by Emmi Micallef July 08, 2018
What happens in Italy does not stay in Italy. Lucky for us. François went to the Umbria and Florence regions last May and he brought back with him an earthenware hand made terra cotta tile that made me quite reflective. It was matte like worn stone, but soft and a bit sablé in texture with occasional Italian craftsmen hand marks. The colors were both gray and beige and sometimes I saw undertones of olive. It felt like old cobblestone paths - worn with age of footprints and time and weather.
I never fall in love quite quickly with any of our products. I have to study them - sit with them. I need for them to open up to me and tell me their story. I did love this new earthenware terra cotta tile for many reasons. My boxes were checked for texture and color and incredible craftsmanship. I could have my elegant tight grout line that I prefer in all our materials and it told me it was authentic. I heard this loud and clear. Yet...my spark was just half lit for this material.
François has an obsession for glazing terra cotta tiles. This is not my obsession. I like drawing and painting - the control of my hand. Glazing and firing hand made terra cotta tiles have too much unknowns. I am not a risk taker - but he is. Every new bisque he gets his hands on - from Spain and France to Italy - he's out in our facility developing new glazes to fire in our kilns.
I shake my head looking around at his work space - a mad scientist with piles of tiles in all colors, meticulous notes of which tiles fire and at what ramp, which cone, for how long, to fan or not to fan...and so forth.
Then the magic happens. He comes to me one late August morning with tiles in his hands. This hand made Italian bisque tile he had discovered were shimmering in glazed colors that made me feel I wanted to dive in and swim for awhile. The colors were rich of many waters that spoke to me of many stories.
Stories. After drawing and painting - my love for stories pulls at my heart and imagination. Holding these majolica tiles in my hands - I walk over to the crates, that have been sitting for months now, with that gorgeous Italian earthenware terra cotta tile. I compare the matte, smooth textures of this grey terra cotta bisque with the smooth, reflective surfaces of Francois' new tiles - and I begin.
My imagination takes hold and I see the collection opening up before me. I not only see it - I feel it. This collection feels different though. I feel an urgency to surrender to my thoughts on how I view the world today - how I want to see the world tomorrow - and what the world was like hundreds of years before.
I feel a deep sadness for the Earth - what we have done to her. I look back at the tiles - and imagine in the world where those who walked on these cobblestones, may have reveled in Earth's glorious beauty - still pristine, undamaged.
Yet - I know today, we as a human collective, are returning to the Earth. We know we are intricately woven into her health. Ours only as good as hers. Our respect for land, water and air are reaching new levels of consciousness. We are at a turning point. And I have hope.
The comparisons of today to the past - but to what past? Where? When was the contrast of life so great - between dark and light? Ah...yes...out of the fires and darkness of the Middle Ages birthed a new life of art, beauty and possibility - the Renaissance.
Are we living then in a similar time? I feel we are living half in an archaic world where what we knew is deconstructing and what we hope for is glimmering there out in the distance - maybe not so so far away. It's the contrast - the pull - the birthing of the new from the old. It weighs on us all. Yet - there is beauty in contrast. And this where the story unfolds.
May I present to you
The Renaissance Archives - A Jeweled Majolica + Earthenware Terra Cotta Wall & Floor Tile Collection.
14th Century Venice is the Voice to this Collection. Leaving the Middle Ages behind, Venetians have entered a profound rebirth of art and culture. Where contrasts collide between what life once was to the dawn of where life is arching. Contrasts that awaken the senses are palpable - beauty takes center stage - between Earth and Sea...along the Venetian Canals.
From beloved Italia, we bring to you a collection that is all at once opaque and colorful - raw and reflective. Earthenware terra cotta tiles, each tile is bespoke using the centuries old method of hand-molding and kiln-firing raw clay into hardened earth. This is a wall and floor tile collection where one is transported to that time where life was hard - but full of possibilities.
Full of possibilities are found in the majolica hand glazed wall tile - inspiration: water. Venice, surrounded by the Adriatic Sea where canals weave through the fabric of daily life - this Majolica Wall Tile Collection is a poetic ode to the waters that cradle Venetians into slumber for centuries.
Proprietary glaze colors created by François Micallef, hand glazed and kiln-fired at the Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. facility
This is a hand made terra cotta tile collection that has surface textures, hand marks and pinholes. This collection is about seeking the truth in Mother Nature - not to form her into a perfection that never represented her true life anyway.
Ti amiamo Madre Natura.
Thank you for your time,Emmi Micallef
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