Children’s Center Mural

January 26, 2015

The mural is coming along.

We don’t have a space in the studio to see more than a couple tiles together at a time. It’s like piecing together a quilt. The completed tiles are wrapped and stored in Jane’s basement. We pulled all the completed tiles out today, unwrapped them, and put them together to see how they fit. It was grand to see how big it is already. There are still many holes and the we haven’t yet begun on the bottom row of tiles, but we are well on our way to having an entire wall of glass. DSCN3906DSCN3918DSCN3904DSCN3905DSCN3924

Children’s Center Mural

January 19, 2015

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Children’s Center Mural

January 18, 2015

Jane’s studio is amazing! It is a small space packed supplies. She has jars and jars of frit glass, and racks of sheet glass. It is clear that she loves this art form. My mother has been helping us by cleaning the glass and assisting in the studio. With the three of us in the studio and Jane’s big black dog Harvey, it is cozy. At first I was tentative about being in the studio with so many fragile glass supplies. I imagined tripping and smashing thousands of dollars worth of glass along with hours of our labor. Now it is quite comfortable. With the kiln going it is always warm. DSCN3893

Jane and I are just getting started on the first round of firing for the tiles. It is exciting! My background is in painting and drawing, two mediums that allow for some erasing or painting over if there is a mistake. Glass doesn’t allow for such easy corrections. Each firing takes hours. You can add to a tile after has been fired, but you really can’t un-fussing a tile. The colors of the glass often change in the kiln. So the colors I see in the jars of frit may not not be the color that appear when the tiles come out of the kiln. Every time we take a tile out of kiln I am surprised by the way the heat has transformed the images and colors.DSCN3880

Children’s Center Mural

January 15, 2015

DSCN3897 This mural is quite large. It is huge, actually. Each panel is @ 14’x3’. The panels will be offset so the final dimensions will be in the @ 20’x6’. The piece will be in a long hallway leading to therapy rooms. Walking down that hallway will be an immersive experience. The mural will be taller than most of the centers clients. The reflective quality of the glass will reflect the clients image and react to their movements. I hope that it will be like diving in and swimming along with the sea creatures. In the early stages of this project I started sketching some of the major elements. I cut the forms out of thick craft paper and created stencils out of them. Jane has been using those stencils to create shape out of colored glass powder called frit. Jane also worked with Bullseye Glass to have them create a custom color of blue for our base color. We then made a couple dozen tiny test tiles so we could see how the color reacts with the frit colors we are using.

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Children’s Center Mural

January 12, 2015

I decided to resurrect my neglected blog as a way of documenting the project I am working on for the Children’s Center. The Children’s Center is an excellent organization here in Vancouver that helps children and families with mental health services. I started talking with them last fall about creating a donor recognition wall for the new building they are constructing. They are currently looking for more donors and I encourage everyone to consider supporting this project.


The Children’s Center was looking for a donor wall with an underwater theme in blues and greens. The colors worked well with those already chosen for the building and the theme has the potential to be both soothing and whimsical. When considering how this large glass mural was going to work and how the donors names would appear in it, I decided I wanted the names to become part of the overall image. I imagined the names becoming the waves and ripples in the water. We decided early on to create the design with glass tiles. I had seen a number of lovely piece that glass artist Jane Cote had done where she embossed letters into the surface of the glass and I thought that would be a lovely way to have the donors names appear in the design. I reached out to Jane and asked if she would be willing to join the project. Happily she said “Yes!”

When I started researching images I was really taken by some photos I found that showed the surface of a body of water, the landscape behind it, and the scene below. Those images inspired me to split the mural in to two sections: above the water and below. There are some poetic parallels between those  images and the process of working towards mental health. The dual view shows how when when you look at just the surface you don’t know what is below. The sunshine and light reflect the idea of counseling being rays of hope. Since the lower panel is more at eye level for young children I wanted that area to be especially soothing and joyful. I left areas of open space to give the impression of still and deep water. The lower panels hold the most color and movement. There are forms of starfish, crabs, schools of fish, kelp,  turtles, coral and an octopus. Through out the mural the donors names will be embossed in wavy lines, giving it a texture that the Children’s Center clients can run their hands along.Erin-1 Erin-2

This is what I initially proposed to the Children’s Center:

Top panel: Making waves and being light

That title refers to the major elements of the piece and it functions as a call to action to your donors. The title ask the donors to make waves, create the changes necessary to improve our community, and to be the light in a child’s life. I also see this title as referring to the process of working towards mental health — making changes and seeking a lighter future.

Bottom panel: Finding joy in soft pure blue

Where the top piece sends a message about the action needed to bring about change the bottom panel is a place of refuge for the Children’s Center clients. It is a quiet, calm, whimsical place where you can relax and heal.