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Jeffrey Bale, Rock Star

On 24, Dec 2009 | 2 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin

A recent article in the New York Times introduced us to the amazing pebble mosaicist Jeffrey Bale. The Portland, Oregon based artist has cultivated an A-list following for his eco-friendly, sustainable landscape designs that incorporate beautiful mosaics he makes himself.

We quickly e-mailed Mr. Bale at his website,, to ask permission to use his photos. Faster than you can say “Buon Natale”, he emailed back from Rome with a “yes” and additional photos you see below.

(Photo of Mr. Bale by Stephanie Diani for the New York Times)

The Times article does an excellent job of covering Bale’s obsession with all things rock and masonry. He has travelled the world studying the masonry styles of various cultures and searching out new and interesting rocks and fossils to use in his designs. In fact, when we corresponded, he told us that he is off to Tunisia by way of Beirut after the first of the year.
We were very interested to learn that Bale’s installation techniques vary substantially from the “traditional” approach to pebble mosaicing in two ways. First, he uses the direct method, pouring mortar in small sections in situ and placing the stones in his designs within the short amount of time it takes for the mortar to set up. The Times got Maggie Howarth to comment:

“Jeffrey is able to cope with the adrenalin and backache, I’m sure, which goes with working against the setting time of the concrete,” said Maggy Howarth, a pebble mosaicist from Lancashire, England, and a scholar of the art form who wrote “The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook.” “So he gets a very organic, instinctive effect, which goes well with his rich colors and decorative designs.”

Second, Bale places his stones on edge with the majority of each piece being submerged below the surface. Bale says that this helps to eliminate the possibility of stones “popping out”.

The Times article centers around a project he completed this month for the actor Tony Shalhoub (of “Monk” fame) and his wife, the actress Brooke Adams. In the photo to the right, one can see him at work.

Mr. Bale tells us that the article has the usual “gross factual errors” in it and gave us the following corrections:

1) He uses mortar, not concrete
2) He does not use plywood borders
3) Mr. Shalhoub does not chew his nails

There you have it. A bit of a MAN exclusive. Oh my. Who’da thought we’d be correcting the Times.

(Photo of Mr. Bale by Stephanie Diani for the New York Times)

Don’t let these small inaccuracies stop you from reading the article which, like we said, is fabulous. There is a wonderful slide show as well. Click here:

Enjoy — Nancie

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  1. Jinet Mosaique

    That rocks… Nancy you make me laugh. It's a joy following this blog. Happy New Year to you, Bill and Michael.

  2. Maureen

    Stunning work. I will take a look at the Times article. Thank you.