Tag Archives: back splash tile

Inspiration in Hand Made Tile

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I would like to think that my art tile creations are one-of-a-kind and completely unique. While the methods I employ are not common today due to the intensity of the labor involved, I did find some historical roots and some very interesting similarities in the work of Henry Chapman Mercer. I had been using the “wet cut” technique for a few years before stumbling upon Mercer in a book about the Arts and Crafts period. Not only did Mercer cut his tiles from wet clay in a free form manner, he also depicted many of the same natural subjects I choose to use in my work.

Sea Serpents (Morovian Tile c. early 1900’s)

Hippocampus & Mermaid Floor (Pacific Art Tile c. 2006)

As it turns out, Mercer was a very interesting man indeed! Mercer founded the Morovian Pottery and Tile Works in 1898 and went on to create tiles that were installed in many famous buildings, including the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. Mercer built three buildings that are now a part of the National Historic Register: Fonthill, The Mercer Museum and the Morovian Pottery. Tiles are still made at the studio to this day, however Mercer eventually simplified the process to allow the use of molds that were supplemented with handiwork, rather than entirely made from hand.

I am fascinated by the fact that Mercer and I share similar techniques and subject matter, we were both born in Pennsylvania, albeit 100 years apart and get this….. we even look alike! Check it out.

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Tile Art 101

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This marks the first post in this blog dedicated to the art of ceramic tile making. In the posts to come I will look back at the history of ceramic mosaics as well as explore the many creative ways tile and tile art is being used today. I will post public and private art installations, offer tips to create, install and preserve tile art works and feature tutorials on the process of hand made tile mosaic creation.

I personally employ a technique of tile mural creation that closely resembles the effect of stained glass. In the process of “wet cut mosaic” a sheet of raw clay becomes the canvas upon which the design is drawn. The wet clay is cut into hundreds of pieces, which are hand cleaned, embellished or incised, fired, glazed and then fired a final time. Unlike tile murals that utilize a traditional square tile format, usually on commercially purchased tiles, each piece of my artwork becomes a compelling and important piece of the overall design. The myriad of pieces are then reassembled, not unlike a giant jigsaw puzzle, and then installed into finished form.I have been creating custom tile murals one piece at a time since 1989.