Guild’s goal is to transform town with tiles

A detail from the tile façade for Bob’s Bakery. - Courtesy photo
A detail from the tile façade for Bob’s Bakery.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

An ambitious group of artists has announced a bold plan to make Vashon a more beautiful place — one tile at a time.

The Vashon Tile Guild, made up of 12 tile and mosaic makers, designers and installers, recently announced plans for what they are calling The Tile Vashon Project. The project will pair guild members with local businesses to embellish many Vashon buildings with innovative tile work.

“What we really want to do as a group is establish Vashon as a tile destination with visually beautiful tile work in public spaces,” said Nadine Edelstein, the group’s unofficial leader.

Edelstein said the group had been inspired by Avalon on Catalina Island, Calif., a town famous for the intricate tile work embellishing its storefronts, interiors, benches, signs and every other imaginable surface.

And although the group’s goals might seem lofty, they’re already well on their with way, with their first project — a new tiled façade and sign for Bob’s Bakery — already in the works. They’re also already raising money for the effort; a tour of tile installations this weekend marks their largest fundraiser to date. 

Guild member Clare Dohna, revered on the Island for her colorful and whimsical tile and mosaic work, is the artist in charge of the Bob’s Bakery rehab.  

“One day I said it would be great to cover Bob’s Bakery in tiles,” Dohna said. “And that was it. Be careful what you wish for.”

Dohna, whose work ranges from large, sculptural outdoor art to tile-encrusted birdhouses, plans to adorn Bob’s with brightly colored tiles in the shape of gingerbread men, cupcakes and cookies. Edelstein estimated the project would cost about $5,000, which would include materials as well as compensation for Dohna’s work.

Installation, however, would be free, with guild members donating their time and expertise to install the façade.

She hopes Vashon businesses and individuals will donate to the project.

A tiled gingerbread house-shaped donation box, along with an artist’s rendition of Dohna’s ideas for the façade, has been placed at Bob’s to raise awareness for the project and allow the community to contribute money and suggestions.

Bob Long, the former owner of Bob’s Bakery who still owns the bakery’s building, said he thought the group’s idea for a new façade was a great idea.

“What an improvement!” he said. “I was very honored that they even asked me.”

The Tile Guild has other plans for Vashon as well.

“We have a list,” member Mary Lynn Buss said when asked about the Guild’s future projects.

Buss said she has approached Vashon Theater owner Eileen Wolcott about installing tile works inside and out of the theater and hopes the Guild will get the green light for that project when the work at Bob’s Bakery is finished.  

In the meantime, Edel-stein pointed to what the group, formed several years ago, has already accomplished.

Many Islanders recall the group’s first exhibition, a floor-to-ceiling installation at the Blue Heron Art Center in December 2002. The group’s most recent exhibition took place last December at Two Wall Gallery.

Other works by Guild members adorn public spaces around Vashon, including the Vashon Library, Vashon Cohousing, Chautauqua, The Harbor School and Café Luna.

The group is also the force behind this weekend’s first-ever Tile Tour, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4.

The tour, a fundraiser for the Bob’s Bakery project, will showcase five residences on Vashon where tile arts take center stage.

Pauline Richardson, an Islander who attended a recent preview of the tour, said she hoped others would attend this weekend and support the project.

“We’re an arts community, so can’t we commit to making this look like an artistic community?” she asked. “We have so much here, let’s start sharing it and showing it off.”

Tile tour

To spotlight the Vashon Tile Project, the Vashon Tile Guild will give Islanders a chance to see tile and mosaic works in five Island homes on Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3.

Stops on the tour include:

• Ron Simons and Mary Lynn Buss’s home, where tiles are installed throughout the home and garden.

• Clare Dohna’s home and garden, which are filled with handcrafted tiles, from deer mosaics to a snake path.

• Tile artist Steve Roache’s home at cohousing, where one can see his modern take on the Islamic tiles of North Africa and Spain.

• Matt and Becky Bergman’s home, an architectural showplace, featuring an entryway medallion designed by Nadine Edelstein.

• Stephen and Cindy Stockett’s English garden, with stone tile beds, fountains and pathways by artist David Blad.

Tickets cost $20, come with a map and are available at Books by the Way, Blue Heron or by calling 463-4833. Or visit

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