By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

The sound is cringe-worthy, bringing to mind what happens when you drop a mug on the floor.

That’s nearly what’s happening in the art room at Baker High School — although in a more controlled manner.

Local artist Andrea Stone is spending six weeks with the Earth and Fire classes to create mosaics using eight years worth of broken pottery saved by art teacher Kristen Anderson.

Each of the 60 students created their own piece, which will be mounted alongside a collaborative mural and placed as public art in downtown Baker City.

“We started talking about this three years ago,” Stone said.

To kick off her six-week residency in the art classes, Stone gave a talk about public art. The overall theme of the projects is nature — specifically, trees.

“We talked about Baker being a (Tree City USA) for 33 years,” Stone said.

Each student sketched a design. Most include trees, and some feature other items unique to Baker County such as cows, Anthony Lakes and wagons.

Once set on a design, the students began sifting through buckets of broken ceramic pieces to create their image with varying colors and textures.

“The kids have been great. It’s just a different way of coloring or painting,” Stone said.

And tiny piece by tiny piece, the landscapes are taking shape.

“It’s tedious, but I like tedious,” said Koedi Birmingham, a senior.

Her mountain scene includes miniscule deer she created by snipping edges from black pottery using a special tool.

Each piece is glued to a piece of mesh, which is secured to a board and portable for class. The goal is to finish by the end of term in January.

Once done, Stone will have the students help finish the pieces with mortar.

The idea is to have a large mosaic mural surrounded by the individual pieces by each student. Stone said the finished product will include two panels both measuring 5 feet by 8 feet.

These will be installed on the south side of the New Directions building, on the one-way portion of Broadway Street between Main and Resort streets.

Prior to deciding on the location, the artists worked with the city’s Historic District Design Review and Public Arts commissions.

Stone said she will consult with contractors on the best way to secure the murals to the building.

Funding for this project will come through Crossroads Carnegie Art Center.

“Crossroads is dedicating a portion of the National Endowment for the Arts Challenge Grant for ArtSpeak to this project,” said Ginger Savage, Crossroads executive director.

“The NEA Challenge America grant is for helping at-risk populations in creating public art with young people,” she said. “When the high school came to me it was a perfect fit. The grant allows us to buy materials and help young people create this type of art.”

Crossroads still needs a little more than $900 to meet the $10,000 challenge grant.

“We are super close to getting the challenge grant met,” Savage said.

Donations can be made at Crossroads, 2020 Auburn Ave. For information, call 541-523-5369.