The Avant-Garden Shop: Your Garden & Bird Store

Garden Gate: Episode 30 – Motawi Tiles

CHEX TV air date: Friday Jan. 24th, 5-6pm

Click here to watch this episode of the Garden Gate.?

ladybellPeople often ask how I find the products that I carry in the shop because they are so diverse and unique. Besides visiting gift and craft shows I also keep my eyes open when we are travelling. These tiles are the result of just such a trip.

My husband and I are fans of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.? Over the last few years we have visited a number of his homes including Falling Water in Pennsylvania. Beautiful!

The visitors centres for these homes have little gift shops. We had noticed these beautiful tiles with some of his designs on them. I made note of the artists name and when we returned I began my research. I contacted the company and received information including a beautiful catalog.?

We felt more research was necessary, so we decided to take a road trip the next year to the Motawi studio in Ann Arbour Michigan.? There we received a personalized tour of the studio and saw every step of how their tiles are made.

There are 28 steps involved in the creation of these tiles! ?First a design needs to be chosen. The design needs to work in such a way to hold the glazes that they use within their edges. So the design often is adapted to work with their style. Once a design is approved, a template is made. Then a mold. Using their exclusive locally sourced clay a tile is created using a 60 ton press. It is hand trimmed and then fired in a kiln overnight.? Once removed from the kiln, an artist like ?Emily? adds the glazes in the appropriate sections. (You’ll see the name of the person who glazed the tile on the back of each piece) Once completed it is put back in the kiln for another firing.

If during any of these steps a problem arises, and the tile isn’t perfect it is either sold as a second or destroyed.

The results are here for you to see. Stunning pieces that can be displayed in a frame, on an easel or even worked into another tiling project.

Nawal Motawi founded Motawi Tileworks more than 20 years ago. A University of Michigan art school graduate with an interest in applied arts, Nawal learned tilemaking at Detroit?s storied Pewabic pottery. She returned to Ann Arbor after a few years and began making her own tiles in a small Ann Arbor garage and selling them at the local farmers? market. The rest is history. Today, Motawi Tileworks carries on the legacy of fine American art tile. They take great pride in their work, in creating something timeless and beautiful.

You?ll notice Nawal?s influence in the arts and crafts, art nouveau movement. Simply beautiful designs.

See more tiles on our website here.

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