Gravel Art 101

Posted on Sep 2, 2014 in gravel art, uncategorized, vintage gravel art | 4 Comments

asian landscape gravel art pair Maybe you didn’t know what they were called… But you’ve definitely seen them. Some make you want to choke on their tiny parts, while others make you swoon over their kitschy opulence… Gravel art, as this art form is most commonly known as, was at its peak in the 1960s. Available in a wide variety of crafty kits and ready-made panels, these mosaics were created predominantly with crushed glass and chips of marble. Sequins, glitter, beads, acrylic gems, aquarium rocks, specialty ceramic tiles, and custom molded plastic pieces were also common embellishments. Typically the imagery was outlined in cording, and then filled in or “painted” with the gravels— similar to a paint-by-number, which was invented by Dan Robbins in the 50s for Craft Master. (A very comprehensive collection of PBNs can be found at the Paint by Number Museum.) In 1960, an artist named Jane Gaylor adapted the concept to use small colored pebbles, and this is where gravel art as we know it was born. Or, so I believe, from the pieces I’ve been able to put together…

eiffel tower on velvet gravel art

eiffel tower on velvet gravel art

vintage curious cats gravel art Gravel art has been made on a multitude of surfaces, including wood, wallpaper, canvas, burlap, velvet, veneer, and linen. The motifs cover the gamut from poodles, to Chinese landscapes— if you can in fact imagine everything that fits between those parameters. The kits were often offered in pairs. Because the only thing better than spending weeks of your life meticulously gluing cord and tiny rocks to a board, is doing it twice! But it was a wildly popular medium, as exemplified by the vast offering you can find on eBay.

partially done mid century gravel art kit

partially done mid century gravel art kit

But who could resist this marketing? One Craft Master sell sheet for a tapestry kit reads (I left their capitalizations intact): “Presenting a masterful blending of ancient art forms modernized to excite contemporary tastes. These elegant mosaic tapestries marry the exotic woven charm of East Indian Jute with the dazzling color brilliance of Crystals and Crushed Marble. On simple pre-planned panels You create a symphony of texture and color as you mate these ancient arts to make a wall hanging of everlasting beauty and impressiveness.”

vintage still life-fruit basket gravel art

mod minstrel geometric couple gravel art   rooster on wood gravel art

Impressive, indeed! So there you have it. A quick lesson on Mid Century’s kitschiest, and possibly most identifiable art form. Doesn’t it make you want to do your own? Well hang on to your propeller beanies, Atomic Crush Design is going to revive it in all its tiny pebbled glory… Stay tuned!!!

vintage poodle pair pebble art

 

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4 Comments

  1. Jeanne Abbate
    October 9, 2014

    I adored this art as a child and would be very interested for my classes I teach!!

    Would you happen to know if the plastic mosaic by number toys are available as well?

    Please keep me posted if kits will be available!!

    Thank you!!

    Jeanne

    Reply
    • KymmBang
      November 7, 2014

      Hi Jeanne, sorry for the delay! Do you mind if I ask what you teach? And I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re referring to by the plastic mosaic toys, but if any are out there, I’d check ebay or etsy for them! And thanks for the interest in the kits, I’m working on designs today! If you’ve signed up for our newsletter, you’ll get an email when they’re available :)

      Reply
  2. Sheryl
    January 18, 2016

    Do you have any advice on cleaning an existing gravel art piece? I recently inherited a piece that my Mom did back in the 60’s and it’s pretty dull looking. Especially the white ‘background’ part. It hung on the wall for most of my childhood, so I’d really like to preserve it. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. Ada Lis (Puerto Rico)
    February 4, 2016

    Hi… I am very interested in knowing where can I buy gravel and panels to do pictures as beautiful as the ones above.

    Thank you Ada Lis

    Reply

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