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Bella Vista Tile: Material Alchemy

On 27, Feb 2011 | 4 Comments | In Uncategorized | By Nancie

Fascination  3″ square

This month, The Tileista (aka JoAnn Locktov) brings to life the sumptuous work of tile artists Lisa TeviaClark and her husband James Clark.  How wonderful to learn of artisans who want to
“. . . create art that speaks to and gives comfort. . .”  Enjoy – Nancie

Lisa TeviaClark has immersed herself in the material language of her medium. For the past thirty years she has experimented with clay and the alchemy of heat, salt, ash, minerals, and glazes. With her husband James Clark, she established Bella Vista Tile in 2003, as both a limited production studio and a laboratory.

Bowl with Flowers Mural,  24″ square

Her careful study of ancient Chinese wood ash glazes provides the inspiration for a contemporary interpretation. Every tree specimen, from Bull Pine to Madrone, interacts with the earth in its own way, resulting in an ash that is completely unique. More than fifty glazes adorn the tile collections, supporting TeviaClark’s desire “to make many different visual realities with tile.”

Cascade Dream 34″ x 17″

Making their own molds, hand pressing the clay, mixing and developing custom glazes, glazing by hand, carving and impressing bas relief patterns, together with the intimate and delicate dance of high firing, contributes to the artisanal nature of the tile.

Cascade Dream Detail

Originally creating hand thrown vessels, platters and tableaux (clay icons), TeviaClark transfers the individual nature of her former art into the character of her tile. Each is complete and has the potential to transform the space in which it resides. “I usually get a strong sense of what our tile can bring to the atmosphere,” she says, “what our tile can contribute. I’m very aware of how our tile becomes part of the place.”

Grove Fascination 2.5″ square

A visit several years ago to hot glass artist David Goldhagen resulted in bringing home buckets of glass, broken shards, powders, chunks, the raw materials with which to experiment and ultimately to give birth to a new collection. “Fascinations” brings together porcelain and glass.

Fascination  3″ square

It consists of delicate carvings, bas-relief dimensionality, matte and metallic glazes together with fragments of glass. Melted and merged, when fired, each tile is a window of light and a well of saturated color. They are reminiscent of stained glass but with light glowing from beneath, an effect made possible by the variable reflective depths of the glass.

Kitchen Installation

When she saw that customers were reproducing sample boards as kitchen focal points, TeviaClark was inspired to create elaborate panels incorporating stones, gems, pearls, and ceramic medallions. Ornate, richly colored mosaics, they offer malleable concepts for materials and textures that invite close observation.

Mosaic Bouquet  20.5″ square

The work of Bella Vista Tile is an antidote to the demise of beauty in the world. “I see that beauty is diminishing in the world. More and more, spaces feel stark and oppressive. When I encounter something beautiful I feel human and somehow cared for. I want to create art that speaks to and gives comfort to the souls of sensitive people.” Encouragingly, she adds, “I believe we are all sensitive people.”

 Lisa TeviaClark & James Clark

For more information:

“Tileista” is a monthly column that explores the beauty of artisan tile. JoAnn Locktov is the author of two books (Mosaic Art and StyleThe Art of Mosaic Design) and numerous articles on contemporary mosaics and tile. Her public relations firm Bella Figura Communications represents creative individuals and businesses in design, architecture, art, and travel. Follow her musings on Twitter:

“Tileista” articles on MAN can be found here.

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  1. Broad

    Thanks, quality list and they do work i have tested them. noboddy ever includes any locksmith blogs though.Glass Partitions

  2. Bella Vista Tile

    Thank you Ed, Nancie and JoAnn!

    Some answers for you….We produce an extensive collection of high-fired handmade decorative bas-relief murals, decorative tile insets, listellos and mosaic elements. They are hand-pressed from our own handmade molds, and available in many different glazes which I also developed.

    Our work is represented by showrooms around the nation, who special order our tile for their clients. Over time I've been designing and making original (one-of-a-kind) Art Tile Mosaic panels which are available through our showrooms, from us directly, or sometimes through galleries, or fine art exhibits.

    I often experiment with glazes & I'm always thinking about different ways to work with materials. The tile with glass came out of this kind of exploration. Though they are unique, they are 'repeatable' in the sense that I can make groups that will work together. I do have control of the intensity of color, etc.
    'Fascination' is the name of a collection of tile patterns. You may want to explore the Catalogue section of our website to see more of our tile designs and glazes.

    Now about wood-ash: It's interesting, all the elements & minerals that trees incorporate from the soil and water remain in the ash after the wood is burned. At high enough temperatures the ash will fuse to become a glaze. The different kinds of ash fuse and form glazes with different qualities depending on their composition. Some are clear and shiny, others more opaque with some differences in color too. I often add coloring oxides, but find that different kinds of ash in concert with the oxides will produce very different kinds of effects.

    I write a blog, which is another 'window' on my creative process, projects we are working on, and new discoveries. I invite you to see: Art Tile Mosaics: Bella Vista Tile Journal.

    Thanks so much for your interest.
    Lisa TeviaClark

    Bella Vista Tile

  3. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Ed, good questions! Here's hoping we can get Lisa and John away from their studio long enough to get some answers. I love their work, too. I think "fascination" describes this whole post!

  4. Ed Kinsella

    Thank you JoAnn and MAN/Nancie.

    Their work is very appealing. It seems like some of their pieces are repeatable if they make molds, but some pieces must be unique if they utilize glass and other material. Can you comment on how their output is determined? Do they do limited editions of their work, all custom to-order, or are they constantly creating to maintain a stock of tiles for decorators and consumers to select from and purchase?

    It was also fascinating to read about tree ash. So different tree ash results in different colors or finishes?

    Thank you and regards,

Luca Barberini Bone Flowers