Tag Archives: ceramic

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.

Pattern

Patterns are everywhere in nature. While we don't set out to deliberately create patterns in our ceramic tile art, sometimes they emerge on their own, as this pattern did in our latest Tree of Life mural. According to Cynthia Parker-Houghton, Designer at Natalie Blake Studios, the pattern in the tree trunk revealed itself during sgraffito carving. Our latest work, this Tree of Life mural will be installed in a custom-built home in Wilmington, VT. The texture and dimensions of this tile art, also custom made, will be a source of beauty – and a chance to get lost in the patterns of nature.
Tree of Life ceramic tile art, unglazed – Natalie Blake Studios

Patterns in this Tree of Life took shape on their own.

 

Detail of sgraffito carved, ceramic tile art by Natalie Blake Studios

 
Girbaldi, handmade carved ceramic vessel

Everything about Girbaldi, one of our ceramic vessels, is handmade in Vermont.

Our ceramic artwork is nearly always inspired by nature, and especially its patterns. Whether in the petals of a flower, on the trunk of a tree, or ripples moving on water, the patterns are what we're really after when we begin sgraffito carving. Below are some intricate and honestly astounding patterns that Mother Earth loves to make.
Salakfruits

Snake Fruit from the Salak species of palm tree native to Indonesia, Malyasia and Brunei

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Ungerleider

It's not surprising that art is inspired by nature, given the diversity of pattern and color that nature produces.  Here are a few tile patterns we love. We've pinned more on our Pinterest page. Share yours with us!

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Using Handmade Ceramic Tile with Field Tile

We see a "canvas" for Natalie Blake Studios tiles wherever a tiled surface, as in a kitchen, a bathroom, or a pool area, needs a pop of color or a handmade touch. Adding a mosaic tile mural to a tiled backsplash or wall is an artful way to get both the eye-catching appeal of  handmade ceramic tile art and the functionality of traditional tile. When using handmade ceramic tile with field tile, choose tiles and colors that complement each other yet are different enough to make a statement. Glossy, solid- colored field tiles spotlight the richly detailed and colorful forms of Natalie Blake Studios' mosaic tiles, which in turn become an elegant centerpiece of the room.

Nautilus Shower Mural, Handmade Ceramic Tile Art

Mosaic Tile as Shower Art Our handmade ceramic bath tiles are versatile and can be used in wet and outdoor environments, like showers and saunas, and are actually well suited for it (they’re ceramic tile, after all). This piece, Nautilus, is installed in a townhouse apartment bathroom in Washington, DC, where it adds depth and color to the clean, modern design of the bathroom. For showers, kitchens, and anywhere that splashes are likely, it is essential to properly seal and install the tiles to protect them from dirt and damage. Handmade Ceramic Tile in Kitchen Backsplashes Using our art tile as the highlight in a kitchen backsplash is one of our favorite ways to see our tiles installed.  In the installation below, the playful shapes and colors of the Flowerscape, set off by the surrounding smooth field tile, break up the white of the kitchen.

Flowerscape, Handmade Ceramic Tile Backsplash

Our square tiles can also be incorporated into a tiled kitchen backsplash. Large murals or shorter horizontal groups add a vibrant splash of color to fit almost any size wall space (and many are in stock and ready to buy).
Adavasi, Handmade Kitchen Tile Backsplash

Adavasi Backsplash, 24" x 24"

Tree Branch, Backsplash, Handmade Ceramic Tiles

Tree Branch, 12" x 60"

Handmade Tile in an Outdoor Landscape  Here's an example of handmade ceramic tile as decorative accents in a poolside, stone wall.  The colorful tiles break up the monotone color of the stone wall and play off the beautiful, blue pool.

Handmade Tiles, Outdoor Pool Tiles

The possibilities are limitless. For more ideas on using handmade ceramic tiles in the kitchen, bathroom and even outdoors, get inspired by Natalie Blake Studios on Pinterest and Houzz.  Keep an eye out for our new line of backsplash tiles, designed to fit as a mosaic or accent piece within a field tile backsplash (coming in the fall). Here's a sneak peek of our backsplash design tests:
Natalie Blake Studios Backsplash Tiles, coming soon

Design tests for new backsplash tiles

Q&A: Colors in Ceramic Sgraffito Art

Curious tile-lovers have a lot of questions about how we make our ceramic sgraffito art. So, we've collected some recent questions about color and glazes to answer here in our blog. This Q&A session focuses on color. Color – bright, vibrant, inviting color – is as much a part of Natalie Blake Studios’ distinctive ceramic art as sgraffito carving. While this isn't quite an article on how to glaze ceramics, we hope it will ease (or rather, pique) your curiosity about our most colorful ceramic sgraffito work. Here goes!
Kitchen Tile Backsplash, Handmade by Natalie Blake Studios

Our Tree of Life custom kitchen backsplash.

Q: How do you achieve the contrasting color where you have carved? I am sure you don't have that many different colors of clay. George H., via email A: Great question, George, especially because it lets us start at the very beginning. To achieve that high contrast, we apply a coating of slip to unfired porcelain clay before beginning sgraffito carving. Our handmade tile designs are created by carving through the top slip covered layer. After the ceramic is bisque-fired, we apply colored glazes and fire again. The colors only show in the carved areas, and the dark slip that remains blends with the layer of glaze and shows through as black or some range of grey depending on what glaze it is blending with and how thickly the glaze is applied. Handmade Ceramic Bowl Q: How did you get that Melon color, it’s spectacular! Martha A., via Facebook A: We have done a lot of testing to find glazes that are compatible with our claybody and which the slip blends well with. All this testing has resulted in a huge stock of more than 30 different colored glazes that we choose from to color our sgraffito ceramics. This bowl looks melon-y thanks to an exterior glazed in jade and a watermelon interior glaze. Color, Glazing Handmade Ceramic Art Q: How do you manage to get the shades of a single colour so evenly spread over a tile? Lata D., via Facebook A: To apply our colored glazes, we use an industrial paint sprayer like the ones used to paint cars. It is essentially an airbrush, spraying a “mist” of glaze that our staff can control to change the intensity of the color. We spray one glaze at a time across the tiles, applying each glaze where we want that color on the mural, similar to painting. Spreading the color evenly and achieving smooth blending is an art that we are continually perfecting! Got more questions about colors and glazes? Ask away in the comments or on Facebook, and tell us what you'd like to see on the next Q&A blog about our handmade ceramic art.

Natalie Blake Studios Ceramic Wall Art Wins Award

Our ceramic wall art is now officially award-winning! The news has us very excited, so pardon the exclamation points: we won a gallery award at Art Comes Alive! The annual fine art contest and exhibit took place this past weekend in Cincinnati, OH. We are honored that our tile art was voted into the exhibit, and even more so to receive a contract award from Gallery One, Naples, FL. This is the piece that got us there: "Botanical", a 42" x 56" ceramic wall art mural, glazed in honey, turquoise, cashew, moss and jade. handmade, ceramic wall art tile According to the Art Comes Alive sponsors, Art Design Consultants, Inc., the awards recognize the “brightest and best artists in a variety of categories.” Our piece is one of 150 chosen for the exhibit, out of a staggering 1,500 entries. Getting our tile art mural into the exhibit itself is no small feat, and requires an intense jurying process. Roy Saper, owner of Saper Galleries and Custom Framing, was one of the jurors responsible for choosing pieces for the exhibit. “The online jurying process took me hours. And hours. And hours,” he said. And no wonder, with so many pieces of art in the mix. After each juror reviews each piece, the ones with the most votes are included in the exhibit. From that list, galleries and award donors choose the recipients of their awards. That's where Gallery One comes in – they awarded us a gallery award, and will now carry our work at their gallery in Naples, FL. We will be honored to be represented by this great gallery, which also represents our good friend, fabulous Vermont artist and Fulcrum Arts Center business partner, Randi Solin of Solinglass. Funnily enough, we will share Gallery One with Dr. Seuss as well.  

Anatomy of a Natalie Blake Tile

When you see one of our finished Natalie Blake Studios tiles, the bold lines, undulating shape and vibrant color work together to make each design unique. But when we create them, these elements come to life one at a time, each through its own process. There are three distinct parts to our hand-sculpted tiles: shape, lines and color. Thinking about them on their own shines a light on our process of making ceramic tiles.

Giving Ceramic Tiles Shape - Natalie Blake Studios

Shape Shape and form come before anything else. To give the tiles structure and dimension, each tile is rolled out and gently draped over forms of all different shapes and sizes (on the right, above). The molds are made of hard-fired ceramic so they can be used over and over in an ever-growing library of everything from plump, oblong molds to skinny, curvy molds. The formed clay sets up overnight before it is firm enough to take off of the molds and handle (painting slip and carving comes next). We lay each tile next to the other to form the larger mural design – our work tables are huge!

Carving, s-graffito tiles - Natalie Blake Studios

Bold Lines After the clay has taken on its shape and has hardened to a leather-like consistency, we apply slip and begin sgraffito carving. Natalie and Cynthia's styles are so fluid that carving seems effortless, like a conductor getting caught up in the momentum of the music. They sketch the outlines of the designs right on the clay, then do the work of carving out the many, many lines in between, one at a time. Their lines add texture, define shape and detail, and become the canvas for color. Color from glazes, added later, appears where the top layer of clay and slip have been removed.

Colors for Cermaic Tiles - Natalie Blake Studios

Vibrant Colors After carving, our tiles are bisque-fired, which hardens them and turns the slip coat a dark color. Then the colorful fun begins: adding one (or several) of 32 glazes to get the bright, beautiful colors that characterize Natalie Blake Studios tiles. Colors appear only where we carve lines, where the dark slip and bright colors lends delicious contrast. We spray the glazes on, using an industrial car-paint sprayer, so a single tile can have many colors shaded and blended together. Pieces like our butterflies and custom tile backsplashes become even more beautiful with this play of color. With so much going on in each and every tile, Natalie Blake Studios tiles are a beautiful and easy way to add dimension with wall art or create texture in a backsplash or tiled wall. They're stunning in any setting – at least, we think so.