Weekly Photo Challenge: “Wall”

The Inspiration…

For the wall…

Bisque tiles to glazed tiles…

Numbered and coded for installation.

Trunk tiles, leaf tiles positioned on glue sheets…

then, grouted into place.

2013-04-17T07-54-57_3

 The Bigleaf Maple welcomes us into our laundry room;

 and provides Kirby a favorite place to rest.


My laundry room was a boring place until inspiration hit one night! As if out of nowhere, the idea came to me… why not create a ceramic tile mural of my favorite Bigleaf Maple tree on that wall?

That is exactly what I set about doing. I love working in clay. The tiles for the trunk were created by taking clay slabs outside, flopping them on the tree pictured above, and rolling out the slabs to capture the texture of the actual bark. The clay “bark” was designed into puzzle-like pieces to fashion the tree base. Hefty collections of fallen leaves were placed on other slabs of clay and processed through my slab-roller. Each leaf was then individually hand cut out from the slabs. A collection of about 160 or so clay leaves were made. All the leaf and bark tiles were permitted to dry, then fired, glazed, fired again, and placed in the mural design.

It’s still a work in progress. I’d like to add some more leaves to extend the 3-D nature of the mural… and perhaps a bird in a nest would be nice!  What do you think?

BIGLEAF MAPLE – Acer macrophylum

Large, often multi-stemmed, to 35 m tall; young bark green and smooth, older bark gray-brown; ridged and often covered with mosses, lichens, and ferns. Grows in dry to moist sites, often with Douglas-fir. Common to find on sites disturbed by fire, clearing or logging; at low to middle elevations. Prolific winged seed production provides a favorite food for squirrels and birds.

This tree was called the “paddle tree” in many First Nation languages. Maple was used to make paddles.

This week’s challenge: “Wall

29 comments

  1. Jane,what an inspiring and beautiful way to bring nature into your home! Like Kirby, I would want to hang out in the laundry room with this striking expression of your love for nature. Well done, and it will be so interesting to see it continue to grow, too! Yes, your neighbors must have wondered what you were up to with the rolling to get the bark texture. I admire your creativity for this project.

    The leaves reminded me of a raku pottery class my daughter and I took at a community college when we lived in the SF Bay Area (where the teacher asked us to take leaves and items from nature too, for adding texture to our items). To find out that “raku” means “enjoyment”, “comfort” or “ease” was a surprise to me, and I imagine you felt all those terms as you put this idea to reality.

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    1. Lola Jane, Your comments seem to have a way of making me- smile, reflect, and/or learn something new.

      That is true today 🙂 I am smiling because of your friendly thoughts.
      Reflecting back on a raku course taught by one of my favorite under-grad professors years ago, and
      learning something new- what the term raku means.
      Thank you ❤

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  2. Stunning- Jane I adore how you brought your favorite tree inside! What fun those installations in your school must have been. We had an art teacher once who let her students use the ceiling tiles as canvases- then replaced them into the ceiling in her hallway. Loved that! Thank you for the tip on the “Simplemat.” What a great product to put tile projects in reach for us novices! Great technique to roll the slabs onto the bark.- Best wishes, WG

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    1. Oh! That is so cool!!! If I was still teaching, and could get away with that, I think that’s so wonderful.
      At times, I used the ceiling as extra bulletin-board space… but nothing that permanent 😉
      __________
      It was a funny experience rolling the clay on the trees… it caught the attention of several neighbors who wondered what on earth I was doing! Now that they’ve seen the finished product- it all makes sense.
      ~ Have a lovely weekend.

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      1. Thank you Jane. I shared your post with a former elementary art teacher friend who is also a potter. She makes lovely free form leaves into shallow bowls. I know she’ll love your installation. There was never enough bulletin board space when I was teaching, either, and I always had artwork mounted on the walls or hanging from the ceiling 😉 What fun! Best wishes, WG

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow!! I love it! You’ve inspired me! My favorite medium is glass, but I have done very little with mosaics. Maybe I’ll try a mural. Good for an hour or two of fun, right? (I’m sure that’s all the time it took, right? 😉

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    1. LOL… I suppose if we said an hour or two of fun a day for about a month or so… that would be about right 😉
      Yes, Maggie,try a mural. It’s a very satisfying feeling and provides a proud sense of accomplishment once all the steps in planning and production come to the finished product. Start with a small one as a prototype. That way you get a feeling for the process before tackling a larger project.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL… I do tend to be quite the dabbler!
      Ceramic tile murals have long fascinated me… Was an artist in residence during part of my teaching career. Organized and facilitated school-wide tile projects. Now THOSE were very awesome walls. What I loved the best was standing off to the side when the murals were unveiled and to watch the expressions on the kid’s faces. That’s a life is good moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How did you get all the clay to stick to the wall? Cement, I’m guessing…but I wonder about the weight of it? (We can never do anything permanent like this because we are always moving home.)

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        1. A company named “Simplemat” produces mats that have special adhesives on both sides. The back stick to the wall. The top of the mat has raised adhesive especially made to bond the tiles without messy mortar. It’s great because there is no waiting between setting the tiles and grouting. It’s made for backslashes, countertops, and shower walls. So far… no problems with tiles loosening. Makes tile mural-making a real joy!

          Agreed- it would be difficult to leave behind… unless… it was a project done in a school or other public place!!

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