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My initial designs were confined to the conventional creation of images applied to individual tiles.  Still working under the inspiration of the Aesthetic Movement, I developed a design featuring an overall field of netting that could be divided by bamboo frames.  Within these framed areas, great numbers of variations were possible, including varying  infills, and the option of hand applied  colors.  However, I sensed a frustration with the appearance of this conventional arrangement of decorated individual tiles.


 AESTHETIC              NET                         series              

      As a practicing architect, I observed that, despite the plethoric offerings of ceramic tiles, there existed a void between the commercially produced and the artisanal that was not necessarily a function of the price, but rather the level of thoughtfulness related to the designs themselves.  Even "high end" products relied too heavily upon past concepts rather than examining afresh the roles of image, pattern making, and material constraints in the development of designs.  It occurred to me that, as a native of East Liverpool, Ohio, a center for the ceramics industry, it would be possible for me to design and create tiles that would aspire to higher design standards yet still be an economical choice. 

     I began by creating designs influenced by my love of the tiles of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1880's.  Never copying original designs, I, nevertheless, analyzed them, and other antique tiles,  for techniques and stylistic traits.  However, I soon felt a sense of constraint by the realization that the overall image  of an installation would always be of a fragmented field of small repetative units.    

     Rather than handpainting yet another flower, figure, or Delft windmill on a single small tile with fanciful corner patterns, (lovely as these may be) I believed that I should consider those areas displaying the image  as units composed of smaller units.  These would not be murals that ignored completely the scale of the grid to which they are applied, nor would they be the repetative fields of small elements produced by traditional designs. 

     Thus, I approached this challenge as if to design ceramic wallpaper that still respects the smaller units' requirements of matching.




Antique British Aesthetic Movement tile circa 1885
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