by Mercedes Austin
With most tile shapes pre-existing, handmade tile artisans distinguish themselves through their use of color, composition and signature designs. Tile artists embellish tile by using techniques, such as hand painting, mold making, photography on tile, hand carving, clay stamping and a multitude of kiln firing methods to create one-of-a-kind, fine-crafted art work.
The analogy I like best is one my husband makes. A musician by trade, he says, "Tiles are like guitar chords. There are no new guitar chords, only new and unique pairings of chords set to individual lyrics."
The same is true for tile and mosaics: squares, rectangles, circles and hexagons--these are all timeless shapes that get reinterpreted by individual artisans. Each tile maker has a unique tool belt, which allows him or her to customize custom work. Customer needs run the gamut: some people like period-inspired colors, others want tile shapes to evoke a specific look or feel, and still others want mosaics to illustrate simple textures or intricate designs.
With each custom project comes the opportunity for individual, artistic expression. A person's music preferences varies as much as his or her personal design style. So in creating custom styles, tile makers have become savvy in interpreting a client's taste, resulting in a one-of-a-kind art.
Medieval Cello Player
Artists AJ Rand / Nancy Froseth of Thomas Kent Collection
Size 12” x 18”t.
Handmade Tile Association
34 Thirteenth Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413