Mosaics and Art at Downtowne Coffee

Back in 2005 I was a member of a studio called Phoenix Clay and Steelworks in Phoenix, OR. We had shared ceramic equipment, kilns, and our own 10′ x 10′ workspaces in one large room, as well as a classroom and gallery.

PCW -front of buildingw-designWe wanted the studio to be welcoming to the community and we wanted to brighten up the city of Phoenix with our art.

phoenix clay and steelworks -door surround

I decided to make a double door surround for the classroom that incorporated both clay and steel in the form of broken tile mosaics with the theme of a town at the base, and flowers growing up out of the city.

the whole town

The town was going to be smallish three dimensional buildings covered in mosaics. Some were attached to the mosaic surface, others were free standing.

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The stems of the flowers were to be bent 1/2″steel rods that undulated on and off the facade of the mosaics rising up out of the town via the chimneys and smokestacks.

Bright colors of yellow and deep blues were accented by red, purple, and orange flowers. All of handmade tiles.

So I spent five months making this huge thing, and the week I finished I was informed the place was out of money and closing down!

So I took my mosaic panels (on 1/2″ durarock boards), and moved out of there. I carted the panels around for two or more years, trying to find a place where they would work so my work wouldn’t be for naught.

I ended up moving into Talent, OR in 2008, and discovered the Downtowne Coffeehouse right on the main drag of Talent Ave. Their sign has a little silhouette of a town that reminded me of my little city.

P1010382The building had originally been built as a gas station back in the nineteen twenties, and still has the two main posts holding up the porch that you used to drive under to keep you out of the weather as you serviced your auto.

They were looking pretty shoddy when I saw them. Paint peeling off, pretty ugly…and you know where this is going I bet…

I asked if they’d be interested in having my mosaics on their posts! I showed them to the owners, we discussed converting them from their original purpose, and away I went.

P1010367I knew after measuring and messing about that I’d need more square footage, so I had to make new tile, add panels, and cut the panels I’d already made into two.

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P1010947I also added coffee cups that I sawed into halves using a wet saw, and placed them so that they were like the

blossoms of the flowers climbing the posts. In addition, I needed to make a new city! I had sold the original buildings in the interim and so I designed a new flatter city and made new panels to accommodate the posts.

This all took me another couple of months or more to do. I must have had time on my hands back then…! I know I had more energy.

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Anyway, the posts were finally finished and ready to be installed.

That part took forever, as it liked to rain when I was installing, and we found out one of the old posts is twisted like a corkscrew, and other fun stuff to boot.

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But finally it was over! After at least 8 months of work my payment is – “free coffee for life”.

Not a bad deal,  since I live a block from there, and it’s really the only game in town as far as a place to hang out and catch up with folks. I consider it the hub of our community, and am happy to say they are expanding and almost ready to open up and out as a coffeehouse/restaurant – serving more great food and expanding their hours into the evenings. As you can see, this is an old photo- the place has a beautiful new look and paint job as well as an expansion on the rear of the building, plus a painted mural on the side.P1010952

downtowne coffeehouse 4 copyFor the new expansion they decided they needed a new logo- and who else to ask? Me! So with the guidance of the owners, I designed a little city in a coffee cup. This is not the final logo- but close. Next comes the city on the roof that’s been designed by Robert Frost, and perhaps painted by me if I can get a trade on food now…

AND they allow me to hang a few of my ceramic tile plaques in their store entry for me to sell at no cost.P1020237P1020576P1020177

Gotta love this place, and this community. Thanks Dan and Sara Goyette for  making this a great place to live and a great place for art!!P1020496

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Making ceramic plaques

I finally finished Pete and Carol’s tiles last week and they picked them up Tuesday (yeah!).

Now it’s time to make some work for the June “Art for the Garden and Home” show.

Save the dates- June 7-9th up at the top of Wimer St. in Ashland, OR. 
447 Pape St. And 421 Prim St. Both just off Wimer. There will be tons of signs!

Times are from 10-5 Friday and Saturday, and 10-3 on Sunday.

Mary Dee’s garden is also on the Ashland Garden Tour-so plan ahead Sunday so you have time to see both the art and the plants.

I’m beginning this week by making my ceramic plaques.

I roll out my clay the ol’ fashioned way with a big rolling pin, just like making biscuits!
Next, I roll handmade stamps across the slabs to create texture

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After the clay sets up for half a day or so, I cut it into the basic sizes I’ll use for the individual plaques.

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Then I wait several more hours, or overnight to add carved details like wording, or individual designs.

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Once the tiles are completely dry, they get their first firing, or bisque (1830°F).
It takes about 12 hours for the kiln to come up to temperature, and 12 hours to cool.

After that, I either glaze them using handpainting of glazes or underglazes for color-and spray with a clear glaze if needed.
Then a high firing up to cone 5 (2185°F) for another 12 hours.

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After the tiles have cooled for about 12 hours, I can touch them without burning myself.

I add hanging wires and beads to some, others have built in wires on the backs. And little felt dots so your wall won’t scratch!

And that’s why it takes so long to make these little guys and why they aren’t $2 each! Lots of love and attention is taken with each piece, and no two are exactly the same.

I also make these to order-so keep me in mind for addresses, special messages, new homes, etc. But give me at least two weeks to a month to get it done!

Here’s the address tile I made for my house.

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I can do most any color, but I can’t really color match-as that’s a crazy process I prefer not to get too into if possible. But try me 😉

This is just one of the ways I make these tiles.

I’ll save the other subtractive  method for a future post.

Hope you enjoyed your mini tutorial!

Flower Tyme is carrying my work

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Just sold these babies to the lovely ladies at Flower Tyme on the Ashland Plaza.

Flower Tyme is a full service florist plus LOTS of other cute gifts- jewelry, decor, cards, garden art, all nice quality and reasonably priced.

They are excited to be carrying some local artwork so I encourage you to check it out.

These plaques make great gifts! Mother’s Day is Sunday guys-don’t forget.

The Blue Door Garden Store

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This cute little garden shop just started carrying some of my ceramic plaques!

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They are located in the historic gold mining town of Jacksonville,OR in a builing I’m guessing must be around 130 years old. It’s tiny, but very cute and it has really quality products.

They sell fountains, garden art, tools, lanterns, furniture, and these sweet little miniature garden furnishings for making fun container gardens for inside too.

Plus there’s Zoe, the long haired dauschund who guards the door, greets the visitors, and generally makes me smile.

Stop by next time you’re in the area, going to a show at the Britt Festival, or taking in some of the local wineries and scenery.

And tell them I sent you and you’d like to see more of my work 😉

The tiles are coming! The tiles are coming!

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Whoot whoot! They came out great-there will be a line of these that wrap around one step of Pete and Carol’s front porch entry.

About 34 linear feet. I will be so excited to see this project completed.

They just put in all of their front garden landscaping last fall and I think it’s going to be a beautiful final touch.

Their home is a gorgeous Italian villa on top of a hillside just outside of Talent, OR.

As I write this we’re having a thunderstorm rage outside (unusual for this area) and I’m counting my blessings that the kiln was fully fired before this hit.

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The power has been flickering off and on and that’s no good when you’re running a high voltage kiln!

I still have one more load to fire, but I think I’ll wait for a better day to start that one.

Clay gift certificate

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I’m going to my second baby shower of all time (I have mostly child-free friends).
Decided to gift a piece of my art-but thought I’d present this clay gift certificate (still wet) so she’d have something to unwrap at the shower.
Away I go!!