Monday, February 25, 2013

Handmade Art Nouveau ceramic morning glory border tile

6x2 relief carved Art Nouveau morning glory ceramic tile border
The symbiotic relationship between pollinators such as bees and flowers is well known, but not only are bees drawn to a flowers bright colors, aroma and patterns, they are also drawn to the generally negative charge of a flowers electric field. Unlike the grounded flower a bee will typically have a positive charge from the friction of brushing against microscopic particles in the air as they fly. Because of these opposite electrical charges the pollen from a flower literally jumps onto a bee as it lands. The charge in the flower then changes for a few minutes letting other bees know it has recently been visited and may be low in nectar for the moment.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Handcrafted, relief carved Celtic mermaid ceramic tile

8x8 relief carved Celtic mermaid ceramic tile done here in an art glaze we call emerald shadow.
The Merrow
The Merrow, or in the Irish, Moruadh or Murruadh, from muir, sea, and oigh, a maid, is not uncomon they say, on the wilder coasts. The fishermen do not like to see them, for it always means coming gales. The male Merrows ( if you can use such a phrase...I have never heard the masculine of Merrow) have green teeth, green hair, pig's eyes, and red noses; but their women are beautiful, for all their fish tails and the little duck like scale between their fingers. Sometimes they prefer, small blame to them, good looking fishermen to their sea lovers. Near Bantry in the last century, there is said to have been a woman covered all over with scales like a fish, who was decended from such a marriage. Sometimes they come out of the sea, and wander about the shore in the shape of little hornless cows. They have, when in their own shape, a red cap, called a cohullen druith, usually covered in feathers. If this is stolen, they can not again go down under the waves. Red is the color of magic in every country, and has been from the very earliest times. The caps of fairies and magicians are well-nigh always red.
~ From the Book of Fairy & Folk Tales of Ireland, compiled by W.B. Yeats, 1892.~

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Decorative handmade ceramic Celtic heart tile

6x6 relief carved ceramic Celtic heart tile
It is said by some that the very ancient festival of lupercalia, February 13-15 in honor of Lupercus, god of shepherds and Lupa, the she wolf that suckled the orphan founders of Rome, Remus & Romulus is the origin of Valentines day. In Roman tradition the festival began with the Luperci (brothers of the wolf) priests. With foreheads smeared in sacrificial blood wiped from the knife with milk soaked wool, wearing only a bit of goat skin on their back, the Luperci priests would circle the city of Rome whipping the women that lined the route with shaggy goat thong whips.  This was believed to ensure the barren fertility and the pregnant easy deliveries. Other Roman men of high rank would later get naked and run about town whipping any women they could get near.  Another of the festivities during Lupercalia included eligible men drawing maiden's names from an urn, the couple would then pair up for the remainder of the festival, sometimes longer. Around 496 AD Pope Gelasias, feeling that this running around in nothing but sacrificial blood, worshiping a human suckling wolf goddess and most of all the pairing of un married couples was not in keeping with the Christian teachings, ended the festival and replaced it with St. Valentines day whom he declared the patron saint of lovers (that being a whole other story) February 14 then became the day for men to draw the names of saints from the urn and spend the following year emulating their drawn saint. This practice proved to be much less popular than the Lupercalia festivities and quickly fizzled out. By the 15th century Valentines day had returned to coupling eligible singles and attempts to revive the saint pairing later never caught on. During medieval chivalry days the Valentines custom was to draw names in pairs, the man then wearing the name of his chosen woman on his sleeve, honor bound to attend and protect her. The 17th century saw the custom of exchanging elaborate hand made cards with flowery verse. Pre fabricated cards and a reduction in postal rates in 1797 ushered in the practice of mailing Valentine cards. Suddenly, most likely due to the anonymity of the mail, great numbers of racy and sexually suggestive cards began to appear. A great stir was caused amongst the prudish Victorians and several countries actually banned the exchange of cards due to the large number of obscene Valentines circulating. In the late 19th century the Chicago post office rejected tens of thousands of cards as not being fit to be carried through the US mail. But those Valentine cards were just not to be stopped and today February 14, jokingly referred to as a 'hallmark' holiday has the highest sale of cards than any other day of the year and I'm sure one can find a good smattering of sexually suggestive ones among them, especially by Victorian standards. So Happy Lupercalia!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Decorative relief carved, hand painted ceramic iris tile

4x10 relief carved and hand painted ceramic Iris tile.
The iris is one of the most readily recognized flower in the world, with over 300 species in every color of the rainbow. It's Rhizome root known as Orris has been used since ancient times for perfumes, soap and it's medicinal properties. In ancient Greece the goddess Iris was credited with restoring calm to the forces of nature after a storm, known as the keeper of the rainbow which she personified to lead the souls of women to the Elysian fields, abode of the blessed after death. It was customary in Greece for purple Irises to be planted on the graves of women in honor of her task.
Her symbol and staff  is two intertwined snakes and besides being the goddess of the rainbow Iris was also a faithful servant and messenger to both her mistress Hera and the other Olympian gods, being one of the few Olympians that could travel to and from the underworld with messages.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Custom decoratve field tile

As well as all the decorative carved tiles and borders, we also do custom shaped field tile that is 'fitted' to various projects. For instance when designing this hearth John shaped the tiles to fit the space exactly and radiate in a curve,  keeping with the style of the insert and 6x6 art deco knot tiles across the top. We reproduced one row of tiles in the front to match some of the detail on the fire place.