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Local Artist crafting 300 ceramic tile mural for Student Union

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
This article is part of a feature series on military members and their families unique hobbies by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade

What started as a simple sketch for a ceramic-tiled piece of artwork to hang in the soon-to-be newly constructed Student Union, has turned into an oversized, 23x7-foot long masterpiece of the base and the local area.

Using more than 300 ceramic tiles that she made herself, local artist Claudia Gullet, is putting the final touches on the piece that will be displayed when the Student Union opens in June.

This New Mexico native has been producing ceramic pieces for her own freelance business now for 14 years, and recently instructed ceramics classes at the Scott Arts and Crafts Center until 2012 when she decided to take a break from teaching to focus on her customers and skill.

So, when Col. Michael Hornitschek, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, asked if anyone knew someone who could tackle a project like this, the Arts and Crafts Center director, Gary Olds, knew just the person for the job.

Hornitschek explained that he had always remembered a large tile project from his hometown in Hartford, Wisc., that depicted the local history and flavor of the community and he wanted something similar for Scott AFB.

"In the design plans for the Student Union, there was this large, empty wall, so I saw in my mind that a ceramic piece would be a lasting and durable tribute to our own history and community, and I think people are going to be blown away by what they see," he said.

Gullet said she met with the commander who "was quite surprised that she already had a sketch ready in her hand." The company contracted to build the Student Union subcontracted Gullett for this piece of work and ever since then she's been working nonstop to get it completed in time.

"What I like about this project is that it's the result of so many ideas that turned into one final product. It's taken a lot of commitment and skill to create a tiled-mural this complex. We started mid-February and for 16 weeks now I have been working nonstop in my basement studio on this mural. I come upstairs only to eat, and I am delaying my summer vacation so I can complete this mural on time. But it will be worth it in the end. I am very excited to see what the base thinks of the finished project."

Gullett, who's also a military spouse--her husband is Col. Jon Gullet, Defense Information Systems Agency Transportation Command field office commander--said she' glad there has always been some type of skills development center wherever she's lived as that has helped fuel her talents.

"I first became interested in pottery when we were stationed in Hickam AFB, Hawaii, in 1997. I walked in to get something framed and saw a small studio in the back. When I walked back there I saw artists working with clay, and I began to ask questions."
So Claudia decided to take some pottery classes and three years later her curiosity led her to a new career of pottery.

"That's one of the advantages of being a military wife you get to travel the world and experience what every single base and its surrounding culture has to offer to you," she said. "I have been able to take classes from the masters. I have just happened to be stationed at the right place at the right time to learn from some of the greatest artists."