It seems as if we are in a stone moment. Our overwhelming enthusiasm for stone should not eclipse ceramic tile as a fabulous material for backsplashes, fireplaces, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and mudrooms. It is extraordinarily versatile, with unique palettes, easy maintenance  and architecturally as well as structurally interesting. Personally, I think there is nothing more beautiful than a wall of handmade tile. There are nuances of glaze variation, surface irregularities and artistic expression in each tile.

Historically, tile has existed since the time of the Roman Empire and the Babylonians with shards and fragments found in the oldest pyramids. Nearly every culture with the technology, no matter how primitive, and resources has produced ceramic tile. At first, the moist natural materials were dug by hand and the clay slabs dried in the sun. Much later, as technology advanced from a few tiles made by hand each day to gigantic hydraulic presses and roller hearth kilns where tens of thousands of tiles were made in a day. Ceramic tile was a useful material for bathrooms, hospitals and other places where sanitary conditions needed to be maintained.

I have been a supporter and promoter of hand made tile for many years. In small studios and factories, artisans personally select the ingredients, touch and form the wet clay, create the artistic glaze tones and fire at temperatures for the best results;  these artisans create some of the most beautiful wall surfaces imaginable. They create comprehensive  moldings and bases to cover architectural planes. In clay it is easy to create stop ends, frame corners and many other pieces to serve a specific  purpose. In addition to architectural elements, there are liners, both decorative and plain, to create transitions from one size field to another or decorative tiles that take their clues from fine art. Finally, field tiles can be square, rectangular or geometric, smooth or textured.

There are many thousands of decorative tiles in the market, but the best  and most timeless results come from the elegant simplicity of a wall of beautifully glazed hand-made tile, laid carefully by an expert installer with very tight  grout joints and the right color grout.

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