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Original tile art can be created from hand formed green (unfired) tiles, allowing for "etched" or scraffito designs (see image below left) or bisque (pre-fired) tiles in standard sizes (see image below right).

"Wright at Taliesin West" 6" hand formed etched white ceramic tile 2005

6" white slip tile with terra cotta slip carving decoration "Our Lady" 2004

6" commercial terra cotta tile "Stanzi" 2004

4" commercial terra cotta tile inspired by a medieval French design "Amour" 2004

6" terra cotta poured carved slip tile with sgraffiato underglaze design "Merangel" 2003

"Frank Lloyd Wright" 4.25" commercial white tile 2005

We create one of a kind custom handpainted ceramic tiles and murals in a variety of different themes and styles.  Each commission is priced on an individual basis according to client specifications.  Please contact us for an estimated quote taylored to your specific needs 708-752-2770 email at .

6" commercial terra cotta mayolica style tile "Dance" 2004

6" commercial terra cotta mexican mayolica style tile "Christ child" 2004

4" commercial terra cotta medieval dutch style tile "Fish Head" 2004


azulejos:  Spanish term for decorated tilework also used by the Portuguese.

alicatados: Muslim geometrically shaped glazed tiles in mosaic panels.

talavera:  traditionally made mayolica produced in Mexico.

mayolica:  one of the earliest and lasting types of glazed and painted ceramics made in Europe and the Americas.  Mayolica is the Spanish term for tin-glazed earthenware.  The term is synonymous with maiolica, majolica, faience (France), delftware (Netherlands), loza, loza fina, and loza blanco (Spain/Mexico).  The origins of the word come either from the production of pottery in the southern Spanish port of Malaga (historically; Malica) or from the pottery distribution of the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca.   For centuries Europeans had been inspired by the delicate blue and white designs of Chinese porcelain.  However, Chinese porcelain was a costly and fragile trade item in Europe.  In the ninth century A.D. potters of the Middle East discovered that by adding tin oxide to the transparent lead glaze and coating it to the surface of their common earthenware (terra cotta) they had created a opaque white ground; a suitable surface to paint detailed blue and white and polychrome designs.  In A.D. 711,  Arabs brought Islam to the Iberian peninsula, along with it; tin and thus the production of mayolica was established in Spain by the 10th century.

6" white and terra cotta slip encaustic tile "Daffodil" 2003

diptych 6" commercial terra cotta tiles "Hark" 2004

etched: clay design is drawn by scraping into the bone dry clay thereby creating furrows in the surface.  Underglazes are then painted upon the surface then the excess is wiped off.
clay body:  the minerals that make up the composition of the clay, some types of clay are;  chinese porcelain, stoneware, terra cotta, and ball clay
slip molded:  clay body is liquified by adding water and mixing so that it can be easily poured into molds to dry.
wedging:  the process of kneading the clay in order to properly mix it but more importantly to remove all air pockets.
slab rolled:  solid clay body is flattened and rolled to a uniform thickness then cut into tile shapes.
greenware: pottery or tiles that have not been fired. 
leather hard:  the drying stage (usually 12-24 hours for tiles) at which point you may still carve easily into the surface (sgraffiato),  at this stage the clay somewhat resembles fine chocolate.
bone dry:  the driest stage that can be reached before the first firing.  You can still carve into the tile, but will create much dust.
underglazes:  are not true glazes but compounds that produce flat colors that do not run. They are usually  fired once to fix to the green or bisque ware, then fired again with a protective clear glaze.
glazes:  vitreous (glass like) compounds that when painted on bisque ware ceramics and fired create a variety of surface textures, and colors.
inlaid/encaustic:  the process in the greenware pre-leather hard stage when designs are scratched into the tile, a different colored slip is then poured onto the entire surface and dried somewhat, then the whole surface is scraped down to reveal a pattern of two clay colors.  These tiles  were prevalent  in medieval England.
slip trailing:  the process in which a tile is decorated with a contrasting color slip in a small bottle that enables one to create lines.
sgraffiato: creating designs in underglazes or overglazes by scratching them off  thereby revealing the clay underneath.
kiln:  pronounced "kill", the specifically designed oven used to fire to brittle hardness  ceramic pottery and tiles.
bisque fire:  the first firing of the ceramic tile which removes all water from the clay body.
glaze fire:  usually the second and last firing to fuse the overglaze permanently to the tile.

for more information call  708-752-2770  email  illustration website 
all content and images contained within this website copyright Mary Flock Lempa 2004