Sunday, October 19, 2014

L'esperance Tile Works - 35 years ago in Troy, NY

Since we're celebrating 35 years in business, Don suggested that we play hooky last Saturday and take a drive past some old haunts of the first few years of L'esperance Tile Works in downtown Troy, NY.

Me, Dennis, and Don at Northeast Ceramic Supply

 We had to stop by our ceramic materials supplier, Northeast Ceramic Supply, to pick up supplies for some current projects, so we were headed to Troy anyway. When I started my business 35 years ago, Dennis Smith was an employee of Northeast Ceramics - he's now the owner (for many years!), and has recently located to a great new space on Monroe Street in Troy.

The Canon Building

My very first studio space was located in the Canon Building, in downtown Troy, on the corner of Broadway and Second Street. We were on the third floor, which previously housed law offices, and was a large open space, full of light from the corner windows. Troy didn't have an active arts community way back in 1979 when I was there, but it's changed and grown a lot since then. An amazing farmer's market was in full swing when we visited, and we ran into a number of people we knew. They sang the praises of the energy and artistic activity happening in downtown Troy these days. It made me want to move back!!

#2 Washington Place - my apartment for 5 years

At the same time I started the business, I moved to an apartment on the fourth floor of a beautiful old brownstone on historic Washington Park, about 6 blocks south of my studio space in the Canon Building - a beautiful walk away, rain or shine. It was the old servant's quarters for the building, and had the largest and best lit bathroom I've ever  had - fully tiled with what would become our bread and butter production tile. I didn't know that at the time, because I was using local terra cotta clay for all the tiles I was making, but this bathroom was tiled floor to wainscot with white crackle field, mudbase and mudcap. The 4 flights of walk-up kept me in quite good shape!

My windows on the 4th floor.

Washington Park

Laid out in 1840, the Park is one of only two privately owned urban ornamental parks in the United States. The gates were locked and owning a key was one of the privileges of being a tenant on the park.

Entrance to #2 Washington Place

I always loved the carved details of the building and seeing it again after so many years brought back a surge of great memories.

Cobbled streets of Washing Place

Parking was never a problem, but I remember many times getting stuck in ruts of deep winter snow on this street!

Troy is so full of amazing buildings that are decorated with historically significant ceramic tile, and I'll show a few in my next post.

Please visit my Etsy shop and view some of our lovely decorative tiles here -

L'esperance Tile on Etsy

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Glazed 35th Anniversary tile!

It's very exciting to work in clay - from idea, to creation, then drying the piece, firing it for the first time (bisque), glazing, and glaze firing....a long road to get to the finished piece. And some pieces get many glaze firings after the first. Whenever I make custom pieces I always make at least two extras to make sure that I get one that is perfect. So when I got the original tile that I made for our 35th Anniversary commemorative piece out of the glaze kiln.....perfect....I was very very pleased!!

Brushing glaze onto the tile - I chose one of my favorite glazes - our Azure blue gloss crackle.

The glaze has a touch of periwinkle tone to it.

Our glaze is a high boron glaze and the blue comes from adding a Mason stain at 1/2% to it. The stain has cobalt oxide as the colorant.

The finished, glazed tile

It measures about 5 11/16" square - a non-standard size...which makes sense to me......

A  long haul....but now we're headed towards 40 years!!

I had originally thought I'd add a detail of silver luster to the edge, but now that I see the glazed tile, I don't think that detail is needed.

What do you think??

I'll be posting sales of 35% off on particular items in my Etsy shop. Today's special is on my Roman Soldier Panel. Originally priced at $325.00, use coupon code 35YEARS to make it $211.25!!

Find the listing here -

You can find my tiles for sale on etsy here -
You can find my other social networking links here -

I'm making just 35 pieces of our Anniversary tile, all numbered on the back. Most of them will be going to family, friends, and honored customers...but I will save one for a give-away for one lucky person. Hey, it might be worth something someday!! :>)

Stay tuned for that contest before the end of next week.

Are you interested in having us create a commemorative tile for you? Please contact us at to talk!!

XX Linda@L'esperance Tile Works OO

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Celebrating 35 years of making beautiful tiles!!

It's hard to believe, but it's true what they say....time flies when you love what you do!! I'm creating a commemorative tile to celebrate our 35 years in business, and I'm using the very first tile I ever carved for the brand new DBA - L'esperance Tile Works, in September of 1979. Here's the process.

My Daylily Tile 4x4 was the first decorative that I carved after the DBA for L'esperance Tile Works was filed, in downtown Troy, NY.

I had the mould pressed into a large slab of clay, and cleaned up the edges. I decided to make the 4x4 into a larger sized tile with lettering and a decorative swirled background.

I created lettering in photoshop and laid the image over the wet clay tile. Then I traced the lettering onto the clay with a ball point pen.

I created a border around the tile for ease in pressing the mould.

Here's the wet clay with the lettering and border images slightly impressed from the pen.

I'm adding a decorative swirl in the background of the commemorative tile.

Here's the finished added additions to the wet clay. I poured a plaster mould on top of this tile, and notated that it is the original carving on the back of the tile....recorded for posterity!

Here's the tile cut around the border and drying.

This tile will be bisqued in the next few days and glazed in a light blue crackle. Then I'll start pressing a limited number of tiles. I'll hand number 1 - 35 on the back of the first 35 pieces, creating a limited edition. I'll also add a gold luster border to make them even more special. Each of my family members will get one, along with a number of very special friends and highly valued customers who have followed us through the years. I'll also save one for a stay tuned for the details before the end of September!

You can find my tiles for sale on etsy here -
You can find my other social networking links here -

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