Talking through tiling

Sometimes, Francey takes the fun character education lesson a little further and has the students write a poem and create a picture. She said it's not uncommon for ceramic murals to end up half written tiles and half pictures, which makes them all the more powerful.

Francey got the idea expose local children to her own passion after discovering ceramic tiles herself. Also an art professor, she had worked predominantly in drawing and painting during her professional art career.

Fairly recently, though, the Switzerland native decided to branch out and try something new by working with tiles. Her inspiration came from one of her frequent visits to Tunisia, her husband's birthplace.

"I was very inspired by the tiles that I saw everywhere in Tunisia. They have traditional houses with an inside courtyard covered with tiles and the designs really appealed to me because they're very line oriented. The way the design is conceived is you have smaller elements that if you add a few more tiles, becomes something bigger. It was really fascinating," said Francey.

Francey was also intrigued by the role fire played in the tile-making process, something she said took her a few tries to master.

"It was very difficult at the beginning because as an artist one is used to the paint and seeing what's there and then changing it according to needs, but when you work with glazes there's no way to know. It doesn't look the same as it will be once it's fired so you need a lot of experience to know what it might look like and I had to change my way of thinking," said Francey.

She said she doesn't stick to one theme or subject when creating her own art. Instead, she bounces from one thing to the next. She went through a flowers phase because of how they could be abstract and even look like "little dancers," and most recently has experimented with insects that can look like calligraphy.

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