E-News Winter 2018

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E-News for Winter 2018
Here’s What’s Below

Merola Tile Sponsors Hand-Print Mural Workshop

Global Monument Hand-Print Mural:
“You can have a HAND in it!“

Landmarking Empire State Dairy

A Statement from the Artist:
Katia McGuirk

Eric Rattan: Born to Dance

New Book: Banking on Beauty



Merola Tile, Sponsor of Monumental Mural, Holds Workshop!
On Friday, February 23, 2018, National Tile Day, the first of many Global Monumental Hand-Print Mural workshops was organized for the 90+ employees at Merola Tile in Manalapan, New Jersey. The full day event was organized by Katia McGuirk, mosaic artist, tile maker and THF board member who had this to report:
“The Merola Tile family is extraordinary! Diverse, kind, gracious, happy at work, loyal and eager to share their stories. All expressed and experienced the joy of creating! It was with joy in my heart that I touched and was touched by so many wonderful folks who loved their short/sweet conversation with clay. The Merola magic is real!”

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PLANNING on ATTENDING COVERINGS’18 - Atlanta in May 8-11th 2018?
You can REGISTER NOW… and grab your opportunity to PRE-REGISTER to participate

You can have a HAND in it!

This is a DONOR wall for POSTERITY
to be installed at Tile Council of North America, Anderson, SC.
Sponsorship supports the production and installation of the Monumental Mural. 
Current Hand-Print Mural Supporters and Sponsors include:
COVERINGS’18, TCNA, Taffy Event Strategies, Freeman Company, Merola Tile/Somer Tile,
Katia Tiles, InterCeramic, Clay Squared, Doty Tile, Mudfire Studio, Highwater Clays,
Alfredo Ratinoff Art, Georgia Tech Industrial Design Dept.,Volunteer Match.com



Participation Station Workshops can be established at multiple locations providing an evening or weekend venue for pressing hands, logos & names in clay. Tile Heritage offers detailed guidelines to follow for fun and successful events.
Individual & Studio Participation: Tile Heritage provides detailed specifications and instructions to assist you in making your own “Hand-Print” mural tile! 

Purchasing a T-shirt supports the industry archiving work of the Tile Heritage Foundation in addition to contributing to the Monumental Mural to be installed at TCNA honoring all who participate in and contribute to the Tile Industry today
In 1999, while driving along Atlantic Avenue, through the East New York section of Brooklyn toward JFK Airport, I stopped for a red light and looked up at a building that had two very large and colorful murals under the cornice. I got out of the car and was startled to see that they were tile murals of rural scenes, one with a man in lederhosen leading a bull, and the other with a woman leading cows. I took some photos and went into the plastics manufacturing company on the first floor. I spoke with the owner of the company, and he showed me the original building plans from 1913 that he found when he bought the building. The drawing of the front elevation of the building showed the two murals indicating that they were site specific. I took photos of those, also.

I researched the building and the architect listed on the plans, Otto Strack. I discovered that the Empire State Dairy Company built the building, not the Borden Dairy Company, whose sign was on the building. Otto Strack was a well-known architect from Milwaukee who worked on the first Empire Dairy Company building in 1907.

The “Four Seasons” of Artman Lutheran Home Four Seasons 1


A Statement from the Artist: Katia McGuirk

The “Four Seasons” of Artman Lutheran Home in Ambler, Pennsylvania is a site-specific installation that explores the seasons as a metaphor for the stages of life. Directors of this senior residence hired me to 1. Create a permanent artwork on the exterior of a new building that would be a celebration of 100 years of senior care. 2. Involve the community in the work. 3. Create a timeless design.
Through my work, I seek larger meaning at the intersection of arts, education and social justice. The conversation, engagement and connection with community inform my work. I bring communities together to beautify, personalize and make more meaningful the spaces they inhabit. Often our seniors are no longer valued as productive members of society and subsequently are stripped of their self-esteem. It is my passion to re-frame these stereotypes by freeing up their creative potential. Together we become a culture that mutually values and benefits from the ‘work’


Thematically, most of my studio work is about exploration and discovery of familiar domestic and indigenous animals in a whimsical way. I use clay to intuitively explore, in a playful manner, to create ripe earthy storybook scenes with the timelessness of a magical realism. I was raised on a large working farm and am the 12th of 15 children. I spent much of my childhood with my many animal friends, caring for and imagining them as characters in stories.
I use traditional tile production methods and industry standard setting techniques. For me, the allure of clay is the directness of touch and feel in exploring texture and surface while I free my mind to sculpt one of a kind bas-relief tiles of flora and fauna. I roll slabs of clay, draw on it first and then use additive methods to build up the surfaces. The four Animal totems that are placed in the lower right corner of each panel are over sized, so I cut them into shapes that will fit into the kiln. I also make plaster molds so that I can press repeat elements (leaves, holly and pine cones). I use a mid range, frost proof clay body and I fire in large electric production kilns.


I rely on 36 years of professional experience with clay and tile making to guide me through the technical and scientific aspects of the clay, glaze, firing and setting.
My community involved programming is built around creating a safe environment for the social and emotional exploration of clay. On this project I was able to guide the staff, residents, and their families through a series of simple exercises, using simple and familiar tools for our seniors (rolling pins, lace and cookie cutters) to create wonderful tiles that embodied their stories.
Though the empathy for the material is still there for me, making tiles and tile systems for traditional residential settings became meaningless for me after 15 years of making tiles for high end showrooms around the country. Part of it was a lack of connection, as I rarely saw the tiles in situ.


Making tiles to be sold individually in galleries also didn't keep me engaged or inspired as they were “one offs” not connected to anything. I have always had a consistent and strong studio practice and have been creating tableaus of work. In the last 20 years I have been exploring “mosaic art.” I like large-scale projects and I surround my handmade elements with shards of colorful tiles that fill out the negative spaces to create a painterly backdrop that unifies the picture. I continue to be inspired by Henry Mercer since my early development as a tile maker in the ‘80s.

From the artist: Thanks to Katlyn McKinney, the Administrators and residents at Artman Lutheran Home. Thanks to Vinny Malzone and Brooke Conroy for workshop assistance. Thanks to Tracey Patrick and Kelsey Jackson for studio assistance. Big thanks to Trish Metzner and Beverly Godfrey for studio assistance and installation expertise.

Read more about Eric Rattan . . .

Banking On Beauty

Banking on Beauty
by Adam Arenson
Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California
University of Texas Press, 2018

This enchanting story that celebrates the relationship and achievements of an artist, Millard Sheets, and his patron, Howard Ahmanson, originated in the mind of a child, a fantasy engendered by a picture on a building, a mosaic mural on a Home Savings branch in La Mesa, California.

From the author, Adam Arenson, from his Introduction: “The book chronicles the business of art production and the history of business arts patronage, joining a new trend in histories of the intertwined concerns of art, design, business, politics, urban and suburban planning, and popular culture in postwar America. The Home Savings commissions shaped the corporate and cultural landscapes of Southern California. The time has come to tell their history, to demonstrate their significance, and to argue for their preservation -- before it is too late.”

Winter 2018

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