What's in it for me?
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
I can’t help but think fondly of my great grandmother; I was in high school when she died. My Taylor grandparents lived close by as well and were an integral part of my life growing up. Aunts, uncles, cousins of every description all intermingled with my immediate family on a regular, weekly basis. Over time I came to realize that these people represented my roots, my lineage, my personal, albeit extended, history. I found strength and security not just in the relationships themselves but from the sense of connection to all these people and to the many before them.
Low Art Tile Works, Chelsea, Mass.,circa 1880. Courtesy Tile Heritage Foundation.
In the 1970s when I first got involved making tiles, there was this growing sense that what we were doing was part of a long-standing tradition, one that had been around for thousands of years, perhaps even since the beginnings of humankind. At that time it was difficult to find a book on the history of tile, and nothing on the people who made tiles in the U.S. So I branched out from our studio factory in search of the few others I knew of who were making tiles similar to our own. Following these initial visits, scores of taped interviews took place as I met more and more people whose lives were dedicated to tiles, their manufacture, distribution and installation. A huge family emerged with members connected by a common bond: a relationship with the earth and its bounty, an appreciation for the utility of a quality product, and the thrill of being engaged by the art that only fired ceramics can achieve. Its this history that we share, the common roots of our family in clay.
The Chariot: United States Encaustic Tile Works, Indianapolis, Circa 1885.
Courtesy Tile Heritage Foundation
by Joseph A. Taylor
Tile Heritage Foundation