Artist and sculptor Jay Gibson has created a vast array of art bronze tiles available through high-end flooring shops throughout the country as well as on his website at www.metaphorbronze.com.
The tiles, grouped in collections under such names as Botannicals, the Sea, Epicurean, Bamboo, Cubist and Coastal Rock, depict seashells, sunflowers, geometric forms, even the surface of tree bark. “Some of these are things I see in my everyday life, when I walk on the beach in Maine in the summers or through a forest,” says Gibson.
Usually the tiles are used as decorative accents, such as border pieces in a room, a centerpiece in a kitchen backsplash, a design in a shower wall, or an inset in a floor, but there are a number of other creative uses for it, Gibson notes. Designers of the 2002 Winter Olympics Village in Salt Lake City ordered 700 tiles in the Pine Cone pattern for a four-sided fireplace in one of the lodges. One of Gibson’s customers inserts the tiles in custom mirror frames, while others have used the tile in cast-concrete countertops or stone tabletops.
Art Deco-inspired Empire
Gibson, who graduated from the Pratt Institute of the Arts with a degree in photography, has had careers in fine art photography, sculpture and metalwork. It was while Gibson was working in the latter enterprise that he met the renowned residential and spa designer Clodagh, who commissioned him to create the bronzework for one of her projects, the Manhattan store Felissimo. Gibson went on to create fireplace grills and all kinds of other metal work in residences and other commercial spaces that Clodagh was involved in designing.
Discovering that the tile industry wasn’t producing metal products, Gibson recognized a business opportunity that would showcase the talents of artists. He started with eight tiles on a coastal theme, and now his company, Metaphor Bronze has 18 lines. He also has started selling welcome plaques and single tiles framed in natural and Mission-style borders.
The tiles come in two finishes, bronze and nickel silver, and the patinas (or aging) is applied by the artists who produce the tiles. Because the patinas are applied by hand, "the color may vary slightly depending on the mood of the artists that day," Gibson playfully notes on the Metaphor Bronze website.
Gibson and four other sculptors design the growing collection, and he pays the artist a royalty on each tile he sells. “I design most of the architectural pieces, like the new Deco tiles and the moldings,” says Gibson, “and I act as a producer with my collaborators on the other collections.” He should know about producing. Gibson is a playwright and filmmaker, and he recently was one of the finalists in the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference for 2002.