Shimmering mosaic wall panels are nothing new here at 3rings (see Bisazza Crystal Collection), nor are innovative uses for reclaimed glass (see Bendheim Wall Systems); there’s not even anything particularly unusual about claiming curbside detritus and re-purposing it into contemporary furniture with an edgy, urban vibe (Chris Rucker’s Eco-Chic). But we’ve yet to see the likes of Ceramist Ellen Blakely’s custom tile.
Ellen Blakely’s Shattered Glass Pieces.
The principal and namesake of Santa Rosa-based Ellen Blakely Studio has synthesized the three aforementioned concepts into one singularly intriguing product—mosaic tile made from re-purposed tempered safety glass. The seed of Ms. Blakely’s current raison d’etre germinated one day at the unlikely location of a shattered San Francisco bus shelter: “vandals had shot out the glass with BB guns; it lay in glittering heaps on the asphalt. I started experimenting with the tempered glass, soon realizing that the transparent surface would lend itself to endless design opportunities.”
A timely realization that, especially given that the product conforms to several exacting eco-conscious standards: high-percentage recycled content (shattered tempered glass is almost always discarded), high-durability and fade-resistance, local sourcing, water-based grout, and low VOC paints. Blakely’s tiles are simple to work—they can be easily cut on a wet saw, so they’re surprisingly versatile. The construction consists of backerboard with a decorative pattern overlayed by the mosaic of tempered glass, an effect achieved via a captivating network of meandering veins of grout. Or, in Blakely’s elegant terminology, “the grouted arteries function as nuanced maps to reveal the jewels beneath the surface.”
Fall Leaf From Spotlight Collection. Designed by Ellen Blakely.
After Dark from Elements Collection. Designed by Ellen Blakely.
Said jewels include several lines with differing aesthetic imperatives. “Elements” aspires to duplicate the primeval stuff of our planet’s base components—the tiles in this line have a rough, sublime quality that reminds me of igneous rock; “Spotlight” features twelve styles that each evoke the different ways light reflects and refracts off a given surface; and “Core” explores the different organic and ornate qualities of a wide array of precious materials.