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Building History in Aromas One Tile At A Time

By Mayra Melchor, Fireclay's Production Coordinator

Recently when Mrs. Stonebloom's class came by the Fireclay Tile factory as part of a school field trip never did it cross our minds that we would become a great part of what they were planning to create for their school. We love to host students, but generally it is a tour for them to learn about using recycled materials or green building and LEED Credits.

Mrs. Stonebloom later advised us that the class was in the process of designing a mural which would depict the history of Aromas, CA and needed a little bit of our help to create it. Our Chief Ceramicist and founder, Paul Burns, was more than willing to donate all tiles and trim needed to initiate this historical and unique piece of mosaic art. Community contributions are important to Fireclay, and we have been involved with many that we are proud of. (See more community contributions here.)

Aromas is a quiet and small town with a population of no more than 3,000 residents, it is located in the middle of the Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. You would think there is no history to be told of this town, but the mural these students created would suggest otherwise.

Aromas School  Project Team and Teachers

Twenty-one students sat down and researched the town they've grown up in from indegenous origins all through the rancho period and up to the 1940's. The mural was sponsored by the Aromas School English Learner Advisory Commitee. The students, five of whom have been in the U.S no longer than 3 years, were not able to communicate verbally with their peers fluently but proved that art needs no language.

The mural titled is "The History of Aromas in Twenty Voices." The Aromas School Mural Project which stands 4 feet tall and 17 feet long was put up on June 8th, 2010, just before the last day of the school year. The students proudly told the story of how this project came about and directed me towards the school library where pictures and books were put out for us to see showing the intense process of this project. The tiles used were our Debris Series Recycled Tile, and in the process the kids also learned about re-using recycled waste materials.

Aromas School Full Mural

All in all it a wonderful sight to see after the mural had been put up for all of us to enjoy, but more so, the fact that even though this small school has also been struck by budget cuts and lost it's art teacher, this was made possible due to all the volunteers and donations that were made.

Aromas School Mural - Part 1 Aromas School Mural - Part 2
Aromas School Mural - Part 3 Aromas School Mural - Part 4

The project was recently highlighted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel as well as local news!

Aromas School on TV!

Aromas School would like to thank it's donors and volunteers:
Paul Burns of Fireclay Tile: for donating all materials (tile, glazes, kiln)
Fireclay Tile Production Manager Ramiro Plascencia: for his time, attention and technical support
Fireclay Tile Production Office Manager Mayra Melchor: for her encouragement and teaching the students the art of tile making
Hugo Marquez: for installing the tile
Tina Baine: the historical consultant
Monterey County Free Library: for supplying all historical documents and photographs
Terry Strasser: art consultant support
Guillermo Kelly-Paez: Muralist 
 

If other student groups or schools would like to do similar projects, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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