The design is drawn on the tile with a thin raised clay line
I’ve long been a fan of anything beautifully illustrated (probably has something to do with my fascination with the art of Aubrey Beardsley) and I came across DuQuella Tile’s products because Cyra DuQuella is one of my favorite tweeps on Twitter. I asked her to explain the process that goes into creating their colorful and intricately patterned tiles.I felt this a perfect subject because she fell in love with the Art Nouveau/Art Deco aesthetic of these tiles while gallivanting around Europe (England, Belgium and France figured heavily in her sojourn during which she was researching vintage tile). “We craft our tile using the old world method of tubelining,” she explains. “No molds or machines are involved and all decorative work is done by hand. We instantly became mesmerized by the flowing lines when we saw the designs in Europe.” Cyra describes the process as “calligraphy with clay,” adding, “There can be no hesitation, no wandering attention. As the clay line flows, it becomes meditative and fluid.”
The areas created bythe tubelining are then filled in with glaze
It is perhaps the company’s artistic viewpoint that sets them apart. “We have always been artists and we use our experience as potters, designers, and illustrators as we create our tile,” Cyra remarks. “We think and dream pattern, color and texture. We are inspired by old traditions, classic design and nature. We explore, envision and experiment and always view our surroundings with an artist’s eye. Only a few studios worldwide create tile using this process, which requires a high level of skill. It is also very labor intensive and for that reason its popularity as a production method at the turn of the 20th Century was short lived. “It is also very technically difficult,” she explains. “The wet clay line is drawn onto a bisque (once-fired) tile. The tubeline mix must melt enough to become part of the tile but not so much that shape of the clay line is distorted.” As you can see from the photography, the process is delicate and awe-inspiring!
Take a look at one of Beardsley’s illustrations on Design Commotion and you’ll see how the Art Nouveau and Art Deco aesthetic had (and still has) such a unique and dynamic presence in terms of design. Thanks to Cyra for sharing with us the remarkable journey a tubelined tile goes through before it becomes the thing of beauty it is. There’s another great post about their tile on Paul Anater’s blog (he always beats me to the best stories but I forgive him)! To vote on a favorite DuQuella Tile, visit this post on my Tumblr page.