(n.) Cabindo: A condo on a lake, among tall old trees. Half cabin, half condo. My first home. This is a running journal of the renovations, projects, and general shoestring budget craziness.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Art School Leftovers

Leftovers are awesome. Be it food, paint, fabric, rescued animals, money (ha!), or art.
I have a lot of 'leftover' art, which I absolutely treasure.

Being in the art department in college gave me the opportunity to interact with all sorts of creative and crazy talented people who had exceedingly high standards of themselves, and excelled in various fields. The painters would churn out pieces they found mediocre, but I would pee my pants if I could create, and was therefore more than happy to take off their hands. 
I had similarly high expectations for my sculpture and ceramics: it was good, but I wanted it to be great. My castoff's were still high quality, and quickly grabbed by friends who could paint the aforementioned masterpieces, but created 3-d pieces that could be described as 'paperweights' for grandma. 
For the record: I am pretty limited in my artistic talents. My painting skills do not extend past painting a wall. With the exception of pastels done one specific way, any 2-d artwork of mine is grandma territory. Unless I can make it with my hands: best of luck telling if that piece hanging on the wall depicts a landscape or a vegetable (an no, it's not like it's even abstract).

Most of this leftover art has been sitting in my parents basement, or loaned out to friends and family for the better part of 10 years. I'd recently been thinking about some handmade ceramic tiles a professor who heavily impacted/inspired me in college had given me, but I did't see anywhere when moving. Soon afterwards, I discovered them at a friend's house lining her garden. She was graciously happy to let me have them back, so I quickly snatched them up before she changed her mind. (thanks Trish!)

These tiles were made from terracotta clay in a custom built tile mold. This particular professor had gone out of her way by letting me pester her into showing how she both built tile molds, and created the tiles. It wasn't part of any normal class curriculum, just an aside one evening when we were both in the studio. She was producing a huge number of tiles for some project I can't pretend to remember. Some didn't meet her standards and she allowed me to have them. 
A hallmark of her work, to me, is the incredible texture she is able to achieve.

ceramic nerd ho

I love the piece's roughness due to it's material composition and handling, and the surface finish from the glaze and kiln effects.

I'd never done anything of substance with these tiles, but have always wanted to display them. There are no attachment points on the back of the tiles, so I decided to mount them on a board, with mortar, just like any other tile.
They are heavy, and will be hung outside, so I needed a sturdy and weather resistant board on which to mount them. 
I laid them out in the pattern I wanted and figured I could piece together a backing from some of the scrap wood piling up on my deck.

Wrong answer.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time sizing, cutting, bracketing, yadda yadda yadda, and came out with an inadequate, wonky backing. 

those aint good apples

Off to Home Depot and $6.50 later, had all the wood I needed.

2x4 strand plywood

I laid the tiles out again and traced around the edge. I lopped off the big pieces with my circular saw, and dremeled off the rest. All the cuts were straight, so this was nice n easy.

fear not, the pallet table was safe

To seal the wood, I painted the whole thing with grey primer.

project helped immensely by a delicious shandy

I then slopped on a layer of leftover mortar and laid down the tiles. I slowed my roll and let the mortar cure for 72 hours before grouting. I made sure to cover the edges of the board with the grout as well so it would not have a weird grey edge.
The thing is indeed HEAVY and required heavy duty hanging hardware on the back.

thats a good looking back side

It is now living proudly on my porch, lookin fine in the summertime.


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