Tag Archives: installation

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


  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

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!