Glass blower Peter Vizzusi created the blue "iris" while Stained Glass artist Susan Wagner fashioned the colorful stained glass wedges around the Gaudi eye of this Gaudi inspired piece for one of our projects. Like Gaudi's Casa Battlo in Barcelona we wanted to have glass smattered on the outside of the wall so we laid it out in a "template." The glass was transferred to the template on the ground with 1' wide clear tape and transferred to the wall; therein lay the difficult part pounding in each piece from the pattern. Random smattered glass went around the eye and the outside of the wall. The inside of the wall had a cantilever concrete seat with no visible supports. The seat faces the ocean for a splendid view. Glass runs around the outside of this undulated vertical and horizontally curved wall thanks for ceramic mosaic artist Kathleen Crosetti to give us tape and tips! The sun casts light through the eye in a remarkable way and at night is lit up with a designated light.
Tom Ralston Concrete was asked to help design the proposed Roundabout in front of the Santa Cruz Wharf near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Rather than using arrows that seemed unattractive and industrial I thought we could use dolphins that would point traffic in the correct direction of the flow of traffic. There are also traffic islands around the roundabout centerpiece that would be set in a nautical genre using an antique amber color with black barnacles and green seaweed.
Aesthetically the dolphins had beach glass, seashells, aquarium sand and each had a custom hand ground abalone eye. Each dolphin was acid stained in a particular way that gave them a very variegated and organic look.
The dolphins were made in 3-sizes: 8’; 6’; and 4’. The 8’ dolphins weighed almost 1000 LBS and had to be trucked in from our yard where they were constructed and then craned in starting at dark so that traffic would be less of an issue. We made break away forms so that when we lifted the dolphins only the two pieces of plywood remained for the straps that surrounded them for hoisting. All of the dolphins were placed on strategically placed pillars that were sloped toward the street. These pillars allowed the concrete to flow around and under each dolphin for additional strength and support. We poured a proprietary mix around the dolphins as well and then moved on to building and creating the 12-splinter islands around the roundabout.
Each island had multi-colored acid staining and used starfish, shells and small pebbles. Acid staining in veins on most of these surfaces that had steep grades made them like vertical concrete. Meandering through the mounds were rocks; four different varieties of large flat rock were turned on their sides and used to wind up and down throughout the mounds. They look like rock outcroppings on a windswept cliff but they twisted around in somewhat of a serpentine way.
Concrete has provided an art piece with function; this project can also serve to lift the soul and psyche of many of the harried individuals in traffic at the Beach Boardwalk.
Pouring the Indicator Stairs was challenging but in the end TRC after a significant setback was victorious. TRC was instrumental in designing and building the large lower concrete platform that rested and had to set up on the sand during the minus tide. Ralston used a custom mix design that he and Katha Redmon, Chemist for Granite Rock Concrete Company developed especially for this particular project. See words of praise from Keith Skaug of the Santa Cruz Long Board Union to the former Mayor Hillary Bryant. Read more about it in the Stairway to Indicators news item.
Tom Ralston was invited by the Santa Cruz Art and History Committee including local historians to design a Chinese Memorial in the Evergreen Cemetery. The memorial, the first of its kind, would recognize the Chinese presence and the vast contributions they made to develop Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Areas. TRC starts by excavating a dilapidated hillside in the Chinese section of the hillside digging footings, piers and an area to accommodate charcoal colored posts and an arched Gate. The posts and beam would have stainless steel Chinese characters that poetically speak to the toil and great efforts the Chinese had brought to the region. The characters powder coated red play dramatic on the charcoal self consolidated concrete. Master carpenter Rex Nicoliason and the crews of Tom Ralston concrete brought Tom's vision into fruition. A Spirit Money Incinerator (a ceremonial oven) is also displayed in the Chinese section of Evergreen. Read an excellent profile on this project featured in August 2014 Durability + Design magazine and a blog post by Tom.
The Cowell's Garden Project is located on beautiful West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz CA. Tide pool stepping stones fashioned by Tom Ralston Concrete will meander and undulate through the garden.
Ralston borrowed 13-different large stones from Granite Rock to make molds at The Bronze Works from the various rock outcroppings which will be laden with shark teeth, sea glass, shells and aquarium sand and finally acid stained with blends of different colors.
The Cowells Garden Project was well received and a Ribbon Cutting with left to right Sean Monaghan of the Bronze Works, Bill Goff of Tom Ralston Concrete, Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant, Tom Ralston and Designer Karen Toole featured in the picture below. View more images in the Cowell's Garden Blog Post by Tom Ralston.
The Three Princes Plaque was designed by Tom Ralston Concrete and Sean Monaghan of the Bronze Works. The plaque was to commemorate the first time anyone rode waves with a surfboard on Mainland USA. The Hawaiian Princes rode the Santa Cruz Rivermouth with large redwood boards made from indigenous Santa Cruz redwood trees at a local Santa Cruz mill. Tom Ralston Concrete was recognized by the State Assembly and is also in the Mayor's Proclamation for Three Hawaiian Princes Day on every April 9th from 2010 forward.
The Anne Clark Reflection Pond Project was a concept that TRC developed into a working plan that included blended custom colors, a water feature and suspended concrete steps in Saratoga. The adjacent patio had spacing and irrigation for ground cover installed by Shoreline Landscape and lent itself to perhaps an oriental feel. The small water feature in the middle sits opposite the indoor/outdoor fireplace. When night falls, so does lit water into an already lit reflection pond bringing about a marvelous sight.
The Black's Beach Floors evolved from a conversation between the homeowner and Tom Ralston as they were discussing what would happen if a fierce storm hit the Santa Cruz Beach homes. Ralston suggested that there would be remnants of seaweed strewn about on the floors and the rest is TRC interior floor history. The homeowner, a sailor, took his boat out and harvested seaweed from the Monterey Bay and used pieces to make molds that were in turn used to make stamps. TRC only had 3/8" space for concrete thus an engineered cement was used. TRC built catwalks to emboss the seaweed into the quick drying topping mix; the seaweed was then carefully stained with 2-different brown colors delivering a very authentic looking piece of Monterey Bay seaweed. The remainder of the floors were stained a combination of green acid stains to mimic the Monterey Bay. Read more about it in CONCRETE Moves Uptown-San Jose Mercury News July 2011, Jan 2011 Concrete Decor-Project Profile and June 2007 Concrete Decor - "Special Effects With Concrete Stains Tips and Tricks that will Help Artisans Get Creative.
The Joyce Ellington Branch Library composition was an artful project that was recognized in 2009 for "Best Artistry" at the World of Concrete. The designer, Yuki Nagase who was brought over from Japan, sculpted a large granite center piece called "The Tree of Life-Many Hands". The Public Art Project, funded by donors and the City of San Jose, hired TRC to work closley with Nagase to bring the ideas and concept to fruition. It was a wonderful project that was seamless in its construction and artistic flow evidenced by the results. TRC poured colored Pami Pebble bands to house a round stained concrete medallion that had sandblasted branches colored with black acid stain.
Tom Ralston Concrete was awarded one of the last Redevelopment Agency funded projects where the overall goal was to construct concrete terraces on the bluff on East Cliff Drive that have reproductions and actual deposits of what exists in the Monterey Bay’s Terrace Deposits. One function of this project was to conceptually create an aesthetic that lent itself to a feel of a rock/sea shelf in the Monterey Bay. The main embed was a 5-million year old whale bone that was located in May of 2010 approximately 500 yards south of the project where the replica now rests. See article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel for more pictures and information.
The Sparkle Grain Finish system is an eye-catching, black (or white) sparkle which is an iridescent black sil-car abbrasive (or white oxide) grit concrete additive that provides a mirror like sparkle that is dramatic both day and night. The sparkle grain can also provide a surface that has better traction and it has been used in the Union Square in San Francisco, The Moscone Center, in Airports around the United States, driveways, patios, pool decks and countertops. The Pacific Palette Company in Santa Cruz, CA provides Sparkle Grain and instructs users how to use it. Call 831-457-4566 for more information.
Tom Ralston Concrete was asked to pour skim coat overlays to refurbish the old Four Seasons Chapel. Shortly thereafter the new expanse opened as the Pacific Garden Chapel and the entire front hardscape was refurbished with a circular driveway, walkways and planter walls. Shortly after the work was completed the new owner had a new issue to contend with -- "railing" skateboarders. The city sidewalks were great launching pads to gain speed on and local skating hot shots would see just how far they could rail their boards on the new concrete planter wall edges. TRC was asked to come up with an artful solution to the problem which was to cast engineered cement into some molds cast from the Monterey Bay Moon Shells. Later the shells were coated with a metallic copper. Vandals destroyed many of the shells by beating on them with metal bars and eventually we used a simple piece of bronze to replace each of these beautiful artful shells. Read more about it in Feb 2004 Concrete Decor - "Tom Ralston Concrete, Santa Cruz, Calif", Oct/Nov 2003 Concrete Decor - "The Final Pour Artistic solution prevents Skateboard Damage. and Tom Ralston Concrete: Decorative Concrete Company Devises Anti-skateboard Solution and Tom Ralston Concrete: Decorative Concrete Company Devises Anti-skateboard Solution.