" glass, as we came to call the space between the spots, to be different, to create contrast between the spots and the fur. We opted for long, thin pieces of glass. This glass we adhered directly to Sally with the silicone. Each pieces was pretty much custom fit and nipped. Tom estimated it took him about 3 hours to complete about 6 square feet of fur (and the spots were already placed).

Spots Versus Fur

Our adhesion method differed for spots and fur. T
he best method to adhere spots was to place our adhesive, DAP silicone caulk, onto Sally and then place the spots, contact tape still attached, into the adhesive. After about 24 hours and the silicone caulk was dry, we removed the tape. For the fur, we put some of the adhesive right onto each piece of glass and then place the glass onto Sally. It was important for both methods to not have too much adhesive and that it did not squish between glass pieces where grout should go.

What's Left?
We need to finish a lot of fur on Sally's body, including her underbelly and legs. We also will mosaic her hooves a darker color. We aren't quite sure how to finish her face. It will likely be a blend of mosaic and paint. Of course, we still need to grout. We want to use some broom bristles to create a mane for her, and we know her eye lashes are a must to perfect.

Lessons Learned

1. It took a long time to complete the spots, and our tired minds started to show. We had four spots labeled 187! Sometimes it was hard to locate the spots on her body, even though we numbered every spot. We decided a grid system would help us located spots on a future project.

2. Sally is really starting to look more complete. We now feel confident that we can have her ready for the Overture by the middle of April.

Spot Count
341 done, 0 to go!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Work Day ... She's Coming Together!

Here's Sally after Aimee and Tom's work day on March 6.

She's looking good, and they've clearly bonded with her!

Exciting News! Sally's Heading to the Overture!

Sally in the Overture? By mid-April?

Yes, yes, we can get her done!

We received great news. Sally was wanted at the Overture to help kick off The Lion King. It certainly seems fitting that Sally would be there for the show. The catch was that Sally needed to be done by mid-April, about six weeks earlier then planned. We talked amongst ourselves, and we decided that yes, yes we could get her finished.

Spot Count
Many done, many to go, but we better get a move on it!

Better to Test Early ...

Sally will live outside for the summer at the zoo. It's important she lasts and that her beautiful "fur" does not "fall out". A naked Sally would be a sad Sally.

Early on, we decided to test our materials. We chose DAP silicone caulk for the adhesive in place of traditional thinset. We did research, and we learned this silicone would best handle the freeze/thaw component linked to our beloved Wisconsin winters. We adhered a few pieces of glass onto a board, and we threw it into the freezer. When we took it out a day later, and it "thawed", all glass pieces still remained on the board. None popped off. This was a huge relief. We threw this back into the freezer and brought it back out a few more times, just to test
our fake freeze/thaw.

We also wanted to sample grout to see if we like the color of our grout. We pondered colors, and we have darker spots with lighter glass between. We chose a light, sand-colored grout because it unified the glass between the spots. We did consider grouting the spots with a darke
r color and the space between the spots a lighter color, but we decided that it would be too difficult to keep the lines between the light and dark grout clean and crisp. Light grout won.

Below is our sample board. It's hard to image Sally complete right now, but this gives a good idea what she'll look like.

Lessons Learned

1. We were smart to test our materials early. It would be very unfortunate to learn our silicone caulk didn't work like it claimed after we spend hours and hours adhering thousands of pieces of glass to Sally.

2. We have to keep in mind that Sally could live outside or inside
, and it's best to prepare her for as many scenarios as we possibly can so that she can be a happy, healthy giraffe.

Spot Countdown Continues ... and Never Ends

On January 5, we got back to work after a holiday break. In November, we realized we had a lot of surface area (approximately 24 square feet), which meant a lot of time was needed. We traced Sally's spots onto tracing paper, and we took home glass and traced spots. We created spots at home, and taped up each spot with contact tape.

We then brought the spots back to Aimee's, and we began adhering them to Sally. The best method to adhere spots was to place our adhesive, DAP silicone caulk, onto Sally and then place the spots, contact tape still attached, into the adhesive
. After about 24 hours and the silicone caulk was dry, we removed the tape. If we were lucky, all the pieces of glass stayed on Sally and did not come away with the tape.

We skipped the space between spots and decided to fill that in after we finished all the spots. We lived, ate, and breathed spots.

Lessons Learned

1. Each spot is like its own little puzzle ... sometimes a very complicated little puzzle.

2. If we run out of contact tape, packaging tape and book tape do NOT work as substitutes! Packaging tape leaves behind a sticky residue, and it does not bend as well on Sally's curves. Book tape does not hold pieces well. We learned this the hard way as several spots completed fell apart before making it to Sally, rendering the time spent on them useless and wasted.

Spot Count

So many done, so many to go.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

See Sally's Spots

Poor Sally. She is stark white and naked right now.

We are starting to fix her problem. We first drew her spots, drawing and labeling 341 spots. We then cut up our glass and started working.

Our spot color scheme is a mix of warm, rich browns, caramels, oranges, butterscotches, yellows and salmons. Her fur color, the space between the spots, is a light, buttery white.

We are using a combination of a direct and an indirect method. We are tracing her spots onto tracing paper, placing the small glass pieces onto the paper, then taping the pieces, which we will then adhere to Sally. For some areas, we are using a direct method. We are first smearing the acrylic latex caulk with silicone directly onto Sally, then placing the glass pieces right into the caulk. The method depends on our preferences and where the spot is located. A three-dimensional object adds a lot of intricacy to the work. Our current camp has two preferring the indirect method, one preferring the direct.

We will first complete all of Sally's spots, and we will then fill in the space between her spots. Once all the glass is adhered, we will grout her. We are painting some areas where mosaicking would be ridiculously difficult or would look awkward.

Lessons Learned
1. Sally is anatomically a boy.
2. Glass is sharp.
3. We have a lot of spots.

Spot Count
30 done, 311 to go