California Pottery and Tile Works Produced Tiles for Mural Restoration
In summer 2018, California Pottery and Tile Works (CalPot) produced tiles for an historic restoration of a 3,700-square-foot mosaic tile mural at the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial in downtown Los Angeles.
The tile mural backed a waterfall fountain when the memorial was dedicated in 1958. The waterfall was turned off in 1977 due to a drought, and grout and tiles became brittle, loosened and fell off the monument during the four decades since (photo below).
CalPot’s tiles, installed in a graduating pattern of dark to light colors from bottom to top, were clearly visible when the waterfall was turned once again on Dec. 13, 2018 (photo below).
CalPot’s artisans created approximately 300,000, 1-by-1 and 1-by-2-inch porcelain tiles. They meticulously hand-cut all tiles individually from ram-pressed, 12-inch by 12-inch clay. Laguna Clay Company of City of Industry, a longtime partner in CalPot’s projects, custom-blended the clay to duplicate the mosaic’s original colors – charcoal gray, light gray, rust, salmon, beige, dark brown, light blue, blue and black.
They meticulously laid out tile color combinations to duplicate computer-generated images created from photos of the original installation. Artisans placed tiles on custom-made templates allowing 1/16th inch grout lines throughout to recreate the gradient color pattern from dark to light tiles in preparation for face-mounting
Each 1-foot by 2-foot face-mounted tile panel was code-numbered and stacked to ensure correct positioning in the mural during installation (photo, below).
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works restored the monument under the guidance of Conservator Donna Williams, Los Angeles County Arts Commission Deputy Director of Collections Clare Haggarty, DPW Project Manager David Palma, lead architect Ludwing Juarez of Sparano+Mooney Architecture and contractor MTM Construction. As with many of its tile projects, CalPot worked closely with Continental Marble and Tile Company on the installation.