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Installing Custom Tile Work in Your Home: An Interview with Andy Anderson of Red Clay Tile Works

By Andy Anderson

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

Red Clay Tile Works is a highly unusual source for ceramic tile that people use in focal point installations. We are unique because we are small and we make what we sell and therefore have a great deal of creative control over the final product. A customer is not limited to just the selection of items on the shelf.

The best explanation of the product and the process comes with a visit to our newly revised website at www.redclaytileworks.com. There, a visitor gets an overview of our unique product in a short slide show on the homepage. We make original tile designs, create a mold and then hand form, glaze and fire the tiles to the finished stage ready to be installed. Our fairly basic technology combined with my background in art and design allows a great deal of creative flexibility in addressing each project in a unique way.

Can you describe what custom tile work is, for people who may not know?

Some customers buy tiles from us with their own concept in mind. For a typical kitchen backsplash project, this could be just a few special decorative tiles purchased from us set in a field of commercially available tiles from some of the big box home centers. Going a step further, a customer may purchase both the decorative tiles and the plain "field" tiles that we make along with selected border and trim pieces.

The use of our plain "field" tiles carries the handmade look through the entire project and makes a truly distinctive statement. With handmade tiles, each piece has slight variations from the next creating an overall texture that is unmistakable. For many clients I can also assist in the design process either suggesting the arrangement of tiles from our collection or to design an installation that is unique and one-of-a-kind.

What are the most common places in a home where people want custom tile work for?

Kitchen backsplashes are probably the most common use our tile followed closely by fireplace face and hearth installations. The fireplace is the centerpiece of a room and as such deserves thoughtful treatment. The character of our tile fits very well with homes built in the "Arts and Crafts" design tradition.

Typically, my solutions for fireplace design draw from other architectural features in the adjacent space such as leaded glass panels or interesting woodwork. In homes lacking such features a custom designed fireplace surround can be the anchor for design treatments elsewhere in the living space. Custom House Number tiles featured on the website are the most popular single item that we make. Our tile can be used almost anywhere that a tile product is suitable.

What are some of the advantages of installing custom tile work over ready-made products?

I have had people tell me that a custom piece as straightforward as our House Number Tiles have made a difference when it came time to sell. A feature such as this says that the owners care about design and detail and that the house behind the number has been well cared for. A major installation has that power and more making a home truly unique and adds joy to the home while the owner lives there and value to the home when it is time to sell.

The client can at minimum upgrade the architecture or make a highly personalized statement if he or she chooses. Many of our clients are confident in their tastes and understand the aesthetic as well as the financial value that is conveyed by well-designed and executed hand crafted features in a home.

What advice would you give to homeowners who are starting to remodel/redecorate and want to install some custom tile work in their homes?

My first questions and objective is to find out what the client wants to achieve. From there I ask questions about the tastes of the individual. Do you like contemporary design or are you interested in a period style? What colors and materials will you be using in the adjacent areas? Is there something in the existing space that we can reflect in the design? Do you want the effect to be formal? Rustic? A nature theme? Geometric? When questions like these are addressed a project almost designs itself.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

I welcome contact by phone, email or a visit to the studio (please contact me ahead of your visit). When considering kitchen or other projects, photos, drawings and measurements are important in order for me to understand the situation and to give a meaningful response. Aided by modern communication tools, we have done projects for clients in many parts of the country even though we are small. Tiles and custom house numbers may be purchased directly from our newly revised website.

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About The Author

Andy Anderson co-operates Red Clay Tile Works with Eileen Anderson.

Phone: 412-734-2222

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