Dean’s Tree of Life mosaic mural, fabrication and construction of panels 1 and 2.

Mountain Avenue Elementary School Mosaic Mural Project

kids-making-tile-photos.jpgI’ve been working with children for a long time now– it really is one of my favorite things.  I’ve taught classes and held workshops– but really I just find children’s art endlessly exciting, brilliant, and fascinating. So I couldn’t help myself when I was contacted by Chris Simmons, a passionate and dedicated elementary school teacher– who is celebrating her 37th year of teaching!   She told me

full-3-walls-before.jpgabout this project where all of the children at Mountian Avenue Elementary, painted their own ceramic tiles–  Young artists truly after my own heart! Parents got involved in the painting, and some entire families were represented! Mrs. Simmons introduced me to Sandy Russell, a generous and kind parent and PTA’er who’d been overseeing the entire project, and Kent Andrews, the affable Regional Supervisor of the district.  I had my “blank canvas”…

First Step…

finding-a-layout.jpgThe first step was to figure out a layout that would fit with the space I had.  The kids tiles had basically been painted with either a blue or a green background, suggestive of a landscape…. So I really tried to find a way to accentuate the “landscape” feel.  There was also such neat detail in the tiles, that I didn’t want to get lost.  Usually when there is a lot of activity in a composition, some negative space can help ground it– and in keeping with the “landscape” motif, I thought some “landmarks” would help unify and ground at the same time…..

Rough Layout…


Leaving some blank spots for my “landmarks” and blocking out some space for the fountains, I settled into a layout that felt right– and kept various families’ tiles grouped together.

Time to Paint!


I ended up painting and firing over a hundred tiles!

Time to tile!

tiffany-ready-for-work.jpgtiffany-working-hard.jpg  After some long, hard days of work, tile by tile, up the wall went….

Then Grout…

img_5284jpg.jpgI wanted a nice, clean look, so I used a white sanded grout

Finished Wall Mural Mosaic!

full 3 wallswall3-finished.jpgwall-1-finished.jpgwall-2-finished.jpg

Here it is!  I decided to put a border around each of the sections– Both to unify them, and to really make the tiles pop…  Blue worked great, its one of the school colors.

Close Up of Fountains…


Close Up Details of Walls!