Artisan Tile NW advocates artistic excellence, innovation and awareness of handmade tile.
Artisan Tile NW is a non-profit Handmade Tile makers group, dedicated to the creation, promotion and preservation of the art and craft of handmade tiles. We sponsor a yearly show to raise public awareness about the range and diversity of artisan tiles being produced in the Northwest.
A Brief History
Artisan Tile NW began on Labor Day weekend in 2005. Artist Paula Gill recalls having a conversation with artist Carol Dean Rose at the Bayview Farmer’s Marker in Langely on Whidbey Island. Paula had just returned from a craft show in Minnesota and was astounded by her customers’ awareness of handmade tile in the region. Years earlier, artist Josh Blanc had started The Upper Midwest Handmade Tile Organization. This group had apparently done a great job of educating the public about handmade tile. The two women were inspired to get together with other local tilemakers to see if the same kind of awareness could happen in the Pacific Northwest.
Paula and Carol contacted every tilemaker they knew in the area and scheduled a meeting for the following month. Grand Central Bakery in Pioneer Square was the location of the first meeting. There were about twelve tilemakers in attendance. Among those present were Carol, Paula, Steve Moon, Paul Lewing, Kristin Ohberg, Meredith McLeod, and Iris and Bob Jewett. Iris had been talking for years about joining forces with other tilemakers to run an ad in a national publication so she had the initial idea of a NW handmade tilemakers collaboration.
The first Tile Festival was held at the Phinney Neighborhood Center in June of 2006. The show was initiated and organized by Carol and the first commemorative tile was designed by clay artist John Taylor. The turnout was good and the festival was a success. This marked the beginning of a yearly tradition.
Between yearly Tile Festivals, a lot of discussion, sharing of ideas, and festival preparation takes place. After the first few gatherings, artist Maria Root offered to host the meetings at her house. She knew from her experience with other organizations that having a designated place to meet would help the group maintain consistency and attendance. To this day, many monthly meeting are still taking place around Maria’s dining room table. While some of the original members occupy their place at the table, there are many new faces as well. Artisan Tile NW continues to be a supportive and welcoming place for a very diverse group of tile enthusiasts.