Kendall resident Dimitrios Gulbalis recently donated a tile painting to the Village called Birds of the Everglades. “There are areas in Pinecrest that need something,” Gulbalis says. “My main thing for the donation is to make it look nice.” He saw a need to enhance the exterior of the recreation building at Coral Pines Park, 6955 SW 104 St.
“It’s a building that they rent for activities and parties,” he says. “It’s like a community center.”
Gulbalis adds that the donation was an opportunity to do something for the Village.
So he talked to someone who knows the mayor.
“She contacted her, I met with the mayor and they liked the idea,” he says. “I tried to talk to them first before I do anything. When I know what they like, I sketch it out.”
Gulbalis made sample sketches and Village officials chose the one they liked. He had to make some minor changes to the selected sketch because the officials wanted the mammals removed.
“It was a fox and a raccoon,” he says. “There were empty spaces, so I had to reorganize the whole thing. I put a spoonbill in the space; blue herons, white herons and spoonbills.”
That wasn’t a problem since a lot of his paintings are of birds.
“I do the sketching on the computer, but I do the sample in tile,” he says. The sample measured 19 by 24 four inches, but finished mural is five by 12 feet wide. It took almost two months to complete the project because he made a sample section of the tile mural first.
“I wanted to do that before I did the larger,” Gulbalis says, adding that it’s important that he sees what the painting looks like on tile before he begins work on the actual mural. Also, Pinecrest officials wanted to see what the mural would look like before it became a permanent fixture in the park. Once the officials agreed on the painting, he went on to complete the project.
“I painted the tiles, I fired the tiles, then I transported them and glazed them myself,” he says. “They are fired tiles. They go into a kiln after the painting with a glaze.” Gulbalis fired the tiles in sections to make sure the colors matched after each firing. Once the tiles were prepared, he needed to affix them to the building. He used regular mastic to affix the six by six inch tiles to the building. The advantage of the tile painting is that it is permanent. “No one will have to do anything about it because it’s outdoor tile,” he says. “Nothing will happen to it.”
Pinecrest officials were quite happy with the final product, and even staged a formal unveiling and gave Gulbalis a plaque. Now he’d like to get more donations and beautify more of South Miami- Dade. He already has murals at Homestead Animal Hospital and Trimline Kitchens.