Tondos for Pi Art Squared - An exhibit celebrating the circle

I'm thrilled to announce that I will be exhibiting in Pi Art Squared, the brainchild of artist Kate Taylor.  Kate has always loved the idea of painting on circles, or tondos and a few years ago, she came up with the idea of having a show... like a square foot show.. but all 12" tondos. Her husband came up with the name and so, Pi ART Squared was born. This year’s exhibit takes place March 11 – 20, 2022 at the Art Alchemy Art Studio and online. 75 artists were accepted into the exhibition, each contributing 1 - 5 round artworks each. The exhibit includes artists from across the country, showcasing a huge variety of subject matter, style and techniques!

Here’s part one of a two-part blog taking you behind the scenes in my studio as I prepare the tondos and create artworks for exhibition in Pi Art Squared. 

Before I begin here are some definitions I’ve found helpful:


  1. A round painting, relief, or similar work of art.
  2. A plate or dish with a flat rim very wide in proportion to the size of the center, and usually decorated with especial reference to the border painted upon this rim or marly.
  3. A round picture or other work of art

The number π is a mathematical constant, approximately equal to 3.14159. It is defined in Euclidean geometry as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and also has various equivalent definitions.


Artist Nicola Woods holding tondo panel made by Rustic Burl & Co.
Each artist works with a 12-inch circular panel made by Rustic Burl & Co. I decided to go with a trio of tondos for the exhibit.

Most of the other artists are painters and the submission details stipulated no reproductions, so I assured the exhibit organizers that although I'm not a painter but I take a painterly approach to photography in that I usually create one unique piece instead of editions.

This is my first time adding metal leaf to a panel this size and I’m happy to report that it worked out well.

To prepare the wooden surface for leafing I applied 2 coats of prime and 3 coats of grey paint. This undercoating paint seals the wood surface and ensures that the adhesive size (glue) needed to adhere the metal leaf doesn’t get absorbed by the wood.

Roll of metal leaf with wooden circular panel, cotton gloves and scissors on a table
I’m working with Nazionale Aluminum Ribbon Leaf that I order from Kama Pigments in Montreal  You can also purchase leaf in smaller sheets but I prefer working with ribbon leaf because I like the way it covers larger surfaces.


Hand holding pencil, ruler placed across a grey painted circular panel of wood
To cover the 12 inch tondo I used two sections of ribbon leaf and carefully measured and marked the tondo to make sure the sections were applied evenly.


hand holding brush applying glue to side of wooden circle
I want the metal leaf to wrap over the side of the tondo so I applied glue to the side and back first.


Hand holding brush applying glue to wooden panel
After applying adhesive to the side and back I flipped over the tondo and applied the adhesive to the front (one half at time since it dries quite quickly.)


Hand holding scissors cutting a section of metal leaf
To cover the tondo I cut a 15 inch section of leaf.


Pencil on a table, circular wooden panel with metal leaf draped on it
If you’ve ever made pie, you’ll recognize this technique of cutting flaps so that the piece of metal leaf fits to the circle.


Pair of scissors on a table surface. Wooden circle with Rustic Burl & Co lettering visible.  Pieces of metal leaf adhered to the wood
Here’s a view of the backside of the tondo with excess leaf that I’ll clean up later.


In my next blog post I’ll show you the next steps, including cleaning up the excess leaf, a fully covered tondo and the final result after I apply the image on the tondo surface.

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