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Creating a Tidepool Community

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

In August 2019, I was asked to create a hands-on activity for participants of the Oregon Community Foundation's Studios to Schools "rendezvous" that would be meeting in my area.

They would be only here for a few days and we hoped to create something meaningful to their shared experience. In previous years, they had met in other parts of the state and learned things like printmaking. This was my chance to engage them through mosaic, and highlight their brief stay on the central coast of Oregon. There were a few challenges: a short timeline, work on-site at Salishan Resort in a room with carpet and no water, beginner friendly activity and accommodate up to 100 people!

This summer there had been several minus tides on the coast, and I had explored the tidepools repeatedly, enthralled by the colors and textures of this underwater world. The intertidal zone was populated with anemones, sea stars, barnacles, mussels, fish, seaweeds, crabs, and so much more. And just steps from my studio door! This became the basis of my design for the OCF group, to create a mural that would end up at their office in Portland with sea creatures made by participants of their program.

Over 60 participants tried their hand at mosaics, creating small glass tidepool creatures using prepared templates with clear contact paper to temporarily hold them in place. They were later transferred to a permanent substrate, and I created the landscape features.

Cleaning the mural after grout. I used two colors, so the masking tape is still in place.

After the panel was complete, my friend Gary Burman created a custom frame. He is a talented local craftsman in my town of Lincoln City who also makes frames for his wife Nora Sherwood, a natural science illustrator. Gary used reclaimed cherry wood from a tree in Oregon that had fallen in a windstorm and was milled into lumber.

In the next couple weeks, the piece will be installed at its permanent location at the offices of Oregon Community Foundation in Portland, OR. Learn more about their work here.



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