Chabot College
In 2011, Natalie Blake Studios was awarded a large public art grant from Chabot College, Hayward, CA. Using grant funds, the studio designed, created and installed ceramic tile murals and other artwork for 5 locations around the campus.

  192” diameter, hand-sculpted, sgraffito-carved, ceramic tile.  Comprised of 20” x 20” porcelain tiles with smaller parts to make ripples and corners. Thin-set mortared with California Department of State Architect approved mounting bracket with Flex-Bond Mortar to concrete substrate wall. Here’s what Natalie says about this piece, “the Blue Ripple Mandala is one of our largest installations on the Chabot College campus.   This piece started out as a gift to the college, and turned into one of our favorite pieces. We didn’t want to cheat the fabulously ugly wall out of the best possible solution.  This wall faced the exit of the new $5 million dollar administration building. Why do we feel concrete walls with all the goop stains and form lines are acceptable? They are a huge NO facing us, as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to make a huge YES with that Blue Ripple Mandala. I had created this idea for a piece as a proposal for another art grant in Albequerque. Cynthia Parker-Houghton (Natalie Blake Studios Designer)  figured out the correct scale for this piece and carved it out beautifully. We envisioned blue for this piece from the beginning, as a cooling agent for the campus.… Read More »

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2’ h x 58’ circumference 2012, 28, 25”w x 22”h cast, lightweight, concrete tiles created from original in carved clay.  Acid stained blue and russet tones. Thin set mortared with Flex-bond Mortar to existing concrete 1.3 foot thick by 19” diameter ring. Art does not exist in a vacuum. It’s made for the eyes and hands of the viewer.  Our Rose Circle piece was made not only for the viewer but for the tactile  admirer.  The deep relief carving on the tiles draws you in and you can’t help but run your hands over it. One can sit on the concrete ledge that is still exposed “rose garden water” at their feet. Here it is before….and then after….   Here is the garden “surround” BEFORE: And AFTER:     Watch us making the Rose Circle.    

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handsculpted, carved, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake Studios

The Mandala (90″ diameter) resonates on a human scale. The life force expands outwards flickering into different colors. It ties into the quatrefoil architectural motif found around the campus. (Quatrefoil:  an ornamental design of four lobes or leaves as used in architectural tracery, resembling a flower or four-leaf clover).    

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handsculpted, carved, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake Studios

The Grandmother Tree is a bold presence in the lobby of the faculty building. This grand pieces measures 48″ w x 252″ h, comprised of 84, 12″ x 12″ tiles. Before any designs were drawn or tiles carved, Natalie and Cynthia traveled to the campus to find potential installation sites and gather inspiration from its spaces and its students. Natalie and Cynthia also got to speak with students, who had influential requests: “Give us beauty” and “a feeling that we are in nature.” “Remind us that we are HOME.” “Delight us with color to brighten our day.” “Don’t give us anything cliché.” There were a lot of artistic possibilities at Chabot, but this location jumped out immediately – a towering orange wall in the midst of a wide open space in the newest building on campus, a faculty building. It begged for a custom designed tile mural of massive scale. Like this perfect spot, it was hard to pass over images of the amazingly stoic and ancient redwood trees characteristic of northern California. A big, grand tree seemed the perfect symbol for this faculty space, representing knowledge and wisdom of generations and the ages in sculptural art. Cynthia, our project… Read More »

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handsculpted, carved, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake Studios

48″ w x 72″ h Handsculpted, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall art tile. This design is a popular piece for us and one we first designed several years ago.  We were inspired by the low-hanging branches of this iconic, Southern tree. The piece is installed in the Chabot College Performance Arts Center.      

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This piece, another of our signature trees, is installed in the Chavez Court on the Chabot campus.  Because of the amount of space that we were trying to fill, we designed the piece in 4 large sections, each comprised of 16, 12″ x 12″ tiles. Here’s what Natalie had to say about this piece: “The Chavez Tree was inspired by sliding thumb puzzles (those little plastic square puzzles from the 80′s where you slide the little squares to unscramble the image)  giving the eyes a game to play moving from color to color and section to section. When carving this one section at a time I was immersed in roots then trunks, branches then leaves. Each section had a different quality from the next. The roots are at eye level; the rest tower above in their architectural niche.”           This short, time-lapse video shows us installing the Chavez Court tree.    

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handsculpted, carved, ceramic tile

Much of the Chabot campus is covered in concrete. Natalie and her team wanted to decorate and color the very bland concrete with her tiles.  These benches are also made of concrete but are a bit more intriguing because of their curvature. Natalie wanted to “punctuate” each bench end with a decorative tile. These 16″ x 16″ tiles also serve to connect the other tile installations around the campus.      

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handsculpted, carved, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake

The Fine Arts Quilt mural is comprised of 48, 12″ x 12″ tiles.  This mural hangs in the Fine Arts Court, a courtyard that connects many different arts buildings. Natalie and her team designed this piece as an abstract tree, made up of different designs and colors. In this way the piece represents unity and diversity.      

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