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One-Colour Tiles

 

We may call them monochrome but in contemporary catalogues they were called one colour tiles, majolica tiles glazed in a single colour. They were priced little differently to multicolour tiles indeed many one colour tiles were more expensive than multicolour even similar designs from the same manufacturer. Of course it is impossible to have one colour printed tiles because the print would be invisible if it was the same colour as the clay!

There are two main characteristics that can make one colour tiles most spectacular. 1. without the need to accomodate the variables of multicolours, such as different firing temperatures and effects of nearby colours more experimental and evocative glazes could be used, this is most apparent in colours and translucency. 2. without the distraction of multicolours the pure design can show through, especially when the manufacturing, especially glazing, quality is exemplary. Most date from the edwardian era when glaze technology had progreesed to bring to the market highly translucent glazes in a good range of colours.

The second point is most important for in the infinitely variable range of textures and hues available in good quality bas relief moulding there is so much more depth than can possibly by achieved by printing and only by the most skilled of painters. One colour majolica tiles are to a great extent overlooked by traditional tile collectors but they can and do exhibit and demonstrate pure design in a clear and accommodating format.

In some respects this added benefit is best seen in portrait and pictorial tiles, although not denying the great skills of designers, painters and engravers who could convey much with simple lines. George Cartlidge's standout émaux ombrants tiles are way ahead of the pack but even so that does not deny the excellence of embossed majolica portraits tiles such as those by Wade and Craven Dunnill, and rather less understood is the glaze technology required to bring such modelling to its best in the final product.

Some of the richer colours look very dark on screen and even quite subdued in ordinary internal lighting, they really come in to their own in bright natural light. Displayed or fitted where the sun shines they are amongst the most dramatic of tile displays, where lighter coloured tiles may appear washed out the brilliance and colour shows through. Ideal locations are sunrooms and porches.

But I am a lover of art nouveau, the freedom of expression, the unbridled creativity of the artist. Some single colour art nouveau tiles rank in the top echelons of art nouveau tiles amongst Wades brilliant moulding and colours, Marsden's brilliant moulding and colours and Richards top tube line and free design.

 
 

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