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Join Swoon in transforming a building into a work of art, a center for creativity, and a place for new beginnings.
Join Swoon in transforming a building into a work of art, a center for creativity, and a place for new beginnings.
819 backers pledged $102,410 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$102,410

819

New rewards!  

Swoon -- Braddock Steel limited edition screenprint added 11/12. 

Chris Stain original stencil + cut paper added 11/12.

Dzine print added 11/12.  See photos below!

ENDS TODAY!  THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PLEDGED -- HERE'S WHY ITS SO IMPORTANT THAT WE REACH OUR STRETCH GOAL:

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 For a photo gallery of all our current rewards, see our Facebook page.  Interested in multiple rewards, or international shipping?  Drop us a line at heliotropefoundation@gmail.com. 

*  *  *

In 2007, while working on an art installation in North Braddock, PA, we fell in love with this incredible abandoned church on Jones Street. 

It was slated to be demolished within the year. We felt that the potential this space held - the ways it could bring joy and opportunity to the neighborhood - was too great to let the bulldozers roll in.

As artists who spend our lives attempting to build spaces that induce wonder and bring people joy, we felt we were the right people to work together with friends and neighbors in North Braddock to help invent a new life for the building. Our goal is to reopen this building as a living work of art that is in service to it’s neighborhood. To do this, the first thing we need is a new roof.

But not just any roof! 

We’re gonna make 20,000 beautiful, brightly-colored ceramic roof tiles by hand, in our own ceramics workshop. By making the tiles ourselves, on site, we will be starting a social enterprise: creating meaningful employment and contributing to pride of place for people in North Braddock.

When you become a part of this endeavor, you will be creating a landmark piece of public architecture that connects all of us with the idea that beauty and craft are still an important part of our lives, and with the knowledge that what was once broken can become whole in a new way. 

Let's restore this beautiful relic and create a place that changes lives in North Braddock.
Let's restore this beautiful relic and create a place that changes lives in North Braddock.

WHAT WE'RE UP TO

We are outfitting the Jones Street Church with a professional ceramics workshop. We need to purchase kilns, mixers and supplies, and renovate the basement to make it a safe, comfortable place for people to work.

When the workshop is ready, we’ll hire young people from North Braddock and train them to make ceramic tiles by hand. In addition to colorful roofing tiles, we’ll make and sell interior and decorative tiles, partnering with artists to release signature editions. We’ll get Braddock Tiles up and running as a local business.

While the workshop produces the tiles for the roof, we’ll begin the next phase: renovating the main hall of the church so that it's ready for public use, so we can reopen as a community center once the roof is done.

Master ceramicist KT Tierney at work
Master ceramicist KT Tierney at work

WHY TILES?

The church is in urgent need of a new roof, so we can stop the progress of decay and seal the building against weather. However, all the affordable roofing materials we could find contain toxic heavy metals and are imported from China.

North Braddock is a proud manufacturing town, but its people are suffering from the collapse of the US steel industry and other major employers. Those good jobs have gone overseas. Given this, it didn’t seem right to import something we could make ourselves.

So we started making roof tiles, pressing and firing our prototypes in the basement of the Braddock library. And after lots of playful experimentation, we've developed two additional hand-made product lines -- a silkscreened tile and a relief tile. We are releasing the inaugural batches through this Kickstarter.

Swoon and North Braddock artists painting the church doors.
Swoon and North Braddock artists painting the church doors.

NORTH BRADDOCK, PA

There are so many towns all over the United States that are suffering from the collapse of their local industry, and North Braddock is among them. The challenges that residents face are deeply specific, and yet lessons learned in the process of rebuilding community here will become part of a roadmap for communities everywhere. We love North Braddock and the people we've gotten to know and work with over the years. We've encountered a level of engagement and openness to new ideas that has surprised us since day one. We have come to understand this as a brave and fierce town, and we're proud to be a part of it.

WHO WE ARE

Caledonia Curry (Swoon) is a classically-trained visual artist and printmaker who has spent the last 14 years exploring the relationship between people and their built environment. Callie is the founder and lead artist of Braddock Tiles.

Since 2007, Callie has been working to save the church from demolition, with help from Braddock community members, local artist collective Transformazium, and 70+ artists who have become part of the Braddock Tiles print project.

Callie first came to the Braddock area with a few friends who were responding to a call for urban farmers to address some of the town’s vacant lots. She fell in love with the church as a structure, and also fell in love with the possibilities it represented as a way to bring people together.

When asked "Why tiles?" here’s what she has to say:

“When I was a little girl my stepdad was a house painter, and we when would drive around town and point at buildings he had painted, I thought it was some kind of miracle, and that he was the coolest. I’d like people in Braddock to be able to point up to the new roof of the church and say to their kids, 'I made that,' and for their kids to ohh and ahh with wonder.”

KT Tierney is Braddock Tiles’ master ceramicist and the studio manager of the Braddock Carnegie Library’s Bath House ceramics studio. She has lent her expertise to projects all around the neighborhood, from the construction of the SuperAdobe dome across from the church, to overseeing the repair of the church basement. KT is a ninth-generation Pennsylvanian who has lived and worked in North Braddock since 2011.

The Heliotrope Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Caledonia Curry in 2015 to manage Braddock Tiles and two sister projects in Haiti and New Orleans. 

Heliotrope Foundation Board of Directors

  • Caledonia Curry (Swoon) – Founder & Chair
  • Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beatz) – Recording artist and producer
  • Jane Golden – Executive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
  • Sallyann Kluz – Associate Director, Office of Public Art (Pittsburgh)
  • Andrew Lockhart – Founder & Director, Projekt NYC
  • Karmimadeebora McMillan – Artist
  • Sandra Powell – Art collector & curator
  • Zahra Sherzad – Founder, Zarif Design

BUDGET & GOALS

Help us meet our initial goal of $50,000 and we'll have the resources to renovate the church basement and make it a great place to work. 

Help us meet our stretch goal of $100,000 and we'll renovate the basement and purchase kilns, mixers, shelves, clay and other supplies -- and hire our first team of apprentices.

REWARDS

Keep checking back for new rewards!  For a closer look and high-res photos, check our Facebook page.   

Chris Stain original stencil + cut paper, 1/1
Chris Stain original stencil + cut paper, 1/1
Just added! Dzine print - $1,500
Just added! Dzine print - $1,500
Just added!  Swoon - Braddock Steel silkscreen print
Just added! Swoon - Braddock Steel silkscreen print

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Just added! Swoon - Braddock Steel silkscreen print



Risks and challenges

Renovations are inherently risky -- cost overruns and delays are common. We've been working with architects and engineers to eliminate surprises and minimize those risks.

Making high-quality ceramic products is a slow, painstaking process. Tile rewards will ship in January 2016 -- unfortunately, we are not equipped to ship tiles internationally at this time.

All other rewards will ship shortly after the campaign ends, to anywhere in the world.

Delays in renovating the church basement could delay our production work, but not stop it. We're making our prototype products -- including these Kickstarter rewards -- off-site in the Braddock Carnegie Library's Bath House Studio.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Your name on our online list of Kickstarter donors, PLUS exclusive photo updates from Braddock Tiles.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A thank-you card and an embroidered Braddock Tiles patch. PLUS your name on our website & photo updates.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    A thank you card and one small (4”) souvenir tile, hand-made, glazed, fired and stamped with the official Braddock Tiles seal. PLUS your name on our website & photo updates.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    One large (8”) tile, hand-made, glazed, fired and silkscreened with an original desig by Swoon. Made in Braddock, Pennsylvania with love. PLUS a thank-you card, web listing & photo updates.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    SWOON Braddock Tiles giclee print (13” x 19”). Limited edition of 350, only available through this Kickstarter campaign. PLUS a thank-you note, web listing & photo updates.

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    RON ENGLISH Braddock Tiles giclee print (13” x 19”). Limited edition of 250, only available through this Kickstarter campaign. PLUS a thank-you note, web listing & photo updates.

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    TARA MCPHERSON Braddock Tiles giclee print (13” x 19”). Limited edition of 250, only available through this Kickstarter campaign. PLUS a thank-you note, web listing & photo updates.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    MOMO Braddock Tiles giclee print (13” x 19”). Limited edition of 250, only available through this Kickstarter campaign. PLUS a thank-you note, web listing & photo updates.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    LILKOOL Braddock Tiles giclee print (13” x 19”). Limited edition of 250, only available through this Kickstarter campaign. PLUS a thank-you note, web listing & photo updates.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    JIM KIDD Braddock Tiles giclee print (13” x 19”). Limited edition of 250, only available through this Kickstarter campaign. PLUS a thank-you note, web listing & photo updates.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    One set of 3 large (8”) tiles, hand-made, glazed, fired and silkscreened with 3 unique, complementary Swoon designs. PLUS a thank-you note, & photo updates. AND we’ll proudly list your name in the stairwell entrance to the Braddock Tiles workshop & send you photos from the workshop's grand opening.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    One Braddock Tiles signature scarf hand-made in Kabul, Afghanistan by Zarif Design, a social enterprise that uses traditional slow production, fair-trade materials and natural dyes.

    The scarf is a unique collaboration between Swoon & Zarif Design, who provide economic opportunity to Afghan women and men and are all sorts of wonderful. Silk & cotton blend sourced from Afghanistan and Central Asia. Unisex, one size fits all, and available in your choice of tan, pink, or blue. PLUS we’ll list your name in the stairwell entrance to the Braddock Tiles workshop & send you photos from the workshop's grand opening.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    One large (8”) relief tile, hand-made, glazed and fired with a pressed carving of Swoon’s signature Braddock Tiles design. These are a true labor of love, made with love and LOTS of time in in Braddock, Pennsylvania. PLUS we’ll list your name in workshop entrance & send you photos from the workshop's grand opening.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    One limited-edition Swoon print featuring her signature Braddock Tiles design. Each of these hand-stained, single-color silkscreen prints are signed by Swoon and of a limited edition of 150. PLUS we’ll list your name in the stairwell entrance to the Braddock Tiles workshop & send you photos from the workshop's grand opening.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    A behind-the-scenes tour of Swoon’s studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn, led by studio staff. PLUS a gift bag that includes Swoon’s Braddock Tiles giclee print, hand-made tiles and a set of laser-cut designs from the studio. PLUS we’ll list your name in the workshop entrance & send you photos from the workshop's grand opening.

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    Pledge $1,100 or more About $1,100

    SWOON, Braddock Steel screenprint. Very limited edition, 4-color screenprint on handmade paper. 20" x 31," SIGNED by Swoon.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Dzine Screenprint! Double Barrel Purple Micro Dot, II, 2012. Signed and numbered 6/24 (lr), stamped with artist's stamp on the reverse. 20-color silkscreen with enamel inks and black flocking on 2-ply museum board, edition of 24. 18 x 18 x 1/8 inches

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Swoon will lead a personal, one-on-one tour of her Red Hook studio. PLUS a gift bag of with print, tiles and laser-cuts. AND your choice of any physical reward above. AND we’ll list your name prominently in the workshop entrance & send you photos from the workshop's opening.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    A unique artwork: Tile and paper-cut collage by Swoon, variant edition of 20, signed. Approximate size 30" x 36"

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    You will purchase the kiln that will power Braddock Tiles! Swoon will name the kiln after you and – we’ll paint your name on the front and hang a permanent sign in the Braddock Tiles workshop acknowledging your gift. PLUS a visit to North Braddock AND your choice of any physical reward above.

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Funding period

- (34 days)