Designing a Fireplace surround with Art tile & Sculptural accents

Designing a Fireplace surround:

People are visual — They NEED to see it before they can picture what it will look like. A semi colored sketch will often show geometric design and layout prior to a large expenditure on materials & supplies.

Consider color, theme and texture [ low relief /high relief]. Patterns, designs and composition when deciding on an overall layout.
Tile can be designed in any shape or form– from majolica, geometric patterns, abstract flowing lines to classical figurative works. Tile can be arranged in mosaic shapes similiar to stain glass windows. Clay can also be formed into any period or artistic era such as baroque frieze, Mucha’s Art Nouveau, Impressionists, Picasso to modernism.  Tile can be arranged in story form like pages on a book. The ideas are endless….In fact so endless it hurts the creative head.

Sketching helps to sort out composition as you can erase what you do not need or add what is missing in a design. Simple colorful sketches give a basic idea of what to expect in a design. In the photo above Pistrucci Artworks was asked to formulate a plan for a fireplace surround with a width of 7″.  The clients had a beautiful love story that spanned 30+ years – symbolizing their relationship with a bridge. The Client an artist herself had painted several ethereal paintings with figures and a bridge and requested this in the design of the surround.  My tile line only had female figures but the clients wanted to incorporate a male on one side and a female on the other. We drafted a design with a keystone tile – bridge, a male figure and a female figure complementing each other in pose and composition.

Clay sketching also tells you whether the design will compliment an already existing piece.

Here is the clay sketch of the male figure:

            Clay sketch

Artists : Angela Pistrucci / Jeremy Hileman

Male figure was inset into the tile of  swan lake replacing the left side female figure & still matching pose to female right side.

Designing and drawing can be alot of work but well worth it considering your fireplace surround is in the most used room in the house and is important in every detail. You need to absolutely love the design and the craftmanship because you will be spending many hours in it’s presence. Take your time and consider all your needs & wants. What are you most attracted to? The colors of a peacock or the soft muted browns and greens found in nature? What era are you the most in love with – colorful impressionists, the bright colors of a picasso or the dark meaningful and poignant emotions found in a rembrandt? Are you looking for warmth and comfort or are cool contrasts and abstract simple lines more favored? What kind of art will you be displaying in the space? How will it compliment your design?

Once you have established the main themes, colors and designs that attract YOUR attention – then and only then can you begin to design and install art tile that will have long lasting and permanent enjoyment in your home.

Rough sketch of swans for keystone bridge tile.

Take time to notice and look at colorful photographs observing the colors that harmonize with each other.  For more information on designing with color I recommend subscribing to a few blogs that appeal to you and have great color ideas and designs. They will inspire your creativity and add color compliments and combinations that you might of otherwise overlooked