Northwest Profiles: Kiln-fired Murals
Northwest Profiles: Kiln-fired Murals

Painting on tile that is
destined for the Kiln! Artist Mimi Ross has created a niche
for herself in the art world by creating one of-a-kind pieces of
commissioned art that she paints, often from personal
subject matter she receives from her clients. Destined for that
special home, her murals are creations that tell a story,
complete with objects inside of dimensional curvilinear scenes.
(Mimi Ross) Everything I do is by commission so people will
either have an idea in their head or they’ll see something
I’ve already done on my website and want something similar and I
won’t reproduce the same thing over and over again it always
has to be different and new. I wanted to be and I still like to
paint oils I love painting on canvas and I never even took
pottery or knew anything about kilns or glazes I never took
that in college I just didn’t care I’m sort of self-taught and
learned how to do it my own but again it works it’s a niche
that ended up working for me.>>Mimi, a 1989 Eastern
Washington University Fine arts graduate with an emphasis in
painting, grew up near Pittsburg Pennsylvania, and knew from a
young age she had an affinity toward art. (Mimi) From the time
I was a little kid I was always drawing I mean my best friend
and I rather then say let’s go watch TV we’d be like, let’s go
draw. I wanted to be a cartoonist for a long time and I
knew I wanted to go into art in high school and I think I read
an article in the Sunset magazine about painting tiles
and how to do it so I did it for some friends then I thought
here’s a niche like how many artists get to you know support
themselves and make money off of what they do and this was my
niche.>>Beginning with a simple sketch, Mimi transfers it onto
manufactured tiles and paints over it with lead free, food
safe color glazes that are designed for tile use. (Mimi)
Before I do a sketch I really spent a lot of time researching
what somebody wants, sometimes it’s sort of like a flower and I
don’t know anything about so I have to come up with some really
great pictures for reference material. For this piece this
was like the biggest part of it the barn and this tractor I
haven’t painted yet are historic for these people this is the
only picture that they have of the barn so that was great they
supply me with a lot of reference material which for as
specific as this mural is I really had to have it. You can
see that this is kind of a pastel version of what these
glazes end up this is when there fired this is what they look
like so I’m sort of painting in pastels. And then it becomes
much more brilliant and vibrant when it is fired. This is like
the only room in this house I could do this because I need the
natural light this is really a good light that I use when I
have to but natural light is so important but I really just
can’t see what the colors are really going to end up looking
like.>>After painting various tiles, they are gathered up and
inserted into a kiln and gradually heated up to
temperature. (Mimi) It’s very hot I turn the kiln to low
setting because I have to gradually heat them up the tiles
will crack and then I come back an hour later and turned up a
little more and then one more time and then he gets really hot
and that are automatically shuts off when it gets to like 1900
degrees and then it takes almost a whole day for the tiles to be
cool enough for me to open the kiln and actually take them out.
>>With Installations all over the world, Mimi’s creations
grace the walls of many homes of people who desire to have some
personalized art that will stand the test of time. (Mimi) I
always ask for pictures of the installation and what it ends up
looking like I’ve got one in New Zealand for instance that’s in
this guy’s wine cellar that was amazing to see its huge biggest
one I’ve ever done is like 24 square feet. I have no control
over how it’s going to be installed it’s really fun to see
the final product. I feel very lucky,
most artists have a real job and then they do that
yeah I get to do what I love to do I’m very happy and
definitely fortunate.

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