Thursday, August 12, 2010

Encaustic Tile

Recently, archaeologist Hernan Bustelo wrote to me to share some images of encaustic tiles he came across in St. Croix. Hernan is a tile enthusiast and co-author of Puerto Rico Tile Design, so he knows a great deal about tile. 

"I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to clarify the cement vs. encaustic thing," said Hernan. "Here are some pictures I made on the Island of St. Croix were you can clearly see the two types of clay, or slip, used to create the pattern in old encaustic tiles."
This gallery is in the Lutheran Parsonage, originally a single family home. The building is from the mid-18th century and the tiles could be that old as well. 

Here's a close up of some of the more intact encaustic tiles and the lovely pattern:

Here's an example of the more worn tiles:
You can see where the darker clay has deteriorated. Imagine how many feet have walked over these tiles in the past 250 years! Also, I'm curious as to whether these tiles were manufactured in the Caribbean or were carried over from Europe as ballast.

Thank you for the great images, Hernan. It's so interesting to see these beautiful remnants of an earlier (yet still relevant) design sensibility.