Architectural Ceramics may be regarded as a blend of function and aesthetics. Functional tiles serve primarily as an integral part of a building, whereas tiles that exist for aesthetic value alone can be said to be art.
In the following survey of architectural ceramics in America, Studio Potter has chosen to emphasize ceramics designed for function. We will show clay tiles that serve as an integral component of architecture rather than tiles seen primarily for their aesthetic value-the clay wall rather than the clay picture. (It is possible, of course, for a clay picture to have a functional role in a wall or for a clay wall to have an aesthetic value, but while a clay wall can always have an aesthetic value, it does not always follow that a clay picture has a functional purpose.)
The examples of architectural ceramics included in this survey are divided into three categories: architectural tiles, architectural specialties, and architectural objects. Architectural tiles include those made for floors, walls, fireplaces, and doors located in living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens in private residences and in public places. Architectural specialties include mosaics, encaustic tiles, photomurals, and bricks. Architectural objects include outdoor gardens, playgrounds, founts, and shrines.
This survey is a sample only of the rich variety of architectural ceramics from which to draw examples, and is not meant to be a definitive statement on the subject. Furthermore, we limit the survey to architectural ceramics in America and have not included significant examples existing in other countries and cultures. Our purpose is to explore the vision of new work and reveal possibilities open to potters and artists through architecture--that mother of us all--and to lift the eyes toward splendors perhaps unnoticed in regions above.
Blue Slide Art Tile
Blue Slide Art Tile takes its name from our original studio on Blue Slide Road. We began our tile-making venture on a forty-acre homestead, half an hour's drive to the nearest town, post office, and telephone. There was no electricity, and propane gas was trucked in over the creeks. Nevertheless, we decided to start our own business and bought a slab roller.
At first it was difficult, to say the least, to market our architectural ceramics and production tiles. But our overhead was low, and lack of deadline pressures gave us time to formulate glazes, design molds, and generally get the feel for tiles and constructed pieces.
In those good old days (1982-1983), we would make the big trip to San Francisco to try and sell our tiles. Even though our presentation lacked a certain polish and refinement, the tiles appeared to fill a need in the market, and we got in with a few sales representatives....