Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Olivia's Mural

This is Olivia's mural.
*sigh of relief*

Today, when we were putting the finishing touches to this mural, we realized that we had started working on this project in 2011. Some things take longer to jot off the to-do list, but in our line of work we've grown accustomed to this. This was, by no means, a quick-fix kind of project .. so *phew* and a well deserved *phew* if I may say so myself.

Oh, and when I say 'we' I mean me and my dad. Despite some very evident differences in opinion, we somehow managed to finish this one joint commission in one piece. Fuelled by one too many tepid coffees and minute-steak sandwiches, we have, today, bid adieu to what we hope will be the first of several custom ceramic projects.

Rewind to 2011.

This is the 'inspiration board I came up with in 2011.
This had to
 (a) convince my friend Olivia that she needed/wanted this mural in her home,
(b) convince her architects that despite my lack of 'rendering' skills, I knew exactly what I was talking about
(c) convince my dad, a no-nonsense ceramist in his own right, that I wasn't being downright silly/difficult.

I am grateful for the trust!

To do list:
(a) source some olive branches from tal-Providenza, l/o Siggiewi
 (*stealth and pocket-knives to go)
(b) grab a big-ass rolling pin and press some sense into huge slabs of clay
(c) let your inner geometry demons and memories of Moroccan rest-rooms take hold of you,
and chop chop chop them tiles

When I'm allowed into my dad's home studio, I tend to take up all of the space available.
That's me in the background, highlighting the olive branches in a medley of green engobes.
When I'm allowed into my dad's home studio,
I also make it a point to sweep the floor clean with my trousers ...
the way I see it, I'm really doing him a favour!

There you have it - the 4 steps before the first of 2 firings

organize, re-organize and keep very very still

this is, hands down, my favourite part of any tile project .. hand painting custom tiles according
to a loosely laid out plan in my head. I know Olivia well and that, to a certain extent,
made my life easy .. but I still wanted to surprise her by inserting some, perhaps,
unexpected details. So alongside tiles that would hopefully remind her of her (then recent)
travels to Morocco and Japan, I took the liberty to throw in ...

... a three dimensional frame with a bird sitting atop it...

... a not-so-hidden dedication ...

... and some bad-ass anatomical detail for good measure!

Yes, this is my favourite tile - it hangs alone at the very top of the
mural right above where the mirror will be installed.
Seen here, my 'manicured' (ha! funny!) hand gently scrubbing it clean. 

On site - footprints in the dust and a whole lot of measuring going on!

cutting and trimming and gluing and fitting ...

PS: dad's expertise is second to none - there I said it (best daughter in the world etc etc)
the meltdowns, not so much :p

... and trimming some more.

PS: this wet tile saw is my new best friend. Fuck off, rest of the world.

There you have it, after two years of on'n'off work, two scorching kiln firings, the even more scorching wake left behind by two fiery tilers, two large sheets of marine ply-wood that almost didn't make it upstairs into the bathroom and two-hundred cups of coffee - fitted, grouted and dusted.

I've learnt so much in the process - technical terms/buzz words such as 'friza', 'kurrenti' and 'horrox, borrox u il-'grouting' jghatti kollox' as well as how easy it is to blend in a crowd of construction workers at the bar when you're covered in equalizing dust and evidently sharing their main goal (ie: Kinnie and Ftira Bajd u Laham). I want to do this over and over again - bonding time and all!

Olivia,  we await your reaction .. *fingers crossed*
and just so that you know I have never wanted to keep something I've done MORE!


  1. Wow...that is just amazing :) Well done!

  2. You have the Midas touch Ms Muscat. Gorgeous.

  3. Thanks for your encouraging comments x

    I really loved working on this and hope that it shows

  4. Wow Maria! a big well done! I am utterly impressed astonished and mesmerised at the same time!

  5. Where does Olivia I can go and steal it? :) Prosit tassew!

  6. you never seise to amaze me xx Huge congratulations to you its truly wonderful and is a timeless piece to be treasured by its lucky owner xxx

  7. You're one hell of a talent. Heartfelt, PROSIT!

  8. must highlight_bold_underline the inestimable help my Dad was throughout .. I'd feel guilty taking all of the credit myself.. he's the brawn behind the fanciful brush strokes of yours truly!

  9. Will you take further commissions? I want one! An amazing piece of work - well done to you both T:-)

    1. definitely .. would love to work on something similar again <3