Tag Archives: ceramic tile wall mural

Perry Harvey, Sr. Park

A History Through the Art

Perry Harvey, Sr. Park, Tampa, FL Located at 900 E. Scott Street, the park is a place where generations can come together to share the history of the Central Avenue, through art, music, and cultural attractions.

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Clay Tile Murals by Natalie Blake Studios

The Encore!® trio of murals, was made by Natalie Blake Studios This Public Art Installation was commissioned by the City of Tampa and Bank of America in 2014 as part of the Perry Harvey, Sr. Park.

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History of the Scrub and Central Avenue

City-of-Tampa-Perry-Harvey-Park-Natalie-Blake-Studios-H "The Scrub, once Tampa's oldest and largest African American neighborhood, traces its history to just after the Civil War, when newly freed slaves built homes in a scrub palmetto thicket outside of the Town of Tampa. The heart of the Scrub was the Central Avenue Business District."

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~ Visit ~

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If you are in Tampa, Florida be sure to visit the park, and wander through the neighborhood! If you see the three Natalie Blake murals, send us your photos so we can add them to this post! Thank you!

Perry Harvey, Sr. Park 900 East Scott Street Tampa, Florida Information for Perry Harvey, Sr. Park: Phone: (813) 274-8854 Email: specialevents@tampagov.net

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Residential Backsplash

We just received some photographs of a custom backsplash we did for a client in 2014. I am sure that she has waited a long time to put up these tiles, but now that she has them, she can enjoy them for years to come!                     Their kitchen is fully renovated, and she has sent photographs of her Natalie Blake Studios tiles above her stovetop. Doesn't it look gorgeous? We can make custom tiles to fit your interior ~ with endless designs and over 40 glaze colors, let us work with you to make your environment glorious.                       Our tiles are the perfect medium for a backsplash. Contact the studio so we can help you with your design, and answer any questions you might have.

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

Making a Tree of Life mural

  Once again our popular, handmade, carved, ceramic Tree of Life wall tile art will adorn a public space: this time a church in Florida.  The piece, measuring 36" x 36", will be hung in the lounge at the church. Cynthia Parker-Houghton, studio designer, created this piece. We thought it would be fun to document the process of making this piece. handmade, carved, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake     The first step in the process is laying out the handmade forms over which the clay tiles will drape, thus creating undulations in the tiles.  Here's what Cynthia says about this step: "The reason I stay interested in this tree icon is because it is familiar, comforting, grounding. And I think these qualities are especially important when the piece will be displayed in a sacred space.  When I lay out the forms, I always start with the trunk--the forms flow out from there and down into the roots.  I get the feeling that these forms represent the flow of energy from the nutrients in the soil to the roots, up the trunk and out the leaves. Because of our carving style--we carve away the black slip to reveal the white clay underneath, the piece has an energetic look to it.  You can imagine the wind and the particles flowing around it. "
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Laying out the forms over which the tiles will be slumped. This will create the undulations in the tiles

   
forms laid out

These forms create the "skeleton" of the tree

 
tiles on forms

Clay tiles take the shapes of the forms beneath them.

  After the clay is laid over the forms we paint on the slip:   handmade ceramic tiles DSC_0002 2   After the slip dries we begin carving, using a special tool that removes the darker slip. handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall tile by Natalie Blake   Cynthia Carving tree handsculpted, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake   Here's what Cynthia has to say about carving: "I get inspiration from nature.  As I'm carving I'm not thinking of a specific species of tree but the "feeling" of the tree-- the sturdiness or the delicateness or other qualities that the tree embodies.  I can feel those as I'm carving. There's always a little personification too: like this is the body of the tree, these are the arms. My carving style is a kind of dance. I use my whole body when I carve. If I just use my hand I don't have the grace.  So I use my shoulder, my whole arm, my trunk,--there's a flow to it.  The lines I choose to make are based on that flow. Sometimes it's appropriate to make small, tight lines, but generally I use more fluid, flowing lines."   The final steps are bisque-firing and glaze-firing, which takes about a week.  We then glue on our custom backings for easy hanging.  Start to finish, the process takes about 4-5 weeks.  

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, "Stay awhile." The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say, "and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine."

    -Mary Oliver

   

What size should my artwork be?

  Unless you work with an interior designer, it may be difficult to know what size wall art will look best in your space.  When it comes to finding the right size wall art, there are a few tips to keep in mind so that you don't overwhelm (or underwhelm) your space with your art: In general you should work around furniture, using the general rule of covering 1/2 to 3/4 of that area with your artwork.
  • One guideline is that the artwork should take up 4/7 of the selected space.  Here's a math trick to help you figure that the size of the art you need:
  • Measure the width (or height) of your wall space, in inches.  Multiply that number by .57
  • So, for example, if your area is 36 inches wide, you want to look for art that's 20-21 inches wide.
Here's an example of an appropriately-sized mural for this wall. The width of the wall is 96". Using the calculation outlined above, the artwork for this wall should be 54" wide. This ceramic tile mural, Live Oak, is comprised of 12" x 12" tiles, with 1/2" spacing between tiles. So the width of the piece is about 50".  You can see that the mural fills the space nicely, with a nice "frame" of wall around the piece so that the room doesn't look cluttered by the artwork.   sculpted, carved ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake   In the example below the width of the wall is 144".  Using the calculation, the mural should be about 82".  The mural is 75" wide.  Even without using the calculation we can see that the piece fits in the space. A large room such as this, with high ceilings, can take a larger piece of artwork.  The benefit of a ceramic tile mural like this one is that the work can be appreciated from a distance, or up close to see the carving lines. sculpted, carved, ceramic tile mural   ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake   Feel free to contact the studio if you'd like help determining what size ceramic mural would fit your wall. Our tiles are made in sizes from 12" -20" square.  If you send us an image of your wall/space we can Photoshop a mural into the image to give you an idea of what the piece will look like.                                          

Architextural tiles

sculptural, custom, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake We developed this line of tile to showcase at the 2014 Architectural Digest Home Show.  It was a big hit!  Each tile is handmade, carved in our signature sgraffito style. The bold, gestural lines accentuate the sculptural undulations in the tile and almost read like topographical lines. These tiles can be grouped in any configuration, customized in any of our sizes from 12" - 20" square, and glazed in any of our 33 rich, luminous glaze colors.   ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake   An interior designer in south Florida is commissioning these tiles for a residential, exterior installation. 15, 12" x 12" tiles will hang as panels and 6, 18" x 18" tiles will be grouted in as a backsplash in the outdoor kitchen.   sculptural, custom, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake       sculptural, custom, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake

One of our favorites!

Our signature Dahlia is featured in this penthouse apartment

We worked closely with Cravotta Interiors (Austin, TX) to create this custom, hand sculpted, ceramic tile mural for the entry of a penthouse in the Four Seasons Residences in Austin, Texas. The Dahlia mural is comprised of 14" x 14" tiles, carved in our unique, gestural style. The vibrant, Persian Red glaze contrasts with the darker, slip underneath to accent the free-flowing design. The designer had the tiles grouted in place as a backdrop for a sitting area.  We just love it when designers feature art in unexpected places! Thanks Cravotta Interiors! You can read more about this project here.   handsculpted, carved, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake      
handsculpted, dimensional tile by Natalie Blake

Dahlia, handsculpted, sgraffito-carved, ceramic tile

 
handsculpted, dimensional, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake

our signature sgraffito-carving creates a textured look and feel

Our New Work Debuts at the Architectural Digest Show 2014

 New Shapes and Designs in Wall Art, and New Vessels!

We are excited to be exhibiting at the  Architectural Digest Home Design Show, March 20-34 in New York City.  As in past years, Natalie is exhibiting in the MADE section of the show (Booth M86), where hundreds of juried international and local artists and galleries showcase their limited edition and one-of-a-kind works.  This is a retail show where you can  purchase directly from the artist at the booth, or you can commission future work.  It's a great opportunity to see artists' new work.  This year we've got lots of new shapes and designs to show off. Natalie Blake exhibits at the Architectural digest show     Our studio's newest work includes what we're calling "architextural" tiles.  The designs on these undulating tiles were inspired by the natural elements of earth, water, air and fire.  The carved patterns accentuate the undulation in the tiles which seem to ripple. Natalie also created smooth, uncarved "ripple" tiles.  These smooth tiles would be a cost-effective way to cover a larger space as they are priced at about half of our carved tiles.  We're working to slump glass over uncarved, undulating tile to create a glass tile that can be incorporated into a ceramic mural. As with all our tile, these tiles are suitable for interior and exterior installations. handsculpted, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake handsculpted, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios     We're expanding our portfolio of shape tiles to include a new line of octagon tiles. Each octagon is made up of 8, individually-made and carved triangle tiles.  We can mount them on a backing to hang as one piece, or they can be individually grouted in as a backsplash detail.  The fun comes from mixing and matching designs and colors! ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake     We've also been extending our line of round tiles to include "Gear" tiles.  While our designs are inspired by images of old gears that our designer friend sent us, they also reference the geometry of nature and remind us of micro-organisms.  We love the industrial look of them.   elliot and gears   And last, but not least, Natalie is debuting a new line of angular, geometric vessels: a new twist on a smooth form. handmade, ceramic vessels by Natalie Blake

 handmade, ceramic vessels by Natalie Blake

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Ceramic Wall Art Tile Installed in New Kentucky Hospital

handmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blakehandmade, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Nature-based designs and soothing colors: these were the criteria that the art committee of the new Owensboro Health Regional Hospital (Owensboro, KY) used to select art for the new hospital.   Natalie Blake Studios was honored to create ceramic wall art tile for the hospital. In developing guidelines for artwork, the committee used research about art in healthcare.  "The purpose of the artwork is to provide positive distractions to help patients leave the stress of the moment and respond better to treatment, ” said Barbara Harriman, President / Creative Director of Distinctive Art Source and an art advisor working with the committee.         "Putting the right art in place supports patient care, and can even lead to shorter hospital stays," she says.  "Studies indicate that patients need less medication and exhibit more positive attitudes when exposed to artwork featur­ing natural surroundings," she notes. “We want to create an experience to keep patients close to nature and support the architectural serenity designed into the space.” Harriman commissioned three ceramic wall tile triptychs from Natalie Blake Studios  for the hospital's 5th floor family area. Each grouping of 3 tiles were to be installed in a wooden, recessed panel.  The ceramic art discs are each 18" in diameter; the square tiles are 8". All are glazed in rich, natural colors to complement the wood niches and the fabric colors in the room. "Natalie Blake’s textural representation of nature’s elements beautifully complemented Owensboro’s warm interiors featuring natural stone and wood. Her ability to customize the size, color and design of each tile made her work a perfect fit on this project. It’s always a pleasure coordinating commissions with Natalie and her team." ~ Barbara Harriman, President / Creative Director of Distinctive Art Source. handmade, ceramic tile by Natalie Blake Studios  

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!