Tile Mural Project - Part 1

MAKING THE PATTERN

An island friend commissioned me to make a tile mural for the 38 square feet (in four panels) of wall behind her woodstove. We talked about what she had in mind, and both of us were swept up in a vision of the amazing possibilities offered by handmade tiles. An image of water, she said. The ocean, the flow and rhythms of it. Here's the drawing I came up with (just on typing paper, taped together) for the project:

I took the photo with the drawing laid out on the grey boards of my front porch. The colored-in parts are simply to show the way that various colors can define the flow across all four panels. All the tiles will, of course, be colored in the final mural. The colors of water, with blues and greys and greens.

I took the photo with the drawing laid out on the grey boards of my front porch. The colored-in parts are simply to show the way that various colors can define the flow across all four panels. All the tiles will, of course, be colored in the final mural. The colors of water, with blues and greys and greens.

I brought the drawing to her, and she liked it. The next phase was to measure the exact dimensions of the four pieces of cement board that currently make up those surfaces, and to create life-size patterns - one for each panel. Three of the panels are five feet high. (The current cement boards will be replaced with new ones to hold these tiles - more about that step later.) Below is one of the full-size panel patterns, drawn on a piece of Tyvek, with each pattern piece numbered. It's five feet high and 40 inches wide.

Laid out on my not-very-clean livingroom floor. I made a few minor changes in the lines, to make them flow better than they had in my original sketch.

Laid out on my not-very-clean livingroom floor. I made a few minor changes in the lines, to make them flow better than they had in my original sketch.

The numbers on this panel start at 90, because I've already numbered two of the other panels on their own pattern sheets. This sheet goes up to 198. I'm guessing that I'll end up with around 260 tiles, all told. Each one different. The next step is to trace each pattern piece onto a piece of paper, and cut it out. That way, I preserve the original Tyvek pattern sheet, so I can lay out the clay tiles on it. I'm using cheap typing paper to make my individual pattern pieces. Below are a few of these pieces, traced but not yet cut out.

I do this part in my livingroom, because it's warm and convenient. I'm trying to do as much work here as I can, before I get to the part where clay dust starts floating around and I have to move my operations to my studio.

I do this part in my livingroom, because it's warm and convenient. I'm trying to do as much work here as I can, before I get to the part where clay dust starts floating around and I have to move my operations to my studio.

I'll add the next steps in another post soon.