After making tiles by hand for twenty years at his Terracroft studio in Berkeley, Stuart Compton decided to take a break; he ended his production effective October 2007. There are many who hope that this will be only a brief hiatus.
While growing up in Las Vegas, Stuart unwittingly purchased three Batchelder tiles at a local yard sale when he was 10 years old, initiating his fascination with ceramics. Although like many children he enjoyed creating objects in clay, his initial education in ceramics occurred in high school in Newport Beach. Enlightened by the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, he began his business, Terracroft, in 1987 and through the years each and every one of his tiles was made entirely by hand. His object was to make each tile a piece of art.
Compton’s earliest tile work consisted of handmade tile “pictures” of the Southwest during the turn of the last century. Each tile was hand-painted with colored clay slip, sprayed over with a satin finish glaze and then raku-fired, which involved removing the tile from a hot kiln, placing it into a sand pit on top of sawdust, and then covering it tightly to enhance reduction. The hot tile would set the dust to burning and smoking, forcing carbon from the smoke into the tile. The result was a blackened, aged look, characteristic of raku.
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