Handmade Tile + Mosaics = The New Classic

Meet the latest in modern classic combinations: commercial mosaic tiles and handmade tile medallions with frames.

Mosaics are a popular trend in backsplashes for their beauty and ease of installation.  The latest in kitchen design combines many materials, where stone, glass and ceramics live in harmony.  With all the choices in mosaics and customization in handmade artwork, homeowners are able to create completely unique personalized spaces.  Handmade tiles are the ultimate in couture: Clay Decor offers custom designs, custom sizing, custom glazes, and custom shapes.  Throw in a dash of mosaics, and watch your kitchen sparkle!!

Mosaics can provide the perfect backdrop to handmade tiles of all sizes:

Stone and Glass mosaic tiles in the 'field', in addition 2x2 handmade tiles tie it all together as they are peppered throughout the backsplash.

Aurelia with Kallisto frame (Old Gold), Satin White custom-sized surround and glass mosaic background tiles


Mosaics can also be used as a matting in between handmade tile and handmade tile moldings:

Aquarius 7x7 with Glass Mosaic in-set and custom narrow molding frame.  Commercial stone field tiles.


Sidereus 3x3s together with Sidereus 1x1 dots, and handmade Pencil molding frame, filled in with stone mosaic tiles.


Unusual mosaic tiles set in a herring bone pattern work well with a custom-cut handmade medallion.  The tile was originally a rectangle, but cut to an oval, and paired with handmade molding frames.

Concordia in Metallic Black glaze, stone mosaic tile, and Rope Molding frame.

Fractured Glaze Comes to Life

Tiles pictured above are loosely laid out in the studio before shipping/installation.

Move over 2x2 accents!  For the first time, thanks to HomeTech Renovations (Fort Washington, PA), we can feature this unique finish as part of a large scale mural!

This mural was created using the Teres 5x5 tile design.  Teres, meaning 'elegant' or 'rounded' in Latin, has a raised border along the edge, making it perfect for the Fractured Glaze finish.  Subtle almond accents highlight the design where the interaction of Buttercream glaze and Ice Fractured glaze come together.  'Ice' Fractured finish makes the design sparkle as light reflects on the surface of each tile.

The finished kitchen will feature this mural amid handmade 4x8 subway tiles in Buttercream.  Hopefully we can bring you the finished kitchen installation soon!


Up-cycled Studio

I am a HUGE fan of architectural salvage.  If awesome old homes are going to be destroyed, at least craftsmanship from the past can be preserved in pieces.  My favorite source is Gothic City Antiques in Buffalo, NY. Our latest project for the studio involved taking apart an old stair banister & spindles and reconstructing them at a different slope, adding salvage newel posts, and melding an exterior railing/spindle to the works.

Amazing Barn/Studio

For those of you who have ever met a potter, many of us have our studios in barns.  Pottery requires somewhat bulky equipment and room to move with the clay.  The bigger your work, the more room you need!  My studio is in an 1850 barn (original section was built around 1800, I think :).  I'm also an old-house nut, so working in a historic building with wonderful old bones gives me inspiration and comfort.  My work is traditional because I love history and tradition.  I am surrounded by that which was built by another craftsmans' hands 2 centuries ago--how cool is that??!!

Most recently, I decided to refurbish the old floor boards from a damaged section of floor we had to take up, and will use them as wall coverings (not that the insulation isn't attractive....). :)  I did need to pressure-wash 100 years of grit and grime, so I took a picture of the boards drying.  Keeping with the salvage/re-use theme, I also had my hubby cut one of the old hand-hewn beams (severely damaged on one end), and I made a bench-half-wall out of it.  Upstate NY winters require somewhere to put on your boots!

I kept as many of the old elements as I could when converting the barn into my studio.  The original floor with it's 18-inch wide planks wherever possible, the interior doors (check out the door to my glass room), exposed beams, etc.  Although the restoration of the studio/barn is an ongoing/constant thing, I would say I am most fortunate to have such a lovely place to work all the while!

Ithaca Arts Trail

A new year just started with the Ithaca Arts Trail.  Come and visit artist studios in and around Ithaca, and browse the amazing variety of artists on their site:  http://www.arttrail.com/  I'm participating in this event, although the Clay Decor studio is still undergoing some repairs until we are officially visitor-ready.  Hopefully we will be able to swing a first Saturday at the end of Summer. :)  If you want to experience art firsthand, this is the way to do it! There is an open house weekend October 6 and 7 (2012), and certain studios open the first Saturday of each month.  Otherwise, you can contact the artist and make an appointment to visit their studio.

This is a juried exhibition put together by the hardworking folks at the Community Arts Partnership of Tomkins County.  Also, keep in mind this Arts Trail overlaps the Cayuga Lake wine trail...I'm just saying... :) http://cayugawinetrail.com/

Dear Friends, Fabulous Artists

Artisan tile is a small world (artisan, as in--tile handmade by actual artists, not carried by hand from a pressing machine to the kiln...).  These three artists (spouses included) are very dear friends and brilliant artists.  Their work is unique and beautifully formed.  We exchange technical information, moral and artistic support, and important gut-checks about shared experiences.  I cherish the connections with these amazing artists! Bella Vista Tile:  http://www.bellavistatile.com/   These tiles are a feast of color and texture woven into stunning compositions.  Check out the Tile Gallery on their site, it'll blow you away.

B.A. Schmidt Arts:  http://www.baschmidtartstiles.com/  Barbara is a wonderful, talented sculptor.  These relief sculptures are thoughtfully created with beautifully hand-applied finishes.  Her Yoga Tile Collection is amazing, but truth be told I like all her work so much I can't pick a favorite.

Also, new friends Oscar and Izzy: http://www.oscarandizzy.com  These super-nice folks were next to me at the recent Coverings Tradeshow.  But I'm not putting them in the post because they happened to be my booth neighbor...their work is FABULOUS!  Oscar and Izzy's bold retro designs feature luscious colors and outstanding compositions.  Modern and whimsical, this brilliant graphic designer is super-on-trend!

My Favorite Magazines

#1 Ceramics Monthly:  This fabulous magazine has been a staple since I graduated from college.  It features inspirational work of other ceramic artists, as well as a wealth of technical information.  If I need a new glaze, I usually find it from Ceramics Monthly.  Also a great place to find workshops and equipment. #2 Veranda:  Oh the luxury of this magazine!  And I'm not talking the ads.  The photography in this magazine is a feast of color and composition.  Just seeing the cover gives me an idea of what colors/shades are trending.  The articles give a peak inside classic designs in the most elite environments.  It's not that I want my work to be a bastion of the wealthy, rather a translation of the look and feel of this magazine in some small way.

#3  This Old House Magazine:   I LOVE old houses.  The architecture and attention to detail, especially carved embellishment, never fail to fascinate me.   This magazine is a celebration of craftsmanship by hands of the past and present.  I find wonderful ideas for restoration and re-use of salvaged materials for modern living.  As most of my work is inspired by designs of the late 1800s and early 1900s, I love the historical connections this magazine provides.

As an aside, I have tried to read fashion magazines...yawn...  When you dress in T-shirts/sweatshirts and jeans to work in 'dirt' everyday, one tends to loose interest. :)

Stuff I Love! What Inspires My Work

I'm starting a new blog category to share all of the influences that inspire me on a day to day basis.  As an artist, I hungrily consume visual and kinesthetic (touch) experiences. I love color, rich saturated hues (not white, not tan..blech).  I'm so happy those kitchens with white cabinets and splashes with my Gloss White glaze have gone out of vogue.  Not that it was an ugly look, it was very clean.   Those subtle colors just seem to subdue my large designs, and I much prefer to have color to liven-up a space.  Then again, I'm not a quiet person.  I wear purple eye shadow (every day), and have red hair (dyed not to look natural, I hope), and I can happily talk your ear off if given the chance.  :)

I'm not a huge fan of pattern as it seems visually 'noisy' to me, so when you see my more elaborate tiles, they will always be draped in a consistent glaze.  What I love about pattern, is when it is raised, i.e. when it is a texture.  I don't like a repeated design painted on fabric, but embroider the same design, especially with a heavy wool or silk thread, and I'm drawn to it.  This is why my repeating designs (like Anaglypto) are more inspired by a repetition of texture that glaze reacts to, rather than a pattern contrasted with background like in hand-painted examples.

To this end, I love luxury that is beautiful but touchable.  At a recent trade show, people kept coming up to the glass Concordia and touching the surface.  I was thrilled!  Creating an interaction of the visual and the kinesthetic connects me, connects my work, to the outside world.  This is why I insist on carving my own wood tile molds, rather than using a carving machine (CNC), and refuse to use a tile press instead of my own hands to form the tiles and sinks.  I need to touch the wood, interact with the lines as they take shape, feel the depth and texture of the design.  When pressing the tiles, I feel the clay being worked into the mold, my finger prints are on the backs of the tile as I manually refine the pressing.  Glazing is also an interaction of liquid flowing over the surface of the tile, whether I'm hand-dipping or pouring it over a larger piece.  As the heavy-cream consistency  of the glaze cascades over each design it creates a totally unique visual life for each piece.  If I tilt the same two tiles in different directions, the same designs and same materials become one of a kind, as liquid never flows the same way twice.

So this blog will focus on things that speak to me personally.  It's not that I think everyone should agree with my somewhat-odd preferences, but you will have a better understanding of the artist behind the artwork. :)