The Practical Virtues of Tile
Tile design is exploding today with such force it seems as if the material has just been invented. Instead it is being reinvented, again and again, in exuberant, stylish, smart ways that give testament to its flexibility. It is being explored to its fullest potential, although that potential seems to be limitless. Its possibilities are as varied as the visions each artist has for it. Jill Herbers, in Tile.
Tile murals have decorated homes and businesses for centuries. The use of tiles dates back over 6000 years to Egypt. The history of tile is entwined with the history of civilization, and shows no sign of losing its luster in times to come. People all over the world decorate with tile. The inclusion of hand painted tiles can consist of a few interspersed with plain field tile and range to huge tile murals covering entire walls.
The durability of painted tile is evident in Lisbon, Portugal, where the oldest tile painting still intact remains vivid and beautiful. It was installed in 1565 and is entitled "Suzanna and the Elders." Aside from its durability, tile is fireproof, water and stain resistant, hygienic and easy to keep clean. Simply wipe with nonabrasive cleansers. Also, unlike carpeting, wood or wallpaper, tile will not fade in sunlight. Tile may also be installed outdoors. The durability of tile contributes to its eco-friendliness a properly installed ceramic tile floor will outlast nearly any other floor covering product created for the same application.
Ceramic tile is by nature environmentally friendly, as it is a natural product made up of clay, a number of other naturally occurring minerals, and water.
Photographs can even be transferred to tile now by a process called Sublimation. I would caution, however, that the process is not the traditional glazing one, and these images on tile can fade or otherwise deteriorate. The glazes I use are permanent. The firing process melts the glaze into the tile, resulting in an image that will not fade. Please see "Safety, Durability" on my Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
Today, a homeowner or interior designer can stop at a chain building supply store and pick up a commercially produced tile mural and have it installed the same day. While convenient and cheap (in more ways than one), these mass manufactured murals cannot hold a candle to the quality, personality, and distinction of custom designed, hand painted, original tile murals.