Tag Archives: Endangered Species

Endangered Species Awareness Tile: Mexican Spotted Owl

In 2012 Syzygy received the honor and challenge of being selected to produce the latest Laguna Clay Company Endangered Species Tile.  Each year since 1992 Laguna Clay has said thank you to their customers with a limited edition tile.  These beautiful tiles help to raise awareness of different threatened species every year.

For inspiration we looked no further than our own Gila Wilderness located just outside of Silver City. Unfortunately we had several choices as many creatures found in this massive wilderness are threatened.  Together with Laguna we selected the Mexican Spotted Owl.

Syzygy artist Ray Peelman, who handles most of our custom tile commissions, designed a stunning tile to submit for approval.  We added a quote from famed conservationist Aldo Leopold, who was instrumental in establishing the Gila Wilderness, and after some small tweaking we were ready to begin.

The process of carving the master tile and producing production molds is pretty standard for us. The real challenge came when we were ready to glaze the tiles.  We decided to use a single glaze, Desert Green, to bring this tile to life.  This glaze is a subtle brown when applied thinly and a stunning green develops as more layers are applied.  Normally we use brushes to apply glaze.  This project, however, required us to learn new techniques, experiment with different methods and utilize new tools and pushed as far as we have ever gone to achieve a desired look on a tile.


We created miniature rollers to apply glaze to the quote surrounding the tile on two sides.  This allowed us to “quickly” apply glaze to the letters and maintain an unglazed background for greater contrast.


Next we learned how to bulb glaze.  This is a fairly common glaze application technique but not one that we use here at Syzygy.  Again, we did this to create higher contrast between the background and the owl and tree that are the real focus of the design.


Next we worked on the owl and the tree that it rests in.  We spent many days perfecting our technique on practice pieces before attempting it on the limited edition tiles.  The challenge was to apply enough glaze to accentuate the design while keeping the contrast that allows the owl to stand out.


Finally, the branches that defy the borders were glazed with a brush that we don’t pick up very often. Fortunately, Mel has the hands of a brain surgeon.


The results exceeded even our high expectations for this project.  We are immensely proud of our efforts and the tiles that they produced.  Feel free to stop by our showroom to see our Mexican Spotted Owl and all the other endangered species tiles that we are collecting here at Syzygy