Clayworks 2011

After a couple of rocky years, we feel like we we’re back in business in here at Clayworks. Our projects in 2011 represent the range of sustaining work we need, from custom tile to lighting, murals, signage and restoration. Here is a sampling:

Houston Arboretum Trailmarkers

The Trailmarkers are mounted atop sculpted concrete tree trunks.

Wayfinding tiles for the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a project that came back to us after years of delay due to the destruction Caused by Hurricane Ike.

Inscribed donor tiles and murals.

Pavers inscribed with the names of donors and stamped with Boy Scout insignia surround the twelve Scout Law murals.

Inscribed donor tiles for the new Scout Training & Education Center in North Austin. Along with hundreds of donor name tiles stamped with scout insignia, we made a dozen Scout Law murals.

Restaurant SconcesA commission to choose 45 sconces from stock and air freight them to Holland for Four Roses Mexican Restaurant near Amsterdam.   The owners had visited our shop on a scouting expedition for Southwestern fixtures and Mexican food recipies

Restaurant sconces

Chisholm Trail Museum mural





A 30-in. square floor mural for a museum courtyard showing the path of the Chisholm Trail from Cuero northward.  The colored clays which make up the mural were cut to shape while soft.


frog fountain spout              Replication of clay frog spouts for a fountain on the grounds of the Perry Mansion, an Austin estate currently undergoing an extensive renovation.

And there’s been the steady flow of bread & butter work–hand inscribed donor pavers for schools, churches & libraries; individual address plaques made to order and sconces of all descriptions for homes and public spaces.

tile address plaqueclay sconces in kiln

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Chisholm Trail Mural

Here’s the finished Chisholm Trail Museum mural, all set and grouted, ready to be picked up.  Robert Anderson Landscape Architects contacted us a few months ago for a 30-in. square floor installation for the museum courtyard showing the path of the trail from Cuero northward.  Museum Director Robert Oliver provided a map of the trail.  We started with a pencil layout, and once it seemed right converted it into a computer image.

We then enlarged the pattern and made slabs of the five colored clays used in the design:  terra cotta, buff, cobalt, copper and white. We cut the shapes from their respective colors and fit them together puzzle style.  While the clay was still soft, we inscribed the trail and the rivers and place names.  After firing, the mural was set onto concrete board and grouted, so that it can be set as a single piece at the museum

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Wedging green clay

The pigmented clay we sometimes use is generally mixed by hand.  John is wedging green clay–pigmented with chrome–for a floor medallion.

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Trail Mural

This is the design for a 30-in square courtyard floor mural we’re making for the Chisholm Trail Museum in Cuero.  The pigmented clays we are using are colored throughout rather than glazed on the surface, so that foot traffic can never wear the color away.  There are five different clays:  terra cotta, buff, white, green and blue.  The next step in the process is to enlarge the pattern, then roll out slabs and cut out the shapes.Chisholm Trail map

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Embossed Diamond Light Fixtures for Mississippi

We’re making pendulum light fixtures for a Mexican restaurant in Gulfport, Mississippi.  The style is the embossed diamond so often favored by Mexican restaurants (Nuevo León, Serrano’s, and the old Rosie’s Tamale House in Austin for example).  Gulfport’s La Sombra has ordered the fixtures in terra cotta clay with most finished in a vibrant cobalt glaze.  First we roll out slabs, emboss them, and shape them around cylinders.  We should finishing constructing the first ten this week.  Then they need to dry before we apply glaze and fire them.  The last step is wiring.

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Trail Markers at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

We have inscribed, glazed, and fired the wayfinding tiles  for the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. We’re now in the process of setting these triangular tiles in 3D cement sign posts that will guide visitors through the park’s walking trails.

The Arboretum and Nature Center is a 155-acre urban park  with trails, native plants and trees and a Discovery Room with hands-on activities for children. After years of delay caused by damage to the park inflicted by Hurricane Ike, we’re ready to see these tiles set in place.

You may have seen the picture we posted back in May of some of the tiles being in inscribed. We’ve had to do a lot of double-checking to be sure each trail marker is in the right place with the arrow pointing in the right direction (we don’t want to lead anyone astray!). Here are pictures of the tiles coming out of the kiln, getting lined up, and finally being set with mortar.

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New House Number Plaque Off to Wisconsin

This custom plaque is ready to ship to Deerfield, WI. We like the way the unglazed buff tiles combine with the glazed colors in the frame. The number tiles are unglazed white clay background with custom chocolate brown glazed numerals. The credit for such a graceful design goes to the client.

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