Tag Archives: handmade

“Little Tree of Four” Kitchen Backsplash

  Another happy customer from Natalie Blake Studios!  

"Our kitchen project is finished,

and the “Little Tree of Four” is installed.

It looks absolutely beautiful and is the highlight of our kitchen! "

G. Szegedy

REV Gizella Szegegy Backsplash_0390

Little Tree of Four ceramic porcelain hand sgraffito carved backsplash.

REV Gizella Szegegy Backsplash_0388

No maintenance tiles, that are easy to clean using any household cleaner and a scrubby, or wipe with Windex.

Color fast tiles, that are heat and water resistent.

Perfect to use in a kitchen near a stove or sink.

REV Gizella Szegegy Backsplash_0389

Custom designs and sizes for any backsplash commission available within 6-12 weeks from receipt of deposit. Natalie Blake Studios designers will work with you to find the perfect image and colors to fit in your custom home. Please contact the studio by phone at 802.254.9761 or email at info@natalieblake.com.    

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.

New Residential Backsplash Installation

We just received photographs from a home owner who commissioned Natalie Blake Studios to make four tiles to have installed in her kitchen make-over. The client worked with our designer to come up with a pattern in glaze colors that she wanted to use in her kitchen based on her color board.   Natalie Blake Studios Utberg backsplash 2015 A WEB Natalie Blake Studios tiles are set off from the field tiles with a bull nose border. What is very pleasing with this installation is the grout is covered by matching cut field tile, so that the image blends in very nicely with the surrounding tile. Let us work with you or your client to augment their interiors.

A Playful Mural Designed for a Pediatric Unit

 Ceramic Wall Art Mural Inspired by our Local Roots

This spring we were asked to create an original wall tile mural to be installed in the Yale-New Haven Hospital's Pediatric Specialty Center.  The art committee wanted a piece that would include themes of travel and literature that would resonate with children.  We love this type of project where we can really be creative.  Some great design ideas came out of our collaboration with the art committee.  For example using books as wings.  You can see the results below:flying books and books as handgliders!   handsculpted, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall art by Natalie Blake   Once the committee told us to locate the scene in New England we really got creative!  We incorporated images that we see out our window everyday: rolling hills, a river and a train (the Amtrak line runs right along the Connecticut River, through Brattleboro).  We love biking and kayaking so we included these modes of travel too. Our signature, sgraffito carving style brings a lot of movement to the  flowing river and breezy skies; the whole piece feels animated. Working on this wall art mural felt especially personal for Cynthia (Designer at Natalie Blake Studios). "As I biked to work I kept noticing details in the environment, such as the pair of geese and the kingfisher which ended up in the mural. Our new studio site abuts the West River and during our lunch break we sometimes visit the river.  I paid special attention to the wild plants and the landscape and how the rocks and the river interact. This became research for the details of the mural. I also kept thinking of my 7 year old son as  I carved some of the details (he's actually the biker under the bridge!). I loved imagining him discovering the details in the piece. Whenever he would visit me at work he would look to see what I had carved." The idea of the books emerging from the train smoke and then morphing into birds came out of Natalie's surrealist sensibilities. One reason why this mural's design works so well is that it marries Cynthia's realism and Natalie's surrealism. Here is the final sketch that was the result of Natalie and Cynthia working with the art committee to gather ideas:   Looking for learning   In a moment of inspiration we suggested that the hospital post a key to finding fun animals and objects in the tile mural.  Tucked into various corners of the design are: a beaver, squirrels, a salamander (can you find them below?) and many more.   handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall art tile     handmade, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake   handsculpted, sgraffito-carved, ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake   We had so much fun making this mural. The first step was to envision the layout of the entire mural and to make the forms that would give the wall art tiles their signature undulation.  
handmade tile by Natalie Blake

Handmade forms create the undulation in the tiles

Next we laid each handmade tile over the forms:
handmade wall art tile by Natalie Blake

Clay tiles draped over forms

After painting slip on the tiles, we carved the design, using the undulations to "shape" the design:  
handmade, carved tiles by Natalie Blake

Carving

  Here is the piece, carved and bisque-fired:
handmade wall art tile by Natalie Blake

Ready to be glazed!

Thanks to Nancy Samotis, who was the art consultant for this project and a real pleasure to work with! "Patients, family and staff all love the way Natalie Blake Studio's 8' x 6' mural welcomes them to the Yale-New Haven Health Pediatric Specialty Center.  It stands on its own as a statement piece, and also offers interactive elements by having "hidden images" within the larger design.  Thanks to Natalie and her team for going above and beyond with this art commission." --Nancy Samotis

New Vessels

 Handmade, ceramic vessels taking on a new form

Natalie took us all by surprise a few weeks ago when we came into the studio to find these lovely new pots that she had thrown in black and porcelain clay.  She calls them Chesspots.  Ranging in size from 16" - 24" high, these pots work individually and in groups, where their size and shape complement each other.  
handmade, black clay vessels by Natalie Blake

Chocolate Chesspots, 16" - 24" h, handmade black clay vessel with handmade, black clay lid.

Here's what Natalie says about these pots: "In my most recent body of work, I turn my traditional approach to the thrown and lidded vessel upside down. My approach to form has always been one of full, ripe, round. The carved and brightly colored, curvy shapes  conjured the feeling of ripe fruits and affluent jewels. This latest approach seeks to maintain elegance and ripeness, while making bold, sharp and opinionated statements with cut edges and accordion angles. Instead of colored glaze, the raw high-fired terra-sigilatta surface of the porcelain and black clays uses shadow and light to personify. The vessels have merged with the characters of chess pieces to create whimsical identity and playful gesture. My signature lids are the final and pivotal punctuation mark that creates the complete personality of each vessel."  
handmade, porcelain and black clay vessels by Natalie Blake

Accordian with Rook, 15" h, 24" h

 
handmade, porcelain vessel by Natalie Blake

Knight, 14" x 9", porcelain

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

flower

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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Grandmother Tree: From Inspiration to Installation

Our blog has closely followed the creation of several works of ceramic artwork that we installed at Chabot College after receiving their public art grant. 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. Custom Designed Tile Mural, Public Art 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 designer, found a fitting design in an interesting way:

"When we were designing our proposal for this public art award we took one of our favorite trees and digitally stretched it onto this column. Shifting scale really changed the feeling of it; we loved the way it transformed the space and the column. The campus voted on their favorite ideas and then the arts committee gave us the go ahead. We were so psyched to take that digital concept and make it into a reality of ceramic artwork.

It was more than three times bigger than the trees we had been making so to accommodate it in our work space we sgraffito carved it in sections starting with the roots. Carving it was like a meditation on each aspect of the trees structure and the vital flow of energy which it embodies." Cynthia Parker-Houghton

The finished sculptural art mural had 84 tiles, and at a total height of 252 inches, presented a totally new challenge of installation. So, we rented a mechanical lift, and the rest is history – or at least, a timelapse.

Timelapse: Ceramic Artwork Installation

See more images of our Grandmother Tree installation at Chabot College and all of our work on Pinterest.

Custom designed ceramic artwork, Public Art Installation

Fulcrum Arts Center is Front Page News

Yes, that's us on newsstands in Brattleboro. Fulcrum Arts Center now has a physical home – and while we're not quite moved in yet – we're shouting it in the streets! Soon, it will be a new arts destination, with artist studios and areas for art classes in Brattleboro, Vermont (read all about it in The Commons).

Fulcrum Arts Center News

It's been seven years in the making. With Randi Solin of Solinglass, a great friend, neighbor and now, business partner, we've taken on a huge and remarkable project: creating an arts destination called Fulcrum Arts Center. It will be a space for learning, creating, experimenting; somewhere for us to spread out as artists and invite everyone to join us. Most importantly, it will be a gateway on Vermont's Route 30 into the vibrant, artful culture in our hometown of Brattleboro.

We are excited to get started on the honest-to-goodness physical part of the project, thanks to the recent purchase of a building on the banks of the West River. This space will be our studio homes-away-from-homes, galleries, and teaching areas for art classes. It will have retail space for visitors to buy our handmade tile and sgrafitto art and Randi's beautiful glass art – right here in Vermont, from us, Vermont artists.

This is the building (just brimming with potential, right?):

Fulcrum Arts Center in Progress

We're starting with an almost blank canvas (which of course, we artists love), and will incorporate our art into every possible nook and cranny: the bathrooms will feature Randi's glass, Natalie's tile art, Nick's poured concrete countertops. Even the outside of the building is brimming with possibilities for installations and collaborations with other artists. Our beloved studio dogs will have their own room to romp out back. We plan to use many green and environmentally conscious building practices – we'll install solar panels and recycle Randi's hot air (from the glass furnaces) to heat the building.

Handmade Ceramic Tile Mural and a Studio Dog

The location on Route 30 – outside of downtown Brattleboro – puts Fulcrum Arts Center smack dab on the main road into southern Vermont. We hope you'll stop and say hi and see our handmade ceramic artwork in person once we've moved in.

4 Ideas for Choosing Art for Outdoors

Summer is at its finest when the shady patio beckons, the pool looks heavenly and dinner is served right off the grill. Both the artists and the tiles of Natalie Blake Studios love being outside, and with outdoor living on the mind lately, we'll take this chance to talk about choosing tile wall art for outdoors.
Ceramic Wall Art Tile, Outdoor Art

12" tiles depicting an abstracted mural of Mount Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii are grouted onto our cement backer-board backing system and anchored to a curved lava rock garden wall.

Handmade tile is a great choice for outdoor decorative art. Inspired by colors and designs from the surroundings, tile art has an earthy quality that fits naturally outside. When choosing art for the outdoors, think about location, durability, installation, and most of all, color.  To help get the creative juices flowing, here’s our guide to using tile outside and some ideas for outdoor ceramic wall art. Where to Put Ceramic Art Outside Ceramic art can liven up a pool area, accent an outdoor kitchen or add color to a stone wall — a beautiful way to bring art to an outside space.  These discs and butterfly shaped tiles would be stunning ceramic art for an outdoor fireplace or alcove, and a tile art mural could define an outdoor shower space. The options are limitless. Handmade Sgraffito Carved Discs, Ceramic Wall ArtButterfly Art, Handmade Ceramic Wall Art Durability Ceramic tile, including wall art tile like ours, is very durable and will stand up to rain, sun and cold weather once it is sealed. Whether grouted directly on a wall, or hung with our outdoor cement board backing system, our ceramic tile is created to adorn any surface in any weather condition. Installing Outdoor Tile Wall art tiles can be grouted in for a complete seal or they can be wall-mounted much like wall plaque. Once you've chosen where to place tiles, you can determine which method of installation is right for the space. Typically, we recommend using the grout method for high traffic areas where people could bump the tiles. Our patent-pending outdoor backer system is for places farther away from reach. We have some special tips for installing outdoor tile with grout, especially for tiles with undulating shapes like ours. Our installation methods have been field tested!

Outdoor Tile Wall Art, Installation

Colors Outdoor art can bring the color palette of the house into the outdoor living space, or can draw inspiration from the natural landscape around it. A few tiles of complementary colors can break up a large, one-colored wall. Or they can really make a statement, as do the vibrant colors and shapes of this large tile mural installed at a college.

Handmade Ceramic Outdoor Art Tile by Natalie Blake Studios

For more ideas on using handmade ceramic tiles as outdoor art, try browsing our handmade art tile for sale and in stock.

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