Earthenware Tiles and Ceramics of Seville

The 12th century Moors were the first in Spain to decorate the walls, floors, ceilings, and facades of their religious and secular buildings with colorful tiles laid in geometric patterns. Figurative motifs were introduced during the Renaissance period. 

Five types of tiles were used to cover the walls, floors, and garden benches of the Alcazar in Seville.

Labor-intensive alicatado tiles were glazed, fired, then shaped with pliers and filed smooth (each color is a different tile). These tiles were shaped and glazed before firing. The raised lines on the rectangular press-molded arista relief tiles keep the glazes from running together during firing. The cuerda seca (dry cord) technique originated in southern Spain in the 15th century. It was used on these rectangular tiles to separate the glazes. Renaissance-inspired figurative motifs were painted on flat square tiles with tin and lead glazes.

An abandoned wood-fired "Arab" kiln on the outskirts of Seville. La Cartuja was first a monastery, then a tile factory. Today the restored buildings and kilns host the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, a modern art museum.

Cuerda seca and Renaissance-inspired figurative motifs may be seen today when visiting ceramic studios in Seville.

A mixture of manganese and olive oil is still used by most cuerda seca ceramists to separate the glazes. The glaze is applied with an ear syringe between the painted  lines. A fired piece is shown in the upper center. Each of the forty- eight Spanish provinces is commemorated with a tiled exhibition space at the Plaza de España. Tile Shrines are found on most churches. This one is on the facade of Los Terceros. Manuel Carillo paints the Virgin on tiles at Cerámica Ruiz Gil, 11 Calle Antillano Campos, Triana, 41003 Seville, Tel: 954 331 390.
Taller de Cerámica has been making original pieces and reproductions of 17th and 18th century tiles, plates, and vessels for more than 30 years. They may be contacted at 25 Calle Aguilas, 41003 Seville, Tel: 954 211 626.

Ceramic tile manufacture has modernized since Montalvan Ceramics was founded in 1850. Commercial fired tiles are used instead of labor-intensive handmade tiles and the "Arab" kiln has been replaced with a cleaner electric car kiln.

Base glaze is applied to bisqued tiles. The backs will be cleaned.

Complex patterns are transferred with several different patterns.

A rod helps steady the painter's hand.

Pieces are stacked and fired in an electric kiln.

Earthenware Ceramics of Ubeda, Spain 
Tiles and Ceramics of Talavera de la Reina, Spain  
Monje Ceramics of Lora del Rio, Spain
Earthenware Tiles of Portugal  
Majolica Ceramics of Caldas da Rainha, Portugal  
Blacksmithing in Andalucia, Spain   
Sculpture of Seville, Spain  
Silversmithing of Seville, Spain 
Metal Spinning of Seville, Spain
Marquetry of Granada, Spain
Capelo of Guanajuato, Mexico
Angelica Escarcega Rodriguez of Guanajuato, Mexico
José Luis Méndez Ortega of Guanajuato, Mexico
Guevara Ceramics of Guanajuato, Mexico
Tecpatl Ceramics of Guanajuato, Mexico
Maya Reproductions of the Yucatan
Pottery of Western Cameroon
Traditional Dunzi Production in Yaoli, China
Porcelain Production in Jingdezhen, China
Roof Tiles in Bali, Indonesia  
History of Mayolica in Spain and Mexico

Web page, photographs, and text by Carol Ventura in 2005. Please look at Carol's home page to see more about crafts around the world.