Tag Archives: Mihrab

Ceramic Tile Art

lacma_Iran_Kashan ceramic tiles.jpg Section of a 14th century Mihrab, Kashan, Iran


Ceramic tile evolution


Originating in the Middle East, the earliest evidence of ceramic tile art decorations dates back to Ancient Egypt to around 4,700 BCE. There have been further findings of enamel tiling uncovered in what was Assyria (near ancient Nineveh) and Babylon; these date back to the 7th Century BCE. The art of tiling finally spread further west, becoming popular in Europe during the eleventh century, when mosaic floorings and panels became prevalent. At first it was used to decorate and adorn their churches and other religious establishments. Then much later it was used by the wealthy to decorate and beautify their homes. The Spanish and Italians made beautiful and elaborate designs in numerous geometric shapes and sizes, examples of which can be found in Spain at the Alhambra palace and also the Great Mosque in Cordoba.


Ceramic-Tiles-Persian-Azulejos a warrior riding a horse

Persian Azulejos tile


The Islamic potters, led by the Persians, revived an ancient Egyptian technique, in which an artificial body material was made up from ground quartz with a small admixture of white clay and glaze. The soft paste body was then covered by thin alkaline glaze. The ‘frit’ body was white translucent when thin and capable of a wide range of decorative techniques. The tiles and wares had a fine white body, unequal to porcelain only in its softness, and a close-fitting brilliant glaze that allows a vibrant range of colors.

The invention of under glaze painting, however was very significant for the history of ceramics. The under glaze painting technique required a glaze stable enough to prevent the pattern from blurring during firing; it was discovered in the use of the virtuous alkaline glaze coating (formulae unknown). For the first time the potters were able to paint freely directly on the frit body under a protective layer of glaze. The new alkaline glaze enabled the artisan to decorate the ‘frit’ ware with precision and delicacy. Also this technique did not have the disadvantages of the earlier lead-glaze wares, which involved great expense in fuel and labor.


Persian-Tile decorated with a minstrel serenading a girl

Persian glazed tile



Royal Doulton ceramic tile with a blue star motif

A tile from 23 Black Prince Rd. London, where Royal Doulton’s offices were originally located.

 Panel of Tiles cobalt blue –  ( Brooklyn Museum )



Persian-tiles at the Shah Sheragh Shrine at Shiraz,

  Persian ceramic tiles decorating the Shah Sheragh Shrine at Shiraz, Fars province, Iran. Image Courtesy – dynamosquito / Flickr


The main reason to use alkaline glazes is their ability to enhance and change the properties of coloring oxides in the fired glaze. When fired correctly, these colors have a brightness and clarity that is hard to match. Interesting color changes include:
  • Copper giving turquoise blue (but overfired can go green or even brown)
  • Cobalt, used in conjunction with magnesia, can give pinks and purples
  • Iron giving blue

The Dutch arrival on the scene in the 17th century was very important to the development in the European tile production. It came about when the Dutch East India Company began importing Chinese blue and white porcelain ware into Holland, which became very popular, so they set up a factory to try to imitate the Chinese porcelain, but their efforts failed. However, they were able to arrive at a very high quality earthenware, which became known as delft blue. Eventually an international market was developed and delftware was exported throughout the world.


Eight sided blue and white tile - Dutch delft

 Dutch Delft Blue Tile – 1730

The Spanish and Italian Majolica tradition, (mainly used as floor tiles until its durability began to be questioned, was then applied to the walls instead) and the Dutch delft tiles, all have a very important place in the history of European tile production. Britain’s arrival on the tile production scene was comparatively late. However, when they arrived they established factories in two English cities, York and Winchester, where they began to mass-produce ceramic tiles, which brought about a reduction in price, making it more widely available and affordable.

red_backsplash_birds ceramic tiles Eastern mughal style

Peacocks splash tiles

Handmade tile art can be truly timeless and contribute to exceptional interior design elements. Some tiles themselves are free form – not square or rectangular as one would expect. Often the shapes are subtle representations of the subject itself. These works are tactile, one wants to touch them and feel their shapes and brilliant colors.

  Susan Beere Ceramic Tile Koi muralKoi Mural – Susan Beere

tree-in-sun-Swanson-StudiosTrees in sun –  Swanson Studios

OutdoorTile Mural by Swanson Studio

Outdoor tiled mural – Swanson Studio


backsplash_tiles of peacocks and botanical plants and flowersBacksplash tiles with symmetrical peacocks and botanical decoration



Iranian phoenix ceramic tile Fritware, overglaze luster-painted

Frieze tile with phoenix, ca. 1270s
Fritware, overglaze luster-painted ( The Met )



Ceramic Tile Mural fountain

Twin peacock tile mural fountain



Chinese hand painted ceramic tiles Chinese hand painted  ceramic tiles



Garden courtyard with ceramic tiles and terracotta flower pots

Armenian Ceramic Balian



Armenian bathroom ceramic tile wall mural

Armenian Ceramic Tile and Murals of Jerusalem – Balian



Ceramic Tile Shoes

Martha Graham –  ‘Lamentation’

” do anything you want but don’t step on my mosaic tiled shoes “


Japanese tile bridge with a dragon in blue and white Porcelain tile bridge, Japan



Peublo art deco geometric ceramic tiles

Pueblo Deco geometric patterns, and a ceramic clock in the kitchen, Adamson House, Malibu.



Persian carpet ceramic tiles

Persian style “ceramic tile” carpet . The elaborate pattern which uses more than 670 tiles was created using cuerda seca glazing.

 Zsolnay Ceramic Tiles

  Zsolnay Ceramic Tiles, Hungry



Wheatley-Tile-Co-tiled-wall fountain

Wheatley Tile Co tiled wall



Malibu Tiles Adamson House Jungle Parrots on a geometric ceramic tile panelJungle Parrots – Malibu Tiles



Malibu Tiles Adamson House tiled outdoor pool Tiles from Malibu Potteries, 1932 ( Adamson House )

 Tile Artistry Flickr



Two Dragons Ceramic Tiles

Public tiled mural of two dragons



Mosaic tiled art

Tiled mosaic in a church arch



large green ceramic tiled wood heater

Ceramic Tiled Wood Fired Heater



Marrakech tiled courtyard with fountains

Tiled courtyard – Marrakech, Morocco

Celtic style shamrock tile by Earthsong

Shamrock – Earthsong Tiles

Ceramic Swan Tiles by Earthsong

Swans – Earthsong Tiles



Art NOouveau tile with a girl in a blue gown by Walter Crane

Walter Crane

Orange cougar Aztec ceramic tile

 Aztec Cougar tile

French Japonism ceramic tile

French Japonisme ceramic tile

English Art Nouveau Hibiscus Majolica---1890-to-1910 White orchid flower

English Art Nouveau Hibiscus Majolica –1890-to-1910

Ceramic kingfisher ceramic tile - -MICHAEL MENASHY

Noble King Fisher -Micheal Menashy

Benaya Art Ceramics

Elihu Vedder-Esmeralda-tile-porduced by Low

Elihu Vedder-Esmeralda tile produced by Low – 1882

(  http://tilesinnewyork.blogspot.com.au/  )

Morroccan-Art-Deco-tiles by ceramic-concepts

Moroccan Art Deco tiles by Ceramic-Concepts

Portuguese tiles by Bordalo Pinheiro

Portuguese tiles by Bordalo Pinheiro

Thorsson Royal Copenhagen Abstract Tile

Thorsson Royal Copenhagen Abstract Tile

Susannah Lints,-USA

Ceramic art tile – Susannah Lints, USA

French Art Nouveau Ceramic Tile with pink flowers and symmetrical layout

French Art Nouveau Ceramic Tile



Qajar-Ceramic Art-Tile A girl listening to two female musicians

A tile from the Qajar dynasty of the late Persian Empire




Two Celtic dragons ceramic tile – Joseph Maas




‘Button Basket Tangerine’ – Motawi Tiles



Bird-in-Thorns-relief ceramic tile by-Steve-Gardner

‘Bird in Thorns’ by Steve Gardner




Polia Pillin




Abstract bird clay tile by Heidi Soos — Highland Fairy on Flickr





Minstrel Playing harp – Morris and Company






Ceramic tiled panel –  Tiled and painted by Domenico Liverani Giannetto Malmerendi