Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Tile Challenge

Some time ago, we bought a house in Sandbridge Beach, VA and someone left this mirror behind along with some furniture and odds and ends. I have no idea where it came from. I would guess Italy because when I cleaning up the wood carving, I discovered the gold was laid over a red undercoat. A handsome thing with one thing wrong: There was only cardboard backing the mirror, so when you turned it around it was really ugly.

I drug this thing around with me all over the place in subsequent moves and when I took a tile workshop/course with Marie Glass-Tapp in Seattle, one of the challenges I set for myself was to try and make a tile to put in the back. I wanted it to mirror the shape of the cut-out, so I did this tile first:

It turned out not exactly as I expected. I had little experience working with cobalt and didn't realize how strongly it overpowered just about anything it is applied to. This was supposed to be a light blue tile with contrasts between a really light blue (the white design under the cobalt) and a darker blue over a dark claybody.

I still like the tile and it sits on my table. Appearance wasn't the killer, though, Shrinkage was. I hadn't taken that into account when I made the tile assuming that the shrinkage would just be enough to allow for grout. But NO, the shrinkage was just too much.

Back to the drawing board. Second try = success. This backing has basically the same design, but this time I scraffittoed the wreath-like decoration in the center and the words that circle the outer edges of the tile. The white is a majolica glaze, so I was able to get away with the letters coming out in the color of the claybody. It reads: "The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes, without speaking, confess the secrets of the heart."

I love art and words.

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