50 Shades of Clay (or the making of the Equamore mural)

20150218_160346Greetings to all my loyal friends and art enthusiasts!

I wanted to let you all know what is happening in my life and on the Horses of Equamore mural (FINALLY!).

2014 was a crazy busy year for me, beginning with receiving a $4,000 grant from the Haines Foundation of Ashland in late July! I proposed creating a mural I could call my creation from start to finish as a way to build my portfolio and help myself get future work as a mosaic artist. I was excited, but also a bit daunted, as I knew I would have to raise at least $10,000 more in order to really “get paid” for all my work.

I chose the theme of the mural, the horses of the Equamore Foundation, as I felt that there was a strong connection between the community of Talent where I live, and the horse culture that is all around us here in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. I was introduced to the foundation by Anna Clay, owner of the Grotto Pizza where the mural will be installed. Anna is a huge supporter of animal welfare causes, so it seemed a good match to me, and luckily she agreed! Here is a link to the mock up of what the mosaic will look like, minus a good number of wildlife tiles that will be added in to the final piece, in situ.

I also had to go through the City of Talent to get approval from the City Council, and still have to get permits finalized through Planning before installation on the Grotto.

In August I put together an Indiegogo.com crowd funding campaign which started in early September and ran for a month. I slowly started raising money one dollar (or sometimes 75 cents!) at a time.indigogo card copy

In addition to the horses, the mural will also include many other examples of wildlife that can be found in Southern Oregon. I “sold” folks the chance to have their names put onto an animal tile from a selection of around 45 tiles, which will be set into the final mosaic as an integral piece, rather than as an aside. I liked the idea, which I borrowed with permission from Eileen Barr who co-created the 163 steps project in San Francisco. She was a great resource for me in terms of how to handle fundraising and integrating the community into the project. Thanks Eileen!

I was ultimately successful in the last hours of the campaign and made my goal, which enabled me to pay a lower fee to Indiegogo and keep more for the project! THANK YOU to everyone who pitched in, large or small, it all matters! I am feeling so blessed and so happy to have the support of the community, my friends, and my family.

Then I took the next 6-8 weeks for prepping wares for the annual Clayfolk Show and Sale at the Medford Armory, which was also quite a success. More good vibes!

I began right after the Clayfolk Show getting set up to create this giant project consisting of a 27 foot long, 2.5 foot tall handmade ceramic tile mosaic depicting the horses of the Equamore Foundation, a local rescue for abused and neglected horses.

I purchased a “portable” carport/tent to use as an outdoor annex to my tiny studio. You can see the back of my studio just in front of the tent.

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It looks small here, but is 12 x 20 feet of room that I’m loving having already. It will be even nicer when it warms up and I can be out there all the time!

Next, my friend Rick Evans, fellow artist, and previous co-worker from Illahe Tileworks, found me a used slab roller on Craigslist.20150119_142143I’ve wanted one of these for a long time, but never had the space. Now I do! It’s very exciting and I rolled out my first slab today. I’m a little rusty on the how part, but it HAS been about 6 years since I’ve used one of these babies. And I’m attempting to do large slabs of clay — approximately 24″ x 30″. I’m feeling my age today!

Once I’m done with this blog post and the slab has stiffened up just a little, I will begin to cut out the shapes for the first pieces. Whoot! Whoot!

I had the full mural design blown up onto paper at 111% original size to use as a template. I coated the entire thing with clear contact paper to protect it from tearing and make it more resistant to the moisture in the clay.20150129_131949 Then I cut out pieces from the template that would be more manageable in size and shape. I made a corresponding “map” of the final piece so I knew where each piece would go once they were finished.

Yep. I pretty much just made a giant puzzle!

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Each of these pieces will be placed on the clay and cut around as well as transferring the design to the face of the tile as a guide. I still am a little undecided how I’ll tackle creating “mosaic” pieces for the background, but I think it’ll work out. Sometimes you have to figure things out as you do them to see what will work and what won’t.

And finally today, I’ve been creating my own version of the whole 50 Shades genre by doing glaze tests for the project. My own 50 Shades of Clay!20150218_160346

I am using Amaco Velvets underglaze with a clear sprayed on top to bring out the color and protect it from the dirt and weather. I’m loving the palette so far. I realize there are only 48 colors here, but more tests are on the way!

That’s where I am on the process so far, as I am concurrently working on a public commission for the McMinnville Library. This will be a lily pond mosaic I’m co-creating with my friend and fellow mosaic artist Lynn Adamo of Hillsboro. Coverage on that project in the next blog post!

Oh! and don’t miss seeing how all the Haines Foundation recipients used their grant money — join all 18 of us at the Ashland Art Center on March 6th (First Friday) from 5-8pm for an exhibit of everyone’s works and works in progress!

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Finally Finished! “Mosaic Town” photos

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The sculptural grouping that is “Mosaic Town” in situ on 8th St. in Ashland, OR. July 2013

Here are the final photos for my mosaic town project, just completed days ago. These pieces are ready to live in your garden or can be gifted to a friend or loved one. They’re on my website at missmosaic.com if you’d like more information about how to make them yours. They went to visit the garden of my friends Steve and Martha, who were gracious enough to host them for the afternoon shoot. Their shady moist garden was a much better place for them to be shown than my dried up piece of lawn. It’s hot out there this week!

For larger and much clearer views of the photos- just click on one and it’ll open in another window for you.

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Front side view of Little House

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Front side view of Office Building

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Front side view of 2 Story House

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Right side view of Mod Building

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Left side view of Mod Building

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Front side view of the Cinema Building

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Back side view of the Cinema Building

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Another view of Mosaic Town- coming to a garden near you?

Just imagine how happy these will make you every time you go outside!

I create custom work too, so if there’s a particular style, color, or idea you have, let me know. I enjoy making my customers happy!

The care and feeding of your new town is easy. Just keep them inside during freezing temperatures and they will last forever (as long as you don’t drop them on a hard surface). They are fine in rain and heat, and not nearly as heavy as you might think. Check out my previous blogs for all the construction photos and insights into mosaic and tile projects in general. And stay tuned to this station for more adventures in mosaics. Soon I’m starting another couple pieces to go with my mosaic mirror made back in January (for Tampa, FL), and I will also be making several trips up to the Portland, OR area to help out on a public mosaic project for Astoria, OR! I’m excited. Woot woot!