Jan Hohn, president and owner of St. Paul, Minn.-based Hohn & Hohn Inc., recently installed an intricate, complicated mural of more than 700 tiles for the St. Paul Union Depot, a travel hub in the city. Created from a design by artists Brian Boldon and Amy Baur, which intersperses contemporary and historical views of the rail system, the mural measures 6.65’ by 146.5’ in 10” by 20” porcelain tile. The artists printed digital images in glaze, squeegeeing them onto tiles and firing them in a kiln before laminating small glass prisms to the surface of the tile. These prisms are designed to catch the light from headlights at each end of the tunnel.

The installation took eight days, with labor divided among Hohn and her three employees. It presented some challenges. “It was a slow start as far as getting those tiles up,” Hohn recalled. “They were all numbered and all had to go in the right place. By the end of the first day we knew we were going to be slow as we figured everything out. Once we got rolling, we picked up speed.”

The prisms laminated to the tile also required extra care. “Those prisms were one thing about the installation that was really different. Every piece was one-of-a-kind so we had to be extra-careful. You had to really concentrate on every piece to make sure you didn’t chip it, crack it, break it or drop it. It required a lot of vigilance. You couldn’t let your guard down. The prisms also created a challenge when we were grouting because they were in the way, so we had to work around them.”

She divided the mural into two sections, with Hohn and a helper working on one side, and her two other installers working on the other side. “By the fourth day we had the installation of tile completed. The fifth day was grouting. Then we had to wait around for a new ventilation system to be put in, and that took another day or so. One of the artists who made the mural asked for help installing an aluminum frame. We took care of caulking between the tile and the border.”

She said she had never taken on a project of this scope before. “We had scheduled two weeks for it to be completed – meaning 10 working days – not knowing exactly how long it would take. We ended up getting it done ahead of schedule. There was a lot more red tape because it was a public project, so that required a lot of paperwork that had to be filled out and signed.”

The project was completed with several Tec products, including InColor Advanced Performance Grout, Roll-On Crack Isolation Membrane and Super Flex Ultra-Premium Thin Set Mortar.

Hohn called the project invigorating and one that she’ll remember for years to come. “It’s exciting. The project is in a public space, so it will be out there for a long time, and it’s something I’m really proud of. Who knows how many people will get to see my handiwork?”