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Handmade Tile Association Newsletter
S P O T L I G H T on artists and events




Our 15th Year

Welcome to the May 2014 Art A Whirl spotlight on Handmade Tile Association artists. We feature three tile artists every month, plus links and resources (at right) to many of the tile events, gallery shows, and workshops featured around the country. 

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Sheryl Tuorila Fine Art Tile  
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sheryl Tuorila Fine Art Tile is located in studio 403 of the Northrup King Building in Northeast MInneapolis.  From her studio she creates unique, custom tile work for fine art panels, furniture, public art,  commercial installations and residential home installations.  Sheryl also teaches complete overview workshops in mosaics and tilemaking.

Check out her Facebook business page under Sheryl Tuorila Mosaics to see step-by-step images of recently completed commissions ranging from a public art installation at Metro State University in St. Paul to a private installation in a cabin on the Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota (photo below).
9 ft Wood Stove Wall in a beautiful cabin on the Gunflint Trail 
Sheryl's work is inspired by the dynamic, flowing quality of life's interactions - in nature and amongst people.  Her pieces are about shape, color, and texture, all working together to create imagery that encourages the viewer to stop a moment and experience it more fully.
Streaming - Detail
Follow Sheryl's Facebook page this summer as she embarks on many trips to explore the natural attractions of Minnesota through a Minnesota Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.  She will travel and explore four distinct areas of Minnesota: prairie, lake, river and forest, bringing inspiration back to her studio to create art directly related to what she discovers in each location.  Through her Facebook page, she will share her creative steps and, finally, offer a view of the completed art. 

24 ft long installation at Metro State University - Detail 

Sheryl's work can be found in many hospitals throughout the Twin Cities including Mayo Clinic, HCMC, Regions, Children's Hospital, HealthEast and Gillette.  She also has installations in three Twin Cities' libraries: in Ridgedale Library, NE Library, and Roosevelt Library.


Visit her studio during the First Thursday open studio events at Northrup King Building and during the upcoming Art-A-Whirl events on May 16, 17th and 18th or her website any time, to sign up for classes.  


- Contact -
Sheryl Tuorila Fine Art Tile 
Northrup King Building, Studio 403
1500 Jackson St. NE

Lea-Way Designs  
Leann Johnson 
Minneapolis, Minnesota


For the past ten years, Leann Johnson has been an artist in many forms: scratchboard and scientific illustration, printmaking and tile design.  She's also available for graphic design consulting, helping clients find budget-savvy resources.
Blue Touchstone, framed, ready to hang

Framed, ready-to-hang tiles have become a relatively new product line for Leann, created for customers who don't want to leave a large, custom backspash behind when moving.  She used Adinkra symbols in the top and bottom tiles.  From left to right: valor, cleverness, wisdom and a safe house.  The bottom tiles, l to r: soul, toughness, value and immortality.   


The background glaze on the symbol tiles is applied by "bubbling" which she does using a low-fire glaze, water, a bit of dish soap, a plastic cup, a straw and a lot of breath, creating a random, dimensional background.  She adds a clear glaze before firing, making the tile easier to install and maintain. 

Amber Tile Bracelet
Leann's bracelets have become a popular tile product for her.  They are handmade, low-fire stoneware that are hand glazed (Mayco or Amaco glazes).  Each bracelet has a card detailing the Adinkra symbols' meanings.  From near the T-hook on the right, the Ram's Head, a symbol for strength, another for learning-from-the-past, for endurance, a safe house and finally "value."  Leann says she likes art that is beautiful, useful and has meaning.  She finds that symbols cross borders, cultures and gender.
West African mudcloth backsplash with 4.25 inch tiles
The tile design is inspired by West African mudcloth, which is hand-dyed and hand-woven.  The tiles are also available in 6 x 6 inch.  Leann starts with commercial bisque that she hand glazes and fires.

A Minneapolis blog from March of 2013 interviewed Leann about her work and processes in Slices from the Minneapple.  She's found that including the meanings of each tile on the back of the framed pieces has been a good marketing strategy, as well as including a card that includes gift and interior design suggestions.
- Contact Info -
Lea-Way Designs, LLC  
2107 24th Avenue South 
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 825-7602
 Lea Way Designs 

Clay Squared to Infinity   
Josh Blanc  
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Clay Squared started in 1996 in the studio/home of Josh Blanc and Layl McDill.  Layl is a polymer clay artist; Josh makes red clay terracotta tiles.  Clay Squared has grown and moved twice since then, first to Central Avenue in NE Minneapolis and then to the current location in the Keg House Arts Building, also in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, where they've been for ten years. Clay Squared to Infinity is still a fully operational tile making studio and tile showroom that represents both local and national tile makers as well as several sources of historic tile reproductions.
Cosmic Ring Swing, 8 x 8 in tiles, 26 in in total
Josh's "Cosmic Ring Swing," (aka "Saturn Ring Swing") created last fall, was accepted into the 5th Biennial Concordia Continental Ceramics Competition at Concordia University.  It was designed as a bas relief by attaching ribbons of clay glazed in multiple colors above the white background.  The show runs from May 6th through June 27th at the Concordia Gallery in St Paul, MN.
Double Take Fireplace - Pesto side 
This two-sided fireplace allows the home owner to set the tone for two rooms with one wall between them. The homeowner wanted a fireplace in her dining room and one, on the other side, for her reading room.  Click on the link to see several photos, including detail shots, of both sides.  (Jade Moss tiles are used in addition to Pesto tiles in the floor surround, on this side.)

Josh (not Jonathon!) mixing glazes in the studio at Clay Squared

Josh has always tried to strike a balance between making handmade tiles, for kitchens, bathrooms and fireplaces, and making one-of-a-kind art tiles. He's found that creating art tiles is a great way to experiment, to develop new ideas and to find new glaze combinations.  

During the coming weekend Clay Squared will participate in the largest studio crawl in the country: North East Minneapolis Art Association's Art-A-Whirl.  Josh will be showcasing how to make tiles, show some of Clay Squared's latest projects and of course his new art tiles.

Clay Squared is open 11 - 5pm, Monday - Saturday and, this Sunday, May 18th, noon to 5pm. 

- Contact -

Clay Squared to Infinity
34 13th Ave NE, Suite 109
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 781-6409
historic reproduction tiles:
Did these artists spark your interest for your tile project or tile collection? If so, contact them to let them know what you like about their work. Sign up for their mailing lists and/or social media. One of the best ways to support handmade tile is to share your favorite tile artists with friends and colleagues. Be a tile maven and help spread the word!     

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Josh Blanc
Handmade Tile Association, LLC  

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