Lasting memories, one tile at a time

Stephen Brun
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BORDEN-CARLETON – Graffiti artists have been using Darryl Lentz’s business as a canvas.

Darryl Lentz, owner of Right Off the Batt Pottery, shows off the outside wall of the studio, which is adorned with memory tiles created by visitors to the Borden-Carleton shop. The Island Memory Tile Project began more than a year ago, but has since taken off thanks to a slew of visitors over the summer. Lentz hopes the project will one day cover the entire wall with tiles.

But for the owner of Borden-Carleton-based Right Off the Batt Pottery, this is the type of graffiti you don’t mind having all over your walls.

It was during Culture Days last year that the shop began the Island Memory Tile Project, where visitors to Right Off the Batt could create their own tiles that would then be displayed together.

But the project really took off this past summer during Atlanticade, which brought thousands of motorcyclists and visitors to the area and coincided with Right Off the Batt’s grand re-opening at its new location at the foot of the Confederation Bridge.  

“We had 300 or 400 bikes right there, and people could also come and make tiles, which they did,” said Lentz. “The idea was to have people make some kind of a message that would be permanent, and they can come back next year when they visit the Island. As long as they don’t get pried off the wall, they’ll last indefinitely.

“This is like very permanent graffiti.”

Lentz has begun mounting memory tiles on an outside wall of the shop, which he hopes to eventually fill. He expects to have between 200 and 300 mounted by the end of October.

Some of the creations feature Island landscapes, children’s handprints and names of loved ones who have passed away.

Culture Days initially provided funding for the materials, but Right Off the Batt has since decided to keep the project going beyond that one event. The studio now provides the service free of charge, but memory tile sessions are only done as part of special occasions booked by groups.

The genesis of the project came several years ago when the Lentz family took part in a fundraiser for an Ontario library.

“We took part in a project in Deep River, Ontario, back in the mid-90s where… we made up these tiles, and kids were invited to come and put their hand prints in glaze on a tile,” Lentz recalled. “Now in the lobby of the library are dozens and dozens and dozens of tiles from little kids like our son, who dropped by there last year and saw his hand imprint from when he was six (years old).”

After they’re created, it takes between seven and 10 days for the shop to put the finishing touches on the memory tiles by firing them in a kiln and glazing them.

While the dream may be to one day have the tiles wrapped around the entire building, Lentz said filling the wall with memories will be a gradual process.

“We plan on continuing on with this – not an avalanche, just trickling along.”

For more on the project, visit www.rightoffthebatt.com.

sbrun@journalpioneer.com

Geographic location: Ontario, Deep River

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