Tieton mosaics

Highland Community Days festivalgoers admire one of the three new handcrafted mosaic signs in Tieton. More have been added since this sign made its debut.

Amid the revelry of Highland Community Days, supporters of a two-year-long community art project dedicated the fruits of their labors on Saturday.

Three round mosaics — two directional signs and a Tieton City Park sign — are all set atop hefty concrete columns covered colorful glass squares.

The Tieton-based designers and builders of the signs, which are inspired by New York City subway mosaics, hope one day to sell similar artwork to cities around the world.

Tieton Arts & Humanities is overseeing the Tieton Mosaics Project, a joint public-private venture with Mighty Tieton, the city of Tieton and other organizations and businesses.

A fourth round sign is almost done, said Liz Woodward, co-director of Tieton Arts & Humanities, the nonprofit arm of Mighty Tieton, an incubator for artisan and design-related light manufacturing businesses.

“The base for the Fred Koempel sign is up, and it should be finished in a week or so,” Woodward said of the sign honoring a longtime area farmer.

The largest mosaic sign, which is 91/2 feet long and says “Welcome to Tieton,” will replace the wood Lions Club welcome sign standing on the east end of town.

The Lions Club is moving its sign, Woodward said.

The signs create a memorable visual identity for the agriculture-based town of 1,200 and establish a new, self-sustaining artisan business.

“Where we’re at right now is ending it as a project and beginning it as a business,” said Lucas Spivey, co-director of Tieton Arts & Humanities and mosaics project manager.

“We can still accept grants, but now we’re ready to focus on (the) business.”

And as the only typographic mosaic business in the country and one of few in the entire world, it’s a rare business, indeed.

In particular, “Typographic work is very specialized,” Spivey said.

Tieton Mosaic has an entire city signage system package that’s available for other municipalities, he noted.

“We have a whole product line. Our flagship is customized typographic signage, but we’re also working on products for homes,” Spivey said.