Tag Archives: “tile art”

“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

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Little Tree of Four ceramic porcelain hand sgraffito carved backsplash.

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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.

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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.    

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.

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

 
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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

   

Details, details, details!

  ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake We're not bothered by the details here at Natalie Blake Studios. In fact, we LOVE the details!  It's the detail of our work that draws the viewer in. From a distance our murals have a bold, sculptural presence. But lean in and notice that each line on every tile has been carved by hand. Like brushstrokes on a painting, our carving lines add movement and texture to the work. You can actually feel the texture.  This tactile quality of our work adds yet another dimension to our art.                 carving a ceramic wall art tile We achieve this textured carving by using the ancient technique of "sgraffito," which means "to scratch" in Italian.  First we brush a layer of slip (a creamy mixture of clay, water and pigment) onto the clay. After the slip dries, we carve through this layer to reveal the lighter-colored clay underneath.       Ribbon Tools       We use a ribbon tool to do our carving.  These miniature sculpting tools are made of fine ribbon steel, heat-treated for maximum strength.   For more detail on our tile-making process, check out our Youtube video, "Carving Curved Clay"  
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Closeup of the Tree of Life mural, showing undulation of tiles and sgraffito-carving

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Sgraffito-carved tiles, air drying before going into the bisque firing

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Sgraffito-carved tile

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Natalie carving a ceramic wall art tile

 
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Outdoor installation of ceramic wall art tile by Natalie Blake Studios

 

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  

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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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.

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!

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