Tile Heritage-ENEWS

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Here’s What’s Below:

Up Close and Personal

Clay in the Classroom

Festival, Feasts, Friends and Factory Tours

Tile Artisans Tour Terra Cotta Factory

New Book: Hopi & Pueblo Tiles

An Exhibition of Frank Giorgini’s Work

Up Close and Personal

Several people have asked to see a close-up of the tile that was given to Sheila Menzies and Joe Taylor by the Tile Council of North America at Coverings in April, the “Tile Persons of the Year” award. The tile was designed and produced in duplicate at Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Little did the prospective recipients know when they received an innocent email earlier in the year from Karim Motawi that he had mischief up his sleeve. He said he was doing “research” on terra cotta in Chicago—right!

Clay in the Classroom

The Tile Heritage Foundation is creating a link to resources for teachers who are already involved with clay in the classroom and for those who wish to bring a clay program to their classroom. This includes teachers of ‘kids’ of all ages: preschool, K-12, college and adult education.

Over the years many teachers have shared their expertise with Tile Heritage through workshops and published resources. We would like to expand upon that by making it possible for teachers to link to each other and to be able to further share resources, information, workshops and ideas. You are invited to participate in this important new resource! If you have information to share or a pertinent website, please provide the Tile Heritage Foundation with your email address and a short synopsis of the information and type of resources you are willing to share. We will publish a link to you under the new Clay in the Classroom icon at the THF website homepage. We expect to activate the icon in the next few weeks.

Festival, Feasts, Friends and Factory Tours

Flying in to New York’s La Guardia Airport on May 15th was a step back in time, if you haven’t done it in a while - don’t. The heat was insufferable; chaos was deafening! Recovering, we first headed to North Brunswick, New Jersey and had a fun two nights with tile maker (and chef extraordinaire) Abby Hoffman and her partner Robin Rosen. They have an old mill house restoration under way with lots of reasons to make more tiles!

From there we headed east, stopping in Brick, New Jersey to feast (literally) on the Jersey Shore with Doris and John Sekora of Artisan Tile. They are wonderful hosts and the spring weather was perfect. No tile story went unturned, no morsel of food left uneaten.

Friday found us in Doylestown, hosted by Katia McGuirk, tile maker and mosaic artist. A pre-festival get together on her porch with local and out of town artisans set the mood for the weekend. Fine weather prevailed; it only rained during the night! The 2-day tile fest at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, May 19-20, was a great success. THF is a guest of the Tile Works and we receive and sell tiles donated from tile makers around the country specifically for this sale. Special thanks to all who sent us tiles (see THF-Supporters.html) and to Vance Koehler, curator at MPTW, who practically single-handedly runs this marvelous event each year.

The Tile Festival is an important fundraiser for THF. A most enjoyable time was shared with over 1600 people who came to buy tiles. We were especially happy to count among the tile makers present a joyful group of friends from the Detroit area. The Pewabic legacy lives on!

On Monday, we ‘packed our trunk’ and headed north, winding our way up the Hudson River to north central Massachusetts. Our goal was a visit to Once Upon a Tile – the fabulous tile store belonging to Jean & Joel Kaddy located in the town of Fitchburg. Jean and her staff manage the store; Joel is a well-known tile designer and contractor. It was a surprise visit, but they generously toured us through every nook and cranny of the store, sharing with us a bounty of art tile from artisans around the country. People drive from as far away as Boston and New York to take advantage of the quality and diversity of products offered.

From Fitchburg we headed north and east to Epping, New Hampshire. Our focus was to visit Symmetry Tile Works, an emerging art tile company. We had met the founding artist Robert Rossel at the Coverings expo in Chicago in April. He is assisted by his wife Kerstin. The couple has worked with thousands of school-age children creating public art installations for many years, and now they have made a shift and launched into tile production for the national marketplace. We had a great visit at their farm/barn studio and enjoyed hearing about the future plans for their growing company. For more about Symmetry Tile Works, click on the THF Tile of the Month on our home page: THF Tile of the Month.

From Epping we headed west in New Hampshire to Keene, home of Trikeenan Tileworks. We’ve wanted to visit for many years; the company started in 1989. Kristin and Stephen Powers are the owners, energy and creativity that forms and fires the art tiles they produce, assisted by a great team of roughly 30 people.

We loved the factory setting - an old brick textile mill on the river with a covered bridge in the background. Our tour was great fun and most informative and we enjoyed meeting everyone involved in each aspect of production. Trikeenan has always been committed to great design and sustainable processes with great consideration for the environment and involvement in the local community. Kristin, Stephen and Trikeenan have been long time members and supporters of the Tile Heritage Foundation, and we would like to thank them too for their recent commitment as a THF Publishing Sponsor. For more about Trikeenan visit: www.trikeenan.com.

Leaving Keene we set off through the picturesque mountains of southern Vermont and into New York State. Our oasis this time was Freehold, NY in the Catskills, the home of Ruby’s Hotel, the Broderick Fine Art Gallery, Frank Giorgini’s Udu Drum (and tile making) studio and Frank & Ana’s home on the river. Ruby’s was closed that evening with chef Ana teaching in New York so, hosted by Frank, we fittingly dined on ‘raku’ burgers, a wonderful salad and copious cocktails – another skill he has mastered!

We had a delightful studio tour, and a stick-throwing trip to the river with Charlie, the ‘pittador.’ A visit to the current exhibition, “Stoned, Burnt & Fried: Stoneware, Raku and Electric” at the Broderick Fine Art Gallery located above Ruby’s restaurant, was also on the agenda - some great fun clay! Ana joined us for breakfast the next morning on the front porch and our all too short visit came to an end. We said au revoir and headed south on the Thruway towards New York City stopping along the way to have lunch with an old friend and painter, Sara Salant Traugot. La Guardia was back on our radar and we climbed aboard our flight to Los Angeles on Saturday morning. We were returning via the Southland in order to attend the memorial for Manny Fleishman, CTC, who had passed away on April 16, 2007 at the age of 97. A giant, guiding force and innovator in the tile industry for over 75 years as well as a cofounder with his wife Phyllis of Play Mountain Place School, Los Angeles, in 1948. The memorial was held at the school and his lifetime of achievement celebrated by all who attended.

Finding ourselves in close proximity to so many tile friends, we took the opportunity to visit with architectural historian Robert Winter in Pasadena and spend a wonderful Memorial Day afternoon in South Pasadena at an authentic, Greek-syle goat barbeque with our friends and tile colleagues, Kathy and Thano Adamson of Mission Tile West, their family and friends – brilliant! With the tour of their restored and enhanced period home we saw more tiles than one could imagine! Find them in the THF Member Tile Gallery or visit: www.missiontilewest.com.

Long Beach, our next stop, is not only a haven for longshoremen—it’s Tile Central! First on the list was a factory tour of THF member Ken Mason Tile. (KMT/BCIA) . Our host, Glen Paul, spent well over an hour introducing the company’s dedicated staff, the production processes, and an astonishing array of diverse ceramic material—a wonderland of tiles. The company is also innovative in processing factory waste, recycling it back into production for a ‘green’ and sustainable end product. For more about the company: www.kenmasontile.com.

Our next stop was at the new Malibu Ceramic Works factory in Long Beach. Bob Harris, who with his son Mathew own and operate MCW, is like “a kid in a candy store.” The two have been able to expand their production in this space as well as save from extinction one of the oldest, continuously-running tile operations in California, Handcraft Tile, which they acquired a few months ago. Their hearts are in the right place with the preservation of tile design in its historic context. See www.malibuceramicworks.com.

Their factory space is taking shape. Bob and Mathew continue to embrace a sustainable environment for tile production. 100% of their water and clay waste is innovatively recycled and their tiles are LEED certified. In addition, the factory site will also have an educational component. In cooperation with the City of Long Beach, there will be classrooms and clay facilities for participating students and teachers.

Before heading to LAX we had two more important stops to make. In Torrance we stopped by Native Tile, Diana Watson’s wonderful tile studio—a place we have wanted to visit for years. The studio is a small house with a big backyard in the midst of an industrial area. Every inch of space is in use from design to firing with a little yard plot left over for a thriving vegetable garden and a few good sun spots for the cats! It is the most compact production facility we have seen. Lovely cuenca and cuerda seca tiles, historic reproductions, Malibu-style magic carpets, murals and colorful contemporary tiles, all with the distinctive touch of Diana’s hand. It was a pleasure for us to see it all first hand, embrace Diana, and meet her creative team. See www.nativetile.com.

Our final stop was at Wizard Enterprise in Hawthorne where we were hosted by Susi Meagher and invited to tour the factory. When you enter the building from the street there is this low profile, fifty’s retro façade that makes you feel like you will be entering a moderate, maybe even intimate-sized, factory. What a surprise greets you when you leave the reception area and pass into the factory through swinging doors.

It appears to be about the size of a city block, all under roof, with a lofty ceiling and a kiln room to die for. One kiln in particular is simply immense; we learned that the factory had produced sanitary ware in an earlier life, hence the huge, dragon-firing kiln! Wizard’s handmade tile production is as prodigious as its space. Beautiful, crisply designed tiles, hundreds of colors and glaze styles, beautiful murals, innovative and sparkling new concepts, and space to maintain stock of thousands of tiles. 100% of their wastewater is recycled; clay and glaze residue is also circulated back into production. Check out www.wizardenterprise.com. We were enchanted to be in “Wizard-land,” and our tour was all too short—at the end of what had been for us a two-week tile marathon from coast to coast.

We flew home happy and honored that so many artisans opened their studios and factories to us in our travels. Tile Heritage members and sponsors like those we visited form the backbone of the organization. Our thanks to them and to all of our sponsors, members and grant makers nationwide. Your continued generous support is vital to the mission of the Foundation.

Tile Artisans Tour Terra Cotta Factory

On May 24 several members of the Northern California Tile Artisans (NCTA) took a field trip to tour the Gladding, McBean factory in Lincoln, northeast of Sacramento. A pleasant surprise was the discovery that the architectural terra cotta division of the factory is doing a booming business now and is busier than it has been in decades. Almost all of the work involves replicating damaged terra cotta elements for replacement as part of building restoration projects all over the country. The NCTA group viewed the annual “Feats of Clay” exhibition of ceramic art, which is mounted every May at the Gladding, McBean factory. Afterwards the group paid a visit to special exhibitions of ceramic art being held in three galleries in Davis. A trip to Donna Billick's “Tree of Life” mural* on the University of California, Davis, campus rounded out the day. *See “E-News” April 2007.

New Book: Hopi & Pueblo Tiles

By Kim Messier and Pat Messier
88 pages, 8x8, soft cover, with 91 color and b/w photos: $14.95

The Hopi people of northern Arizona and their Pueblo relatives in New Mexico are famous for their fine pottery jars, bowls, and figures. But they also have a less well-known tradition: the making of unique, handcrafted clay tiles, beginning with ancient altarpieces and progressing to one-of-a-kind contemporary art tiles prized by collectors. Recently a few Navajo potters have also started to experiment with this special form—an attractive, affordable, and highly collectible Native American art. Profusely illustrated, with a Foreword by the noted anthropologist and artist Barton Wright, Hopi & Pueblo Tiles: An Illustrated History is the first full-length study of these charming “flat pots.”

Kim Messier and Pat Messier are a daughter and mother team who have researched, worked with and collected Native American arts and crafts for many years. Author-signed copies of the book are available from them for $20 ($14.95 for the book and $5.05 for Priority Mail). Send a check or money order to Pat and Kim Messier, 625 N. Van Buren Ave., #305, Tucson, AZ 85711 or email with questions: HopiTiles@cox.net. Be sure to specify if you would like the authors to personalize their message.

Please note in Calendar: “Clay2: Southwestern Indian Pottery Tiles,” an exhibition at Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, runs through October 14th. The Messiers are guest curators. For more information call 520 621-6302 or visit www.statemuseum.arizona.edu.

               "Playing With Clay: Frank Giorgini's Udu Drums”

The Albany Institute of History and Art, 125 Washington Ave., Albany, New York is showcasing the work of ceramist Frank Giorgini, who has helped revive a traditional Nigerian clay drum. In addition to his Udu drums and tiles, the exhibition includes a selection of Giorgini’s sculptural works, also molded from clay. The exhibition continues through August 12, 2007. For more information email information@albanyinstitute.org or visit www.albanyinstitute.org.

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