Monday, September 15, 2014

Interlocking Circles: The Power and History of Pattern in Design


For thousands of years, geometric shapes and symbols have decorated homes, structures, religious buildings and art work. Influenced by nature (such as the perfect hexagon of a honeycomb made by bees), geometry has, in essence, shaped our world.

Interlocking circle patterns graces the floor tiles of this corridor.
Interlocking circle patterns grace the floor tiles of this establishment's corridor. 

Seemingly, the most prolific use of geometry and shapes is the Islamic culture. Because followers of Islam were not allowed to use human forms in art or other creative channels, geometric shapes came to represent their view of the world around them.


A closer look at the interlocking circle pattern.

According to Math Munch, a website dedicated to mathematics, "Humans have been in awe of the symmetrical laws that seem to govern the universe for thousands of years, and they've developed a type of artwork called Sacred Geometry, a way of thinking that gives spiritual significance to geometric shapes. Sacred geometry can be found in religious artwork from many different cultures, and often uses tilings of regular polygons, the Platonic solids, and interlocking circles arranged in symmetric patterns."

Example of Islamic geometry in mosaic tile art form
Example of Islamic geometry in mosaic tile art form. Image via Math Munch.

In the case of our Geo 10 cement tile design, we have four overlapping/interlocking circles. According to John Lockerbie of catnaps.org, "It is a common pattern in Arabic and Islamic geometrical design work. The sinuous lines have equal weight and the spaces contained by the lines are equal in their visual weight, though alternate shapes appear set at right angles in a regular pattern."



Avente Tile's Geo 10 cement tile pattern features interlocking circles.
Avente Tile's Geo 10 cement tile pattern features interlocking circles.

Interestingly, circles and curves seem to dominate Islamic arts and culture, from calligraphy to cursive writing to interlocking circles. With the interlocking circle pattern, the Flower of Life holds the most meaning as it depicts the basic molecular beginning of life. According to Andrew Monkman's post Sacred Geometry - Flower of Life, "The most common form of the 'Flower of Life' is a hexagonal pattern (where the center of each circle is on the circumference of six surrounding circles of the same diameter), made up of 19 complete circles and 36 partial circular arcs, enclosed by a large circle.

The Flower of Life pattern contains a vast Akashic system of information.
"Indelibly etched on the walls of temple of the Osirion at Abydos, Egypt, the Flower of Life contains a vast Akashic system of information, including templates for the five Platonic Solids." Image via Sacred Geometry.

A slightly modified version of this pattern can be found in our Geometric Moroccan Circle pattern:



Avente Tile's Geometric Moroccan Circle tile pattern,

Taking the interlocking circle element even further is Avente's Geo 35 pattern with its more modern version of an ancient pattern.

Avente Tile's Geo 35 cement tile pattern.
Avente Tile's Geo 35 cement tile pattern.

As you can see, Avente's Geometric line, or Geo Cement Tiles, pay distinct homage to the time-tested and centuries-old interlocking circle patterns found throughout all Islamic art forms.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Glazed Bricks Provide Versatility for Classic to Contemporary Design

Our newest line of tile takes its cue from simplicity and ease. If you like the classic look of subway tile, then you're to love the look of our Glazed Brick series. This versatile line is great for backsplashes and walls for both residential and commercial applications.


Avente Tile's Glazed Thin Brick comes in six colors.
Avente Tile's Glazed Thin Brick comes in six colors.

Pick a Color or Use Them All!
Our glazed think brick is available in six colors: cinnamon, mustard, pewter, storm, white, and washed. Use a single color or use both whites for a tranquil, contemporary design. However, because I love color, I think the tiles are most captivating when an array of colors is used to create a mosaic.

Mustard
Cinnamon
Pewter

Storm
White
Washed
Our Glazed Brick is in stock and ready to ship. It is frost-resistant; but, not frost proof. As with all of our hand-glazed items, natural variation is inherent in color, texture and finish. Approximate dimensions are: 2-1/4" x 9-1/4" x 3/4"-thick.

Horizontal Glazed Brick Layouts
Classic and timeless, horizontal layouts honor the love of subway tiles. Keep it simple with a basic offset, or add interest with a quarter offset layout. The stacked pattern offers clean lines, which works well with contemporary designs.

Offset Tile Layout for Glazed Thin Brick
Offset
1/4 Offset Tile Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
1/4 Offset
Straight Set Tile Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
Straight Set

Vertical Glazed Brick Layouts
Newer and bolder, the upward orientation of vertical layouts provide the illusion of height or can be used to create striped designs with two or more colors. Staggered or off-set vertical arrangements lead the eye upward and can make a short galley kitchen with low ceilings appear larger and slightly more expansive.

1/4 Vertical Offset Tile Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
1/4 Vertical Offset
Vertical Offset Tile Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
Vertical Offset
Vertical Straight Set Tile Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
Vertical Straight Set
Herringbone Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
Handsome and sophisticated, the woven look of a herringbone pattern offers texture and distinctive style. It's a great look for a bathroom wall or kitchen backsplash.

Herringbone Tile Layout for Thin Glazed Brick
Herringbone

Our new line of thin Glazed Bricks in six colors is a great way to achieve the cherished look of subway tile. But, the natural variation of color from hand-glazing, combined with the texture from the brick, will add interest and a new twist to your design. See our new line of thin Glazed Bricks today!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cement Tile Rug Creates a Welcoming, Warm Patio


A centered rug pattern with border in a warm palette welcomes guests.
A centered rug pattern with border in a warm palette welcomes guests.

The stunning pattern of our Traditional Alcala cement tile series, in a custom colorway, creates a spectacular entry for this Southern California home. The owners wanted to showcase the front porch of their home with a dramatic cement tile pattern and border using warm colors and earth tones that were not only complementary to their own home, but also to their historic neighborhood.

The border, which effortlessly frames the 8"x8" Traditional Alcala cement tile pattern rather nicely, can be used to accentuate a room or hallway. This particular installation shows how the traditional method of using cement tiles can create a focal point in any area.

The colors used in this pattern are:


Suede


Blonde Wood


Indian Red


Brown

You can use these colors, or get creative by designing your own color scheme. Choose from any of the 80+ Heritage Cement Tile colors we offer.

Tips for Creating a Cement Tile Rug

Handcrafted cement tiles are capable of grabbing the attention of anyone who enters your home from the moment the front door is opened. The key to creating a long-lasting, successful cement tile rug is planning, and a good sketch or drawing done to scale showing the placement of the tiles. Read more about How to Create a Cement Tile Rug Design.

Handmade cement tile will not wear ragged over time - it only gets better! With a range of design possibilities, whether bold Cuban tile patterns in contrasting colors or classic cement patterns in harmonizing colors, handmade cement tiles will transform any space! See our new Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to get started today!


Pinterest logo

Seasonal Harvests

Wine Cellars
Wine / Vineyards
"Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing." - Ernest Hemingway

Now that summer is nearly over, it.'s almost time for harvesting the grapes that will, in good time, make it to your table to enjoy with a weekly meal, or to enjoy with friends and guests during the weekend. It takes years for a wine to truly develop into something to be savored, and yes, even admired.

The same could be said for our handmade cement tiles. Just like a fine wine, they too initially need time and care to develop into a long-lasting product - all before it arrives at your front door, ready to be installed.

Cheers, and enjoy the last weeks of summer!



Capture Summer Sun & Savings with our Valencia tile

Hand Painted Spanish Tile Listello


Capture the warm, golden sun and clear blue skies of summer with tile inspired from classic Spanish patterns. Our hand-painted, glazed ceramic Valencia Spanish tile makes a great kitchen listello or backsplash. It's also stunning when used for decorative stair risers.
Hand Painted Spanish Tile - Valencia PatternOur Spanish Valencia 6"x6" Ceramic Tile is part of our extensive Spanish Ceramic tile collection. With its historical Spanish pattern and colors, Valencia is created using traditional Majolica glazing techniques. The patterns, which are hand-brushed by the tile artist, are a perfect complement to outdoor living areas too, such as pools and fountains.

Turn the ordinary into extraordinary by using Spanish ceramic tile for your walls and backsplashes. To sweeten the deal, we're offering 10% off any Valencia 6"x6" purchase made during September. Discount applies only to stock on hand. You must place your order over the phone and mention the "SUMMER" coupon code at the time of purchase.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cement Tile Quality Expectations in Custom Design


To help gain perspective and set realistic expectations of handmade tile, I often say artisan tiles are like the strokes of an Impressionist painting or hand woven rug. When you closely look at the stroke or weave, you will see color variation and the design motif itself may not be perceptible or clear. Step back though and the blended imperfection of the artist's hand creates a stunning work of art.

Sunset in Venice by Claude Monet
Image Credit
Our modern-day world has created an affinity for perfection. We are so used to seeing everything crafted to such tight tolerances that glossy productions are de reguer. One of the most common questions I hear when people receive their first sample or order is that the "The cement tile is not perfect" in some way.

Handmade Cement Tile will have slight imperfections
Handmade Cement Tile will have slight imperfections.
We want our installation to look like that bistro in Paris or Hacienda in the Yucatan. The truth is that the imperfections are there; but, the beauty of the pattern and variation in color allow your eye to see the same thing you see when you look at a Monet or Seurat.

The beauty of cement tile is in the variation and slight imperfections
The beauty of cement tile is in the variation and slight imperfections.

I do enjoy sharing this journey of discovery with folks unfamiliar with cement tile, or encaustic cement tiles as they are often called. I've been working with a customer in Denver on a design. She discovered our Cuban Heritage Design CH110-2B pattern and while she liked the colorway, it just wasn't right for her. I explained that the colors for that pattern are easily changed using any color from the Heritage Color Palette. However, this process takes time  we are talking design here. The best place to start is with color chips so you can create a cohesive design and really see the colors. A few weeks after receiving her chips, she had found the right colors and had us create several renderings to see what worked best.


A sample of one rendering that Avente provided using the customer's color choices
A sample of one rendering that Avente provided using the customer's color choices.

Color substitution are never easy; but, I was impressed with the colors she selected and loved the different choices. This design-inspired Denver homeowner found the renderings the ideal way to find what worked best and ordered strike-offs or sample tiles of the rendering that she like best.

This is a story, of how a project should go! And, I felt thrilled that each step of the process helped quickly guide the homeowner to make a decision they loved. Three weeks after the samples arrived, I received this email:
Hi Bill,

We received our strike-off samples. As expected we love the design and are so pleased with the color combination! Given the tiles are handmade, we did expect some slight variation from tile to tile 
 minor blemishes or color bleeding, lines not matching up perfectly.
Photo of customer's strike-off with slight color variation and line widths.
However, can you comment regarding this particular tile (see below)? Is it representative of the typical quality we should expect? We are concerned.

Pattern lines on tiles should be crisp.

I can see why she was concerned. In my efforts to set reasonable expectations for a hand made tile, I had neglected to explain that strike-offs samples may not always have the most crisp pattern lines because it takes time to get the metal mold to settle and work with the frame.

Here's my reply:
Dear Denver,

I think your expectations for cement tile are correct – which means I've done my job. The variation in color and slight imperfections you find in the first set of images are to be expected. The blurred pattern and edges in the second set of images (with red circles) should not be expected in the full order.

The primary goal with strike-offs is to confirm color acceptance for the pattern. The problems you see in the second set of images occur in strike-offs because we can’t make enough tiles and fine-tune the process that allows the mold to settle.


I hope you have enjoyed understanding how the hand of the artist creates a unique look in cement tile and the importance of quality in custom design. Never stop asking questions because they provide the clarity to ensure you are buying a top-notch product. If you enjoyed today's post on custom cement tile design and what makes a high quality tile, you might also enjoy our Avente Tile’s Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to learn more about this amazing product.

Download: Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

Of course, all of us at Avente Tile are here to help you with your cement tile questions, design solutions or technical questions. Feel free to post a question here and don’t hesitate to call us at 888.739.4972; or email: info@aventetile.com.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Handmade Cement Tile: Defining Quality


Handmade Alcala Cement Tile on a bathroom wall.
Handmade Alcala Cement Tile on a bathroom wall.

In my last post, I introduced Avente Tile’s newly published Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile. This 14-page downloadable Guide features information, examples of cement tile installations, FAQs, and more. To understand the nuances of cement tile, let’s look at what cement tile is, and how it differs from ceramic or porcelain tile.

Handmade cement tile in geometric shapes elegantly define a clubhouse restaurant's floor.
Handmade cement tile in geometric shapes elegantly define a clubhouse restaurant's floor.
What is Handmade Cement Tile?
Created using a hydraulic press, cement tiles, also known as encaustic tiles, were first created in the mid-19th century in Europe. They were originally used only in prestigious buildings and high-end homes, but by the turn of the century, cement tiles could be found in homes all over the country.

Unfortunately, around the 1960s and 70s, cement tiles fell out of favor. Thankfully, the need for using “green” sustainable building products has created a renewed interest in cement tile. The wide array of available colors, custom patterns, and the matte finish of the tiles makes them a fresh, yet practical choice for those desiring something unique, sustainable and timeless.

Cement Tiles are:
• Durable
• Long-Lasting
• Sustainable
• Recyclable
• Handmade
• Extensive Color, Design Options

Manufacturing Process
Cement tiles are handmade using a traditional, centuries-old, manufacturing process requiring several steps, unlike ceramic tiles that are kiln-fired. You can see the extensive process of creating individual handmade cement tiles on the blog post, Aguayo Cement Tile Factory Tour.

Color mixtures are hand-poured into molds and grids in which the designs of the cement tile are formed.
Color mixtures are hand-poured into molds and grids in which the designs of the cement tile are formed.

First, the color layer is prepared using a mixture of marble powder, white cement and other minerals. The color mixture is hand-poured into molds and grids in which the designs of the tile are formed. Next, a layer of cement is sprinkled on top, thus providing a bond between the color layer and the body of the tile. A layer of cement and sand then creates the tile body. Each cement tile is then hydraulically pressed into shape to increase density and then cured underwater for up to 28 days to create extra hardness. They are then dried and set to age, which allows the tile to harden even more before shipping.

Handmade cement tiles are dried and set to age on racks, allowing them to harden prior to shipping.
Handmade cement tiles are dried and set to age on racks, allowing them to harden prior to shipping.

Because of the steps needed to create a high-quality cement tile, the cost per tile can range from $12 to $25 per square foot. It can take eight to 10 weeks for your tile to be made. If you choose a customized color, the length of time for delivery, as well as cost, will increase.

Remember, cement tiles are handmade, one tile at a time, making each tile unique and different.- you’ll see the hand of the artisan tile-maker in each cement tile.


Download: Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

Next time, I’ll be talking about the various sizes, shapes and formats available with cement tiles. In the meantime, you can download Avente Tile’s Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to get a head-start on an upcoming project, or just to be inspired!

Of course, everyone at Avente Tile is well-versed and experienced in answering any possible question you may have. Therefore, please don’t hesitate to call them at 888.739.4972; or email: info@aventetile.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Decorative Tile in Commercial Design


While I prefer the quiet residential neighborhoods for my morning walks in Los Angeles, crossing commercial swaths and busy streets can't be avoided in California's most populous city of 3.8 million people. Surprisingly, I've discovered some stunning uses of decorative tile in commercial design on the storefronts and facades of many buildings that pay homage to this state's romance with tile during the early 1900s.

Decorative tile adorn this commercial building on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills
Decorative tile adorn this building on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills
An up-close look at the pattern details of a commercial tile facade.
An up-close look at the pattern details of the tile facade.

You may remember last month's post, A Book Recommendation for California Tile where I review California Tile: The Golden Era 1910-1940: Hispano-Moresque to Woolenius. An example of California's love for tile, specifically for commercial or business use, can be found on page 172 of the publication with this vintage advertisement for Glendale, CA-based Tropico Tiles by Tropico Potteries.

Tropico Tiles Ad showing the influence of Decorative Tiles in Commercial Design
Tropico Potteries advertisement from The Building Review, June 1922.
Courtesy of the Tile Heritage Foundation Library.

Further illustrating the expansive use of richly patterned tile, or faience tiles as they were commonly referred to about a century ago, can be found along quaint storefronts along South La Brea Avenue, where each business boasts its own unique decorative tile design.

Spanish and Moorish designs influence the border patterns.
Spanish and Moorish designs influence the border patterns along this storefront.

The strong Spanish and Moorish influences are seen in the border pattern motifs and use of terracotta colors in the main field.

This original commercial tile installation can be found on S. La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles, CA
This original commercial tile installation can be found on S. La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles.

A true testament to the durability of tile is not just time; but, their ability to withstand harsh urban environments, as well as repeated abrasive cleaning of graffiti in this urban locale.

Tiles stand the test of time and graffiti in L.A.'s urban locale.
Tiles stand the test of time and graffiti in L.A.'s urban locale.
The use of bright orange, yellow, black, turquoise and aqua colors are tell-tale signs of the optimistic color palette commonly used in the early 1900s.

Bright colors on the tiles date the tiles to the early 1900s
The bright colors date the tiles to the early 1900s.
You can see how classic tile patterns and design are always being re-interpreted with updated colors, such as the bright yellow and turquoise, mixed with new designs, such as the triangular accent strip.

The designs you've seen thus far were all found on storefronts – below the window panes, down to the sidewalk. They are reminiscent of a slower time when folks walked the boulevard for their needs. Unfortunately, these commercial installations are nearly invisible now as we zoom past storefronts in our cars, making sure to meet deadlines imposed by a harried schedule.

Lastly, I want to share a rather unique installation that perfectly illustrates how a classic pattern and color palette can remain nearly unchanged from a pattern still available today.

Tiles create interest in this unusual commercial application.
Tiles create interest in this unusual commercial application.

In the image above, you'll notice that the tiles create a cascade-like effect below the Spanish Baroque architectural details of this structure. The tile design flows up from below the ground level to just below the second level. The tile pattern, which has the look of water, effortlessly draws attention to the details.

Tile ribbons cascade from the Spanish Baroque window details.
Tile ribbons cascade from the the Spanish Baroque window details down to the ground where solid-colored field tiles are placed.

Tile ribbons cascading from the Spanish Baroque window details emulate a trickling stream.
Tile ribbons start and end with a classic Spanish tile pattern.
Upon closer look, you can see that the tile ribbons start and end with a classic Spanish tile pattern.

Decorative Tiles in this historic installation match a pattern Avente sells today.
The decorative tiles used in this historic installation match a pattern Avente Tile sells today. How's that for timelessness?

The hand-painted tile that you see in this design looks very similar to our Barcelona Design Quarter San Jose tile.
Avente Barcelona's San Jose Tile Design Quarter

There's something to be said for classic tile patterns and colors – even in commercial design. Do you agree? For Spanish Tile Design inspiration, see our extensive collection of Hand Painted Spanish Tile Design Ideas.