Last year our friends Clive and Peter commissioned some tiles for their hearth to be made for them by their friend Meri Wells.  Meri’s tin-glazed tiles were in the Delft tradition but with a Welsh feel, many featuring characters and scenes from around Ty Isaf where they live. No one who visits their house can fail to stop for ages in front of the hearth to read the tiles, spot the references; familiar birds, garden scenes and house-scapes.  I fell in love with them.

Then, in November, Dave and I went to see the exhibition Wunderkabinett by the illustrator and print maker Paul Bommer’s whose prints I really enjoy for being so witty, skillful and sure. As well as a room and hall full of prints, on the mantle shelf of the fire place (the exhibition was in the ground floor of a beautiful Georgian house on Flores Street) were a series of faux-Delft tiles that Paul had made.

They are delightful and all, unsurprisingly, sold but more can be seen here.

Not long after that I read, via Paul,  about Simon Pettet’s tiles at Dennis Severs’ house in Spitalfield’s Life – the tiles are very Delft like and feature characters and events from every day Spitalfields. The article is well worth a read.

So, just before Christmas and at a loose end, I was looking around the studio to tidy it up and saw my stack of 12 cm MDF squares which I’d cut in order to make a long series of small paintings and knew what I was going to be doing with them instead.

The MDF was primed and painted in off white paint, then the image drawn and then painted with ink. When that was dry crackle glaze was painted on top.  The images are all of objects that were nearby in  my studio, I think they’d make for a strange hearth in a child’s nursery.

  These are the ‘test run’.

Doll’s Head tile

Ted Head tile

P is for Pelvis tile

Dental Cast tile

Child’s Shoe tile


4 thoughts on “tiles

  1. I will! I will! Gissasec!
    Philippa, they are so wonderful!
    I think your crackle worked much better than mine did. I rubbed very fine ash into the cracks on mine and then re-varnished – hence the very un-Delft yellowy-cream colour!
    Yes, real tiles, must get on with that!

    • Thanks, Paul! And thanks for sharing the method with me, it was the catalyst that made a few ideas fizz.
      I prefer the finish on your tiles and those of Simon Pettet for having a courser, better defined pattern of crackling. (Fine ash you say? …) I’ll experiment with a different crackle glaze and sound out the local art centre to see if their ceramics workshop would accommodate my tile making desires.

    • We need plenty of tiles at the moment with 2 hearths and 2 bathrooms to tile. I was hoping Paul might go into production with his tiles for at least one of those projects and in the meantime I’ll keep on making them here too. I think some Stormy Castle tiles could work well.

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