Those of you who follow our Facebook page will already know that this week we took some of our volunteers to see how work is progressing on the terracotta tile frieze that will run around the outside of our new wing.
This is ceramic artist Taz Pollard demonstrating the amount of energy needed to fill the tile moulds with clay, bashing it down so that there are no air bubbles that might cause the tile to break in the kiln. She has well over 100 decorated tiles to make, with the help of other artists and volunteers, and another 300 plain ones of varying widths. Together they will march along the outside of our building creating a memorial to Barnstaple’s past creative industries as well as a glimpse of our museum collections.
The design of the tiles has been a collaborative process, with members of the public, including ex-workers from Shaplands and Brannams, coming into the Pop-Up museum to create new designs inspired by the best of Barnstaple’s Arts and Crafts era products. Taz had worked with these ideas to create seven different designs that all follow a floral theme, which pays tribute to the moulded flowers on the eaves of the existing building.
Once Taz had created the individual designs, her colleague Nicola made plaster moulds from these originals, so that many copies can be made of each tile.
On the right of this picture you can see a mould for one of the plain tiles which will also form part of the pattern. The builders will be given a list telling them the installation order so that Taz’s vision for the frieze is achieved.
The backs of the tiles have been gouged so that the adhesive fixes them securely, and there are also small holes for steel pins, to make sure our frieze stays in place. These won’t be visible once the tiles are installed.
Taz’s workshop is now filling up with tiles, which have to be dried slowly before they are fired. We are expecting them to be ready soon after Christmas, so that Taz can start on the next part of her project, working with local schoolchildren to create more designs for tiles around our new shop windows. We can’t wait!