Friday, August 28, 2009

FROM NET: The Colorful Story of Malibu Tile

By Ellen Allen
           If you live in Redondo Beach and have children in school, you might recall last year when your child brought home a bisque tile that they had colored in a manner similar to the famous Malibu tiles. The children were studying Malibu potteries through the “Hands on Art” education program. This project was presented by Palos Verdes abstract landscape artist, Phyllis Ferrara.
           At first glance this may have looked like just another art project, but it is an ingenious way to explore the rich history of California Tiles. Malibu Potteries was just one of several local tile companies that put California on the map in the 1920s. Other local tile manufacturers were Batcheldor, CALCO in South Gate, Catalina Clay Products in Avalon, Taylor Tilery in Santa Monica, Gladding McBean & Co. in Hermosa Beach and Brayton Laguna Pottery in Laguna.
           In 1892 Frederick Rindge bought a rancho that stretched from Santa Monica to Oxnard. Rindge established the Hueneme, Malibu, and Port Los Angeles Railroad to keep the Santa Fe Railroad off his land. When Frederick died, his wife, May, became the world’s first female railroad president. May’s daughter Rhoda Agatha and her husband Merritt Huntley Adamson built their summer home overlooking the sea and another home in Serra Retreat. In order to provide tiles for these new homes, May Rindge hired the finest ceramic craftsmen and started the Malibu Tile Works in 1926. The plant only made tiles until 1932 due to a devastating fire.
           The Adamson House is filled with many Malibu Potteries tiles; including an Oriental tile carpet made with over 600 tiles. The tiles themselves are quite beautiful and can be found in many places including the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Union train station in downtown Los Angeles. In fact, you may even have some in your own home as they were used all over southern California.
           The Adamson House is located at the Malibu Lagoon State Beach (23200 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu). Call 310-456-8432 for individual and group tour information. The grounds are available for wedding services and special events.
           The Malibu Tile Works glazing technique was as unique as their tiles. The design’s outline was put on the bisque tile to as act as a resist to keep all of the wonderful colors separate. The glazes were not painted on but rather blobbed on with a tool that looked much like a baby rubber bulb nose aspirator.
      If you think you have Malibu tile or any other kind of California tile in your home, you may want to consider the offer found in the back of More About Malibu Tiles by Ronald Rindge. The Malibu Lagoon Museum has an active tile research committee to authenticate installations of Malibu tiles. Send a photo of your tiles to the committee and they will try to identify the manufacturer and style number.
      If you would like to add Malibu Pottery tile in your house, there are some local stores that sell vintage tile.
      Wells Antiques
      2162 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (213) 413-0558
      Mark Jager Antiques
      1012 Mission Street., So. Pasadena (626) 799-2640
      Mortarless Building Supply Co.
      2707 Fletcher Drive., Los Angeles (323) 663-3291

      California Pottery and Tile Works in South Central LA was founded by three bothers in 1994. Patrick, Sean, and Desmond had their own construction company since 1980 and during that time they found themselves captivated by the handcrafted, hand painted tiles from Malibu Potteries. They now continue the rich tradition of making extraordinary tiles using the same methods as the potters at Surfrider Beach. They even color their tiles in the same strange manner with the rubber aspirators!
      They now have a spotless 20,000 sq. ft. factory. In the front room they have a reproduction of the Oriental tile rug at the Adamson house. More than likely they will give you a tour of the plant so you can see the amazing artistry that goes into all their custom tiles. They also have their own color lab where they can match your tile to your drapes.
      You will find California Pottery and Tile Work at 859 East 60th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90001, (323) 235-4151 7:00am to 3:30pm and at their website,
      So if you are restoring or remodeling your home and are looking for a vintage feel, you may consider adding California tile.
      Additional resources:
      Los Angeles Magazine
      “Heavenly Glaze” by Bill Stern June 2001
      More About Malibu Potteries 1926-1932
      by Ronald Rindge, 1997,
      pub. by The Malibu Lagoon Museum

Traditional Malibu Tile Peacock fountain by CPTW.

CPTW shows that while they stay true to the traditions of Malibu Tiles, they also continue to push the medium in exciting new directions.

Here we have another application that only CPTW can produce. Decorative tiles can be concave or convex and made to fit any uniqe shape or radius.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FROM PRESS: Artist's mural tells history of Ventura

Ventura County Star
By Brenda Loree
Monday, August 24, 2009

Artist's mural tells history of Ventura


The story of Ventura is told in a tile mural that was recently installed by Ventura artist Michael Kelly in the entryway of downtown Ventura’s newest building, the Offco Building on California Street.
Kelly, whose tile work already graces several renovated buildings on Main Street, mounted the 12-by-6 foot mural recently. “I call this ‘public-private’ art,” Kelly said.
Created in early California Spanish Revival style in deep, rich colors, Ventura’s story commences at the bottom of the mural where Chumash natives paddle canoes. Below them appears the word “Shisholop,” Ventura’s original name.
Kelly put in two months of research for the mural with the help of the Museum of Ventura County’s librarian. “Everything depicted is authentic, down to the saddles, canoes and the clothing worn by the Chumash, Father Serra and the city founders,” he said.
Also featured is Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who made landfall in 1592 on San Miguel Island, one of the Channel Islands off Ventura County’s coast,. The island was known as Toqan by the natives.
Kelly depicts the old original pier — a wide wharf on which off- and on-loaded goods were stored on what is now Front Street.
Ventura’s oil industry was beginning to take off, so oil would have been shipped in the 1860s, he said.
Other historical figures depicted in the mural are Junipero Serra, and founding settlers.
The San Buenaventura Mission and its original wooden bell are rendered. The bell along with the clothing and saddles depicted is stored at the museum and will be on display again after the museum’s renovation is complete.
A series of green plaques running across the tiles show actual images taken from the bronze doors at Ventura City Hall. Ventura’s famous old Las Palmas Chile Factory made the cut, too.
The First National Bank, which still stands at California and Main streets as a CSU Channel Islands museum, and the classic 1920s Groene Building at Chestnut and Main (now the Watermark Restaurant) are on display, as is Ventura’s City Hall at the top of California Street.
Eucalyptus trees, native hummingbirds, woodpeckers, pelicans, a humpback whale, even Five Trees, which is now Two Trees on the foothills behind Ventura, are pictured. The Topa Topa Mountains preside over it all in the distance.
“With the terra cotta mural, I used a process of pen and ink drawing, which I enlarged to the mural’s actual size, then traced onto acetate. I burned a silk screen, like making a T-shirt, onto the actual terra cotta,” explained Kelly. It then went to the glazers for the ceramic glaze along with “a paint sheet of 40 colors for the glazers to follow.”
Kelly is a partner with Sean and Des McLean in California Pottery and Tile Works in south Los Angeles, although he lives and works out of his Ventura studio-home

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jeff Shelton and CPTW create architectural magic in Santa Barbara


Jeff Shelton’s fanciful designs include ceramics. How this imprinting worked its way into Shelton’s buildings, into his design aesthetic, can be glimpsed in his new courtyard at El Andaluz. From the Gaudí-like archway, fanciful details define the experience: Extensive handmade original tile work provide an Escher-like mind-buzz; sculptural raw metal encases the balconies; deeply hued pots by regional artists punctuate the curvy, sensual plaster walls. This friendly whimsy extends into the street, welcoming fellow Santa Barbarans to have a seat on a colorfully tiled bench or a refreshing drink at the water fountain.
Jeff has brought a whimsy , an appreciation for art and designs that relate to people. What Jeff has done in Santa Barbara is to enlighten it with a sense of freedom, shifting the dialogue while staying within the vernacular, much like Gaudí did in Barcelona. California Potteries and Tile Works hand made thousands of shelton Designed ceramics for the El Andaluz Project on Chapala Street in Santa Barbara. CPTW manufactured architerctural ceramics for Jeff Shelton’s Ablitt House in Santa Barbara. Including four stories of staircase wainscoting, the kitchen, niches, and the elaborate garage and entry way. This project received thenational Spectrum Award in 2007 for the best use of ceramics in architecture.

View the larger gallery HERE.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mayor Christy Weir Honors Michael Kelly with January 2009 Beautify Ventura Award

City Of Ventura News Realese, Jan. 22, 2009
Contact: Mayor’s Office, 805-654-7827
Anne Hallock, 805-658-4739


Mayor Christy Weir will honor
California Pottery and Tile Works(CPTW) owner Michael Kelly with the Beautify Ventura Award during the next City Council meeting Monday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 501 Poli Street. Kelly will be recognized for his efforts to aesthetically enhance the city of Ventura, particularly his creation of tile facades on historic buildings in the downtown cultural district. “Michael’s craftsmanship is a rare gift to our community,” said Mayor Weir. “His tile work is designed with a timeless quality, and will continue to grace our public spaces for many decades. We are so grateful to have his work beautify Ventura.” Kelly coowns California Pottery and Tile Works along with Sean Mclean and Desmond Mclean, a local firm that follows the Malibu and Catalina Potteries tile making and decoration tradition perfected in the early 20th century. CPTW serves private and commercial clientele. Kelly is a European-trained oil paint fine artist, and an expert in fine art ceramic production. Before joining the Ventura community in 1992, Kelly honed his craft as a fine artist, designer and handmade ceramicist across the globe, including a 12-year stint in Latin America under Mexican master Rufino Tamayo. In Ventura, Kelly’s work can be seen on the facade of the Star Lounge, the facade of the Jersey Mike’s building, which was the original Ventura Post Office, the facade of the Red Brick Gallery, the Hobson Heights monument signs, Cafe Fiore, the Park Avenue town houses, and Westside Cellars. He recently completed restoration of the facade of the newly opened Watermark Restaurant. “I’m so pleased to receive the Beautify Ventura Award. My company and I never compromise quality. We only involve ourselves in projects that combine the high concept goals of the client and our ability to execute a higher quality of product,” said Kelly. “I would not be able to do what I do without the patronage and inspiration of those who take the risk to go the extra mile in this town, individuals who risk their money to give back to the City and make it possible to create historical beauty.Those people include Kelly Briglio, Jimmy Mesa, Mark Hartley, Dan Frederickson and Maria Fiore.” Next up in Ventura, CPTW will install a historical mural in a new building downtown. He also has installations upcoming at the Santa Barbara Zoo, Music Academy of the West in Montecito, and the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Las Palmas Mural

From Ventura Breeze
Vol. 2, No. 22
Wednesday, August 12, 2009by Joseph Owen

Michael Kelly and California Pottery and Tile Works were commissioned by the owners of 60 California St., Dan Frederickson and his wife, Cicie, to create a public art piece for their new building. Something, Kelly said, that was not required by the city of the owners, but was something the Fredericksonʼs wanted to give to the City of Ventura. Mural commissioned as a gift to the City of Ventura Kelly says he wanted the mural to represent historical Ventura and the resulting artwork is a beautiful collage of both past and present Ventura measuring 7ʼ X 14ʼ using ceramic tiles that average approximately 6” x 6”in size. The actual style of the mural is referred to as Spanish Revival, a very popular stylein Southern California during the 1920’s.
The creation of the mural was a multi step process worked out over a course of about 5 months and starting with the artist sketching the original drawing. Once he was satisfied, the drawing was blown up to final size and transferred to the bisque (pre-fired) tiles. Then, using a
complicated silk screening method, the glaze colors are added and the whole piece is fired in a kiln. The actual firing and glazing work done on the mural was conducted at California Pottery and Tile Works in Los Angeles,a company specializing in fine art architectural ceramics and where Kelly is a VP/owner and is partners with Sean Mclean and Desmond Mclean who began the pottery 14years ago. Kelly has an art studio located in Ventura, where he has also made his home since 1992. Artist Kelly has been a professional artist and musician for over 40years, first studying music and fine art oil painting in Europe,then mentoring under Mexican ceramic master, Rufino Tamayo, in Latin America.Kelly’s ceramic work can be viewed all over downtown Ventura, specifically on the façade of the new Watermark Restaurant, Jersey Mike Sub’s building, Ventura Post Office, Café Fiore, and the Red Brick Gallery to just name a few. Kelly was recently honored by the City of Ventura for the wonderful tile work that graces our downtown. His recent work on the Ablitt Tower House located in Santa Barbara has received national recognition. Ventura is truly fortunate to have such a remarkable craftsman residing right here in our fair city.