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My teeny-tiniest inspiration

Handmade tile designs inspired by the microscopic world

I often get asked where I get my inspiration.  I was inspired by a couple I met at the American Craft Exposition (Evanston, IL)  a few years ago.  Founders of McCrone Associates-- internationally recognized as a world leader in microscopy and microanalysis--Don and Jane Brooks asked me to design a piece inspired by microscopy for their  employee lounge. I researched  imagery of 400X magnification of things like salt, metal, rabbit fur, anthrax!, spores, aluminum....whatever the amazing world of microscopic images could inspire in me. Like little abstract paintings, my carved porcelain wall art tiles captured the marvelous texture, complexity and composition that this microscopic world produced.  I made more than 100 circular tiles, ranging from 4-21 inches in diameter. Click here to watch a great Youtube video of my tile-making process.  My partner, Nick, and I flew out to Illinois to do the installation.  I love working with Nick because he's not only a master craftsman with a great eye for design (his line of furniture will soon be showing in our new Fulcrum Arts Gallery, in Brattleboro, VT) but he also designs and engineers each new installation to perfection.

handmade, carved, ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake

Making final arrangements while on sight, I spent hours adjusting and tweaking my design to fit the space in the best way. Taking off my shoes helped me ground myself so I could see the work and the space more clearly.

handmade, carved, ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake

Nick makes perfect adjustments to the placement of the disks on the walls.

handmade, carved, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake

While at McCrone Laboratories, Don asked me to make a pattern with all the round tiles that we chose not to put in the long swoops in the display commission space. Here I am laying them out in large gestural swirls to install on a stairwell where students from Don's Microscopy Institute walked to and from class each day.

handmade, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake Studios

The study of microscopy inspired a new dimension in my sculptural wall tile and ceramic work. One of the best parts of my job (and my life) is that I get to travel not only around the world, but through different layers of our complex human and natural existence to find inspiration.

handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Beautiful installations

These 14" x 14" sculptural, ceramic art tiles were installed at the Stonebridge Country Club, Boca Raton, FL in 2009.  They've been one of our most popular installations with their rich, persimmon glaze and abstract designs.  A designer from Florida recently came by the studio and said that she'd seen this piece in "her" country club and  now wants to order an abstract design for one of her residential clients.  
Handmade, sgraffito-carved ceramic tile by Natalie Blake

42" x 42", Stonebridge Country Club, Boca Raton, FL, 2009

  Another great installation: 18" x 18" abstract blue tiles. The carving lines and ripples in the tiles complement the ripples in the water.
handmade, ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake

Blue Ripples, 72" x 126"

                     

Tile Wall Art That “Pops” at Fireworks Restaurant

When Fireworks Restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont, was putting on the finishing touches before opening four years ago, owner Matt Blau invited us to install some of our ceramic tile art in the restaurant. He said, "Do whatever you want. You tell me what you think would look good."
After those magic words, we brought some ceramic wall art tiles that we had in stock to the Brattleboro restaurant and began looking at color and design. Our rich glazes worked really well against the wall colors and our designs seemed to fit naturally with the other design elements in the space.  Almost on their own, these two ceramic tile murals found their home on the painted walls. The persimmon-colored abstracted tree, hung on the diagonal, added the perfect "fiery" entrance greeting to make the customer feel at home in the warm, vibrant surroundings and ready for good food.  The mural is set for the perfect feng shui to provide a sense of invitation and arrival.

Ceramic Wall Art as Restaurant Art, Natalie Blake Studios

The turquoise and burnt oak glazes on the long two-tier "window" of tiles absolutely popped over the rich dark purple black hues of Benjamin Moore's paint color "Tulsa Twilight 2070-10". We decided on a simple and straightforward presentation of the tiles that sit over the side bar. They present almost like a transom window at slightly higher than eye level to add sophistication and elegance.

Vermont Tile Wall Art in Restaurant, Handmade Ceramic by Natalie Blake Studios

Vermont Tile Wall Art in Restaurant, Handmade Ceramic by Natalie Blake Studios

On a recent visit to the restaurant Natalie received the following list of patron's quotes about the art tiles from the manager:

"Love the texture and color!"

"They are decorative, yet finely crafted."

"Love the botanical elements."

"Understated elegance."

"Love that the artist is local."

We love working with local businesses, and our wall art tiles are also installed in the second Fireworks Restaurant in Keene, NH.  Not only are the businesses, and their owners, our friends, but we have the pleasure of seeing the art transform a space whenever we explore Brattleboro.

Placing our art in restaurants and doing an installation like this is so much fun for us. It's always a pleasure to find a blank slate, so to speak, to get creative, to work with the client, and to complement existing design elements from the space.  It really gets our creative juices flowing!

Tree of Life installed in women’s crisis center

This piece was recently installed at SafeNet Services, a women's crisis center in Tulsa, OK.  The piece was commissioned by Art Collections, Inc. in Tulsa.   The piece measures 54" w x 108" h.  It is glazed in cashew, pumpkin, adobe, honey, moss, medium jade and bark.  
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Tree of Life, handmade, ceramic wall art tile

handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

   

Tree of Life for Pizza Restaurant

Lovely Mural for Texas Restaurant This piece will be installed in the Cedars Woodfire Grill pizza restaurant in Frisco, TX. We made a similar mural for their Plano, TX location.  Stay tuned for installation shots in the next month. A mural like this is a soothing presence in a restaurant where the atmosphere can seem hustle-bustle, yet the aim is for calm and relaxing. I guess that's why our Tree of Life is installed in so many hospital settings.    
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Tree of Life

Botanical, glazed in creme

This mural, 48" x 48", glazed in creme, was commissioned by Skyline Art Services for a children's waiting room for Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX.  They chose the piece for its soothing, feminine nature.  The subtle, creme color balanced well with the other artwork in the area.  Because it's in a children's waiting area, the client requested that the tiles be less undulated than typical because they didn't want any little hands poking their way behind the tiles.  The mural is the only dimensional piece in the area  
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Botanical, glazed in cream

 

New Installation of Ceramic Art Discs

  These ceramic wall discs were commissioned by Art 3 Gallery, Manchester, NH for an outpatient surgery center north of Boston, MA. We worked with the art consultant to choose tile sizes and colors, using her direction on design and layout.
handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall discs by Natalie Blake

Ceramic wall discs

  Here's a closeup of one of the discs:
Ceramic wall disc by Natalie Blake Studios

Ceramic wall disc by Natalie Blake Studios

  Click on the image to watch a short video of our process:  
Making ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake Studios

Making ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake Studios

New Healthcare Installation

Thanks to Barbara Markoff, corporate art consultant, Artrageous! San Diego, CA for these photos. She commissioned these wall tiles for a waiting area in a hospital.  We worked closed with Barbara to get the right designs and colors for the space.  Each mural is 48" wide x 24" high.    
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Natalie Blake tiles installed in hospital waiting room, Artrageous! San Diego, CA

      handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios  
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Botanical

 
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Botanical

     
handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Botanical

           

Three beautiful abstract murals

These three murals were commissioned by an art consultant for a hospital installation.  The tiles are each 12" x 12". The glazes she chose are: Moss, Apricot, Honey, Blue, Turquoise, Cashew  
handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake Studios

handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake Studios

handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake Studios

handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake Studios

 
handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake Studios

handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake Studios

New piece for healthcare installation

This piece was commissioned for a hospital lobby. The piece measures 36" wide by 24" high.  It is glazed in Robin's Egg, Jade, and Honey, with a touch of Adobe on the center of the flower.   We think it would also make a beautiful backsplash!  
handmade, ceramic wall art and backsplash tile by Natalie Blake Studios

Botanical abstract, 12" tiles