Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Avente Tile

May the holiday season bring you joy and fulfillment, and the warmth of being surrounded by friends and family!

Deer in Moonlight Mural - Rosewood
Deer in Moonlight Ceramic Tile Mural

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thanks to the Tile Heritage Foundation

Editorial Note (Jan. 2, 2012) - After publishing this post, I was thrilled to read this article, Foundation crafts artisan-tile archive, honoring the co-founders of the Tile Heritage Foundation and their commitment to preserving our tile heritage.
Tile Heritage FoundationAs another year draws to a close, I want to shine the spotlight on a great organization that is benevolent and generous, The Tile Heritage Foundation. Since it was founded in 1987, this California-based non-profit has been supporting the preservation, history and appreciation of tile. This organization gives back to the tile community and works to preserve our tile heritage. Avente proudly supports their efforts and thanks the directors, staff and volunteers.

The Preservation of our Tile Heritage

The Tile Heritage Foundation promotes an awareness and appreciation of ceramic surfaces in the United States. The Foundation provides consultation and research, leads preservation efforts and shares information about tile. The Tile Heritage library and research facility has a wealth of knowledge including books and slides about ceramic tile surfaces. They provide historical perspective and depth on all ceramic surfacing materials and educate the public by sharing tile’s rich history. Because of these efforts, the organization now plays a major role in the preservation of rare existing ceramic installations. They promote contemporary tile work as well.

This year the Foundation celebrates their 25th-anniversary. A big drive is to transition their archive to an online searchable resource available to the industry and to the public.

Tile and our Collective History

One of the reasons I started Avente was my love of tile - both in the beauty of the hand painted design and the sense of place and time it conveys. A mosaic brings you back to the Roman Empire. The light hand painted blue and white strokes of a stylistic floral pattern on tile can have you dreaming about a centuries-old street corner in Portugal. It's pretty amazing what tile can convey!

Shortly after I started Avente Tile, I remember Jorge Aguayo, of Aguayo Tile explaining that he had discovered many floors in disrepair while visiting Cuba. His goal was to preserve these amazing tile tapestries of pattern and color found in Cuban tile. If we don’t strive to preserve and record these amazing works of art, we lose so much in the collective history of who we are.

Cuban Tiles found in Old Havana and Camaguey are in disrepair
Cuban Tiles found in Old Havana and Camaguey are in disrepair
Photo Courtesy of Aguayo Tile

I occasionally get calls from friends and customer’s saying they found some amazing tile after removing layers of other surface coverings during a remodel of their early 1900's home. These moments warm my heart. I am reassured that people do want to preserve well-crafted design and they value the history of a very special place. They want to help document, record and preserve the collective history that is ours.

When I can’t identify that tile, where do I send them? The Tile Heritage Foundation, of course.

Tile Identification Services

The Tile Heritage Foundation offers tile identification services to the public at no charge. Pretty darn amazing. Who else offers such a great service for free? I've sent many architects and designers their way. To take advantages of this service, Simply email foundation@tileheritage.org with clear, images of individual tiles or tile installations. Include other relevant information like site, city, state, size, date (approximate), architect/designer if known. If the experts at Tile Heritage are not able to identify the work, your email will be forwarded to others who are likely to know.

I could go on about the great folks at the THF; but, just visit www.tileheritage.org and discover what a great resource they are. Most importantly, if you can, I encourage you to join Avente and support this great organization with a donation.

Thanks and Happy Holiday!

- , Avente Tile

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New! Arabesque Cement Tile Spanish Pavers

New Arabesque Cement Tiles Bring Spanish Flair to Any Décor

Arabesque Spanish Cement Tile

Our newest line of cement tile offers not only a classic, time-tested look, but also the durability and craftsmanship of traditional handmade cement tile. Introducing Arabesque Cement Tile!

The geometrically inclined Arabesque pattern, part of our cement tile collection, pays homage the rich look of classic clay bisque tiles that have been used in Spain, the Mediterranean, and northern Africa for centuries. With Arabesque, you'll also receive the durable, time-tested benefits of cement tile with the added benefit of a broader color palette, and sizes and shapes that can be adapted to any décor and environment.

Further, by using our Arabesque Spanish Cement Tile in your next design project, you'll feel good knowing your choice is also good for the environment. Made in the USA, this collection is made using a high percentage of locally sourced materials, which minimizes transportation impact. Moreover, the cement used for producing these tiles is supplied by an Energy Star Certified factory.

Arabesque Aragon
Arabesque Aragon
Cotto Dark
Arabesque Mudejar Spanish Paver Handmade Cement Tile
Arabesque Mudejar
Cotto Dark

Finally, unlike their bisque counterparts, Arabesque features a Paver Color Palette that includes 30 colors and two blends. The Classic Color Palette (in six shades) takes its cue from clay bisque that would be historically used to make Saltillo tile, brown Spanish pavers, and red clay tiles.

For a contemporary look, you can choose from our extensive collection of 24 colors within the Premium color palette, which includes subtle greys, green, plum, rust and tan. Prices for the Arabesque collection start at $15 per square foot. Your choice of color, size, format, and finish will affect the final cost. There are 8 designs within the collection. Most designs are available in two or three styles allowing you to choose a larger, smaller, or slightly different format. Our online product catalog details the available styles, tile sizes, shapes, formats, color, and price for each design. Remember, each piece is handcrafted, therefore, please expect to receive them within 4 to 6 weeks from the time your order is placed.

Pinterest logo

Pinterest: Inspiring, Trend-Setting, Project Organizer

Avente Tile's Winter Pinterest BoardIn the November issue of Tile Talk News, we touched upon our Pinterest boards and how we make it work for us. In this issue, we'll be sharing some best Pinterest practices that we've incorporated into our daily Pinterest schedule and ever-expanding boards.

We recently attended a Pinterest-focused twitter chat for kitchen and bath industry professionals, @KBTribechat where we left with newly found encouragement to continue to do what we've been doing. The chat featured Beth Hayden @bethjhayden, a nationally known speaker and social media expert, who taught us and dozens of other attendees a couple of new things. Here are some tips that both we and Beth have found that led to successful, profitable pinning:

  • Use descriptive titles, keywords, proper credit for photos, active links to where the image was sourced from.
  • Inspire visitors of your boards to go to your website to purchase what they like.
  • Pin every day, even if it's just a few things. You.ll keep things fresh, and chances are you'll get re-pinned more often.
  • Use the Pinterest Popular tab to see what kind of content people love, and what they are sharing. Beth mentioned that the "Popular" tab is her own trends spotter.
  • When clients are looking for a specific project type, i.e. kitchen, patio, mud rooms. You can send them to our Pinterest boards, or, they can send you to theirs. It's almost as if you're swapping portfolios.
  • Make sure you have your website listed in your Pinterest profile, and that you're posting your own blog posts.
  • Pin things that your audience (client base, customers, friends, etc.) are into, such as travel, architecture, design, nature, and so on.
  • Most importantly, remember your manners. As in all social media platforms, good manners will get you far, while bad manners will leave you stagnant. If someone takes the time to like or repin what you've posted, or has left a comment, make sure to thank them!

Lastly, did you know you could find out what people are pinning from your site? This invaluable piece of information, http://pinterest.com/SOURCE/[yoursitehere.com], can help form or reshape your online strategy.

For instance, take a look at ours: http://pinterest.com/source/aventetile.com/

This isn't a live link, so you'll have to copy and paste it into your browser. And where it says [yoursitehere.com], that's where you'll enter the website address where you want to see who is pinning from it, and which images have been pinned.

We hope this information has been helpful. If you're already on Pinterest, let us know how you use it, and what successes you've had with it. We'd love to hear your suggestions and/or questions, too! Follow our Pinterest boards and let's get pinning together!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Persian Tile: A Form of Art and Religious Expression

Sheikh Lutf Allah Mosque Peacock Dome
Sheikh Lutf Allah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan, Iran.
Image via: www.IslamicArts.org 

The impact of Persian tiles occupies a prominent place in the history of Islamic art. Recognized for having one of the richest and varied art legacies, Persia (now Iran) used this form of art to decorate palaces, public buildings, monuments, mausoleums, and religious buildings, such as mosques and theological schools.

According to the Iran Chamber Society, “The history of Iranian tile dates back to the prehistoric period. It holds an important position among the various decorative arts in Iranian architecture. The four main decorative features can be categorized here as well. They include stone carving, brick work, stucco and tile panels. Using an intricate method of manufacturing, design and the type of materials used in the four methods mentioned above, the methods have evolved as a result of natural factors, economical and political effects.” 

Interior arcade of Sheikh Lutf Allah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran.
Image via  www.IslamicArts.org.

It's because of their expertise in handling raw material, and especially because of their artistry, Persian tile makers found themselves in great demand. Their talents were sought in all corners of the vast Islamic empire. Over the centuries, creative artisans used colored stones and brick to create geometric patterns on structures. The rudimentary patterns then developed into natural subjects, such as plants, animals and humans. These masterful creations grace both the interior and exterior of historic Iranian structures.

A mihrab is a niche set into the middle of the qibla wall of a building in order to indicate the direction of Mecca. (Early 14th century).
Image via Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

The art of tile manufacturing reached its peak of perfection and beauty at the end of the 13th century. Moraq tiles (mosaic style) panels created with this technique were made to withstand the elements of time. “Tiles in such colors as yellow, blue, brown, black, turquoise, green and white were cut and carved into small pieces according to a previously prepared pattern,” says the Iran Chamber Society. Further, “These pieces were placed close together and liquid plaster poured over to fill in all the opening and gaps. After the plaster dried and hardened, a large single piece tile panel had been created, which was then plastered onto the required wall of the building. Timurid monuments in Herat, Samarkend and Bokhara were covered by this decorative technique. Among the most famous monuments decorated in this style are the Goharshad Mosque (1418 CE), the Molana Mosque (1444 CE), the Jameh Mosque of Yazd (1456 CE), the Jameh Mosque of Varamin (1322 CE), and the Madrassa of Khan in Shiraz (1615 CE),” the Society added.

Imam Mosque, Isfahan, Iran.
Imam Mosque, Isfahan. Image via www.IslamicArts.org.

Of the many tile masterpieces found in Iran is the Shah Mosque in Isfahan. The dome of this religious building, which originates from the 17th century, serves as a wonderful example for mosaic tile, as well as cuerda seca tiles. A variety of tile had to be manufactured in order to keep a consistent look throughout its vast halls that were covered in mosaic tile.

Detail of one of many tiled walls of the Jameh Mosque, Yazd, Iran.
Detail of one of many tiled walls of the Jameh Mosque, Yazd, Iran.
Image via www.IslamicArts.org

Also of importance to the tile-making techniques of the Persian empire was the the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736). It was during this time that ornamental mosaic pieces were often replaced using the haft rang (seven colors) technique. Images were first painted onto plain rectangular tiles, glazed, and then fired. Aside from economic reasons, the seven colors method gave artisans freedom with their creativity, as well as more time to stylize their works of art.

The complex of the Friday mosque of Yazd; found in the 12th century.
Situated adjacent to the center of the town of Yazd, the complex of the Friday mosque of Yazd was found in the 12th century. However, what stands on the site today is the new mosque (masjid-i jadid) built in 1324 under the Il Khanids. Image via www.IslamicArts.org.

It's unfortunate that this glorious form of art wasn't extensively documented throughout the ages. The patterns and designs were a closely guarded secret, and therefore, the techniques were only passed down orally from father to son, or from master to student.

Vakil Mosque, Shiraz, Iran.
Vakil Mosque, located in Shiraz, Iran, is a beautiful mosque built in the mid-18th century by Karim Khan.
Image via www.IslamicArts.org.

Sadly, this concludes my exploration of tile through the Middle East. Before I get too old, I would really like to explore the country that I was born in, Turkey, as well as Iran, where my husband was born. The architecture, the history, and knowledge that Islamic nations provided not only to their people, but to far-reaching lands, shouldn't be dismissed.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it. Have you gained a greater appreciation of tile? How would you implement current tile patterns and colors into contemporary or modern designs?