How lucky is the mural by Laurel True at Tiki Tom’s in Oakland CA? It appears to have survived the blaze that burnt down the restaurant. Hope they manage to save the mural in the clean up/rebuild.
Category Archives: Laurel True
After the conference it was onwards and upwards to the Bay Area – my former stomping ground and one place I keep going back to. I always feel like I come home when I go there…
Laurel True was kind enough to let me do a stint at Artist in Residence at the Institute of Mosaic Art (IMA). When I inquired about perhaps helping out with something at IMA, I wasn’t expecting an ‘Artist in Residence’ tag at all, but was more than happy with it Laurel had mentioned the kitchen backsplash which piqued my interest, amongst many other possibilities. I was worried that time pressures and other personal pressures may prevent me from finishing it, so I left myself open to anything. I had mentioned it to Susan Crocenzi – looking to collaborate with her cuz I thought it would just be fun! When I arrived and went over, I thought to myself the backsplash would be the perfect thing to do. Yet again proof of working well under pressure With no design ideas in mind and no inkling, at that time, that I would be surrounded by fellow artists a la Linda Martin, Kelley Knickerbocker and Rachel Rodi [who are waaaay awesome!!! ] to help finish the installation I set about doing the kitchen backsplash direct (knowing that I had 4, maybe 5 days to get it all done)! – simply because I had no design in mind and worked it as I went. I knew that if I sat down and drew stuff out, it would not get finished.
Susan came in on the last day (all the way from Nevada City!) and added her tempered glass and polymer clay accents, all of which I think make the installation! Some of the polymer clay pieces she had made many moons ago and they just fit with the theme – colours, shapes… it was just perfect! Like it was meant to be somethin’… We finished just in the knick o’ time.
I have to say designing this was a little scary… 1 because I had no ideas, 2 because it’s in Laurel’s business, 3 because that business is IMA and 4 because how many mosaic artists go through there every year?! Laurel was way cool about it though and just let me go for it. I very much appreciate her support. I figured that she wouldn’t mind a walk on the wild side and wouldn’t necessarily need/want/prefer a traditional backsplash, so I went with something else and I think it fits with the spirit of IMA…
By day 2 I was starting to get just a tad panicked that I wasn’t going to be able to finish what I’d started! I was leaving to go back to Australia and not quite like I could pop in at any time… Mentioned as much on either Flickr or Facebook (don’t remember which) and Lovely Linda came to the rescue!!! She drove up from Santa Cruz to help me on the Saturday. How cool is that?! Kelley was there, having driven down from Seattle the day before, hanging her art for a show she’s got going on (go see it if you are close by – her work is amazing!!!!). We roped her in at some point in the day and when Rachel finished teaching her class… well we just had that glint in our eyes and she couldn’t say no
Last day of installation and the name for the piece hadn’t even cropped up… Susan and I decided to call it Reach.
Have I mentioned how FUN it is working with fellow mosaic artists?!!! Spreadin’ the love is good in numbers!
Photo by Gib Robinson
Photo by Gib Robinson
Photo by Gib Robinson
Here is the second part of the earlier post on Laurel‘s mural in New Orleans… S’beautiful!
Here are some of the finished pics of the mural in New Orleans. It is located in the Bywater neighborhood on Clouet at Dauphine.
The large circular empty spots are for other artists to come and add something to the mural and has lots of donated special items from people in the area, including these blue and white tiles that are in the sidewalks spelling out the street names. One set says OK and another spells out WOW. So I decided to call the piece “Nola WOW Mural”.
Lots of healing hearts and guardian eyes and general circus theme
Check out the second to last photo. A graffiti artist whose tag is a cassette tape already participated and added his/ her tag. The owner of the wall is really a cool guy and he posted a flyer we made up on his property explaining that people were invited to add something. People are already putting their names in the circles to hold the spaces!
Sounds like if it’s not already too late, get down there and grab a space!
Thanks for the update Laurel! We all think it’s fabulicious!!!
Wihoo! Check this out… Felt the need to share this with all of you, some of whom I’m sure have already seen it. Laurel True‘s latest mosaic mural is a community project down in New Orleans. She mentioned she was heading down after the mural intensive I took part in. She has such energy, I love it… Needless to say I felt the need to leave this post in her own words, so here it is…
I just wanted to send a few pics of the mosaic mural we are working on in New Orleans! I got hired to do a renegade mosaic wall mural and involve community members/ neighbors in the process.
We are finishing the background tomorrow and grouting on Saturday. All the places inside the giant circles will be left blank for other artists to come later and paint/ collage/ mosaic/ whatever to make it a kind of neighborhood conversation in visual art.
My friends Tai, Theo and Danit (all visiting) had a hand in the mural. Tai and Theo made graffiti- style inclusions with me and Danit jumped into her first mosaic project (in all the years we have been friends) during her visit and even mosaiced on her birthday. She really knows how to nip now
As you can see, the Jackster is working on being a good job site dog and the pink truck is ok in place of a pickup..
I am headed back to Oakland, leaving Nola on Sunday or Monday.. Boo hoo!
But will be glad to get back into the studio to tackle all the summer projects.
Almost all the materials were locally sourced, donated by neighbors and/or recycled or purchased at Habitat for Humanity Reuse Center… Yay!
How cool is that?! Check out these pics, it’s gorgeous and she’s such a Swirl-Ho
Well as most of you probably are aware I have become quite friendly with Susan Crocenzi having made a website for her and in return I lovingly welcomed Crossroads into my life. When I was in the USandA I went and visited her in her neck of the woods. How could I not?! The drive up was lovely and I was cursing myself for not hiring the GPS for the extra $14.99 per day cos I kept getting lost?! Mapquest had me all over the place, lol! Finally made it though and she was busy teaching Donna, aka CaDonna, who came to know of Susan through another online forum… They’d been making a polymer clay and tempered glass piece which they’d just finished as I turned up
Now I will admit to being a tad worried that we might not get along, that it would all be a stereotypical weird online friendship thing and it SOOOO was not. I felt like we’d known each other for a long time. Phew, cos she opened her home to me and was so very hospitable and I stayed for the whole weekend, even got to meet her family. I’m sure you felt the same, a little… huh, Susan?!
We had planned on trying to go for a hike, there was even mention of going kayaking on the Yuba, which sounded wonderful! There just wasn’t going to be any time though (I was only there for 2.5 days) and I do plan to take her up on the offer another time. Some of the pics I’ve seen of her beautiful surrounds was just mind blowing. Northern CA is just simply beautiful!!! From her studio you could hear the wind in the trees, the river running, birds singing and the air was fresh! It was really just lovely. I could totally see why she lived there. My ideal spot to live is in the mountains overlooking the ocean… Still searching for it. In CA, Santa Cruz came very close for me. The Santa Cruz mountains are just… I don’t have words to describe it frankly…
When I asked Susan if there was anything she wanted from Australia, she said the only thing she wanted was a mosaic I’d made. Well, not having all that much left I did have Flutterby which now resides with her and I’m so glad it does. I in turn got Big Love… Just what I needed! I own 5 Crocenzi originals now One would think I’m a fan of her work or something!
Susan was also gracious enough to let me sit in on her 1st class. I think it’s the beginning of a new career for her… Having been a teacher for the last 15 or so years, she’s a natural at it and her classes are fun. Guaranteed you’ll come away from one, or two (?) classes with a piece you’ll love. I know it has made me look at the potential of my mosaics in a different light, which came at a very necessary time as I was feeling rather blah about everything for a while. The combination of the mural intensive, Susan’s tempered glass class and me having just gone on a *major* de-cluttering of my house has got me all enthused again. Nothing like getting rid of crap. It literally clutters your soul and it is so therapeutic to chuck.
Anyway, it was a really fun get-together. Donna is way cool too and her piece she made was gorgeous. Thanks Susan! Thank whatever and whoever for the internet is all I have to say for giving me such great friends, who I can now count as “real life” friends, not just e-friends…
Susan, Donna & I surrounded by those big gorgeous trees
Aspire, my tempered glass piece I made in Susan’s class
Susan’s trade for Flutterby. I love this piece! It just sparkles and now adorns my love wall…
April was the month of hearts for me. Everywhere I turned there was one… I had to purchase Laurel True‘s graffiti tag when I saw it:
It’s about all I could afford, lol!
One of the main reasons for me heading over to the US was to participate in the mural intensive workshop offered at the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland, CA. It was FUN!!! It’s all I can say about it really. The workshop took place over a week and there were seven of us – 2 of us came from OS (me being from Australia and another from Canada), 2 others from interstate, 1 from Southern CA and then 2 locally. So we were a diverse mix, not only of location but also in mosaic background. Laurel True facilitated the entire project, right down to designing the mural in advance. Our first day there the mural map was up on the wall, colour coded and all! Seeing it up there did not give me an idea of the work involved until we actually started setting tile. I had an idea of how murals were done, theoretically speaking, but given the opportunity to actually DO it and also be given all of Laurel’s tips along the way was a true gift (pardon the pun, Laurel). It was also incredibly enjoyable working with other artists. Talk about no pressure! We all got stuck into it immediately, setting tile by the second day.
The mural was made from high fire ceramic and mirror. I’d worked with high fire before and it is work getting it cut the way you like. Most of the tile was just broken tile, but alot had to be carved too. I think I’m a helluva lot better at cutting high fire now I even had the torn blisters to prove it… I feel all hardcore, lol!
I really enjoyed watching others work too: how they set their tile, cut the tile etc… It’s all very interesting to me since I’ve always worked alone, and am self taught. I’m amazed really that the finished mural looks as seamless as it does considering the scope of people who worked on it and offered assistance here and there. You wouldn’t know really that there were so many people involved. All the sections just fit together. What makes a project like this such a success I think. I guess that’s the upside to using predominantly broken tile too. I would have liked to have seen all of our work before hand. It would have been really interesting to see how, I’m sure, we all differ and yet are able to come together to work on a single project.
It turns out that two of the participants I “knew” – yet more evidence that the international mosaic community is soooo small ( I mean that in the sense that all the mosaic related forums have alot of the same members, it’s great!) . Pam Goode was a flickr friend that I can now call a real friend… she’s not imaginary anymore either! (Got to meet alot of my efriends this time around, that’s another post…) I love Pam’s work, and she’s as gorgeous as what she creates. Also there was Jill Montgomery whose work I’d seen on one of the Yahoo forums. By the second day I’d put two and two together… Her work is also amazing! Definitely check out their websites! Suzanne was a mosaic beginner, though clearly an established artist. Karla was loads of fun and had only ever worked with smalti. Carol, as I understand, was the IMA-Ho in the class. I so would be too if I lived down the road from them… Renata, the other Commonwealth Cohabitant, was also an established mosaic artist. We’d often look at each other wondrously when everyone started talking inches, feet or fahrenheit… lol! I think I have the inches and feet down pat, basically, but farhenheit I just simply can’t get an understanding for. It really means very little to me. Renata had it right: she came for a month and just fit in a bunch of different classes.
The background on the project was fairly straightforward. For this class Laurel donates the murals to local small businesses and non-profits. This time she chose a coffee shop a couple blocks away. I guess it was a cafe that has changed hands a number of times in the time that Laurel has been in this particular neighbourhood. So in the design process she decided immediately that she didn’t want it to be so specific… The business is called Kefa Coffee. I understand that Kefa is a province in southwest Ethiopia. The owners are Ethiopian and specialise in Ethiopian coffee, but their menu is not Ethiopian food (which I will say is delish). We all chowed down the BLTs there, serious yum fest!!!! So design inspiration came about from Ethiopia and coffee basically!!!
Anyway, it was well worth it. I realised just how much making a mural alone is not possible… Well it is as far as setting the tile (though I’d be setting tile for a really loooong freakin’ time!!!), but actually installing it would be physically impossible and a nightmare. I have a couple murals lined up and this was just the jolt I needed to knock me out of lala land and get with the reality of managing a large scale project on my own. I’m certainly going to change my original plan, I think…
Laurel is a great instructor and a wonderful, fun person. Very animated and all the techy talk was so inspiring (talk to your tile and tell it what you want (at the frustration of not getting the tile cut the way we wanted!!!), BOMP!!!! etc…) LMAO! She’s a classic She also talked a little about her work and plans over in Ghana. Sooo interesting and it’s really refreshing to hear people give back I think. What I’d give to participate in one of her projects over there…
We also got to meet some well known mosaic artists, so the whole week was very inspired: Lillian Sizemore, Karen Thompson and Sherri Warner Hunter was there teaching her concrete form class. I almost did that class instead of this one. Looked veeery fun but I have to say I’m really glad that I did this one. Certainly where I’m going to venture into, and am able to as far as my current studio space. Watching the snowy mess coming out of Sherri’s class made me realise that there was no way I could do this just yet given the available space I own…
*sigh*… wouldn’t it be lovely to travel the world doing workshop after workshop?! I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week. I’m not a day napper, but when we finished on the Sunday I went home and promptly fell asleep. Overall just a great experience. The opportunity to participate in a large scale, group project and mosaic all day, everyday for an entire week is a memory I’ll hold close to my heart!
The other section I made with Laurel. I cut out most of the circles… ouch! I loved watching Laurel work. She’s fast and her cutting and placement is just so perfect… gotta do the precision tile setting class!!!
To view more photos of the project, check out my Flickr album.
Here is the actual lowdown on the mural:
Kefa- Coffee from Ethiopia to Jingletown 2008
Ceramic tile, glass and mirror
Kefa Coffeehouse, Oakland, CA
4’ x 10’
Mosaic mural by True Mosaics Studio and students of Mosaic Mural Making Intensive at Institute of Mosaic Art. Design and facilitation by Laurel True. Production and installation by Kim Grant, Pam Goode, Jill Montgomery , Renata Kolarova, Karla Silva-Ruiz, Susannne Takehara, Laurel True and Carol Waldren
Additional production assistance by Deborah Block, Debbie Callen, Kara Graves, Delaine Hackney, Celeste Howell, Rachel Rodi and Lillian Sizemore. Handmade ceramic tile accents by Saundra Warren.
This episode showed a little while ago and it is supposed to be airing again August 1st on the DIY network at 12pm EST, in the US.
Laurel True shows step-by-step how to take a rubber ball and turn it into a fantastic mosaic sphere! This is a picture of the finished product from the DIY Network’s website. You can print all the steps to do it yourself!
Even though I started out with mosaic just breaking up tile, it never really got me all that excited until I saw Laurel’s work. She uses colour! It’s not often that you see really colourful tiles because most people use… well frankly ugly tiles for home decor!!! Alot of the colourful tiles here in Canberra are usually the soft, low-fire tile, which you can’t use here as we get frosts. Laurel True uses tile from McIntyre Tile Company. They are a high-fire tile and come in beautiful colours…
Anyway, I love this project. There are too many DIY projects that are just so dull and plain ugly and it makes me wonder why bother!? But not this one. This takes an el cheapo kids’ rubber ball and turns it into a piece of art.