Decorative Ceramic Tile – The Art of Cuerda Seca


A Southern California native, Susanne Kibak Redfield grew up on a town rich in the red tile style of Spanish Revival architecture. Initially inspired by the ceramic tiles of Bjørn Wiinblad and the other Danish modern ceramics artists of the ’60s, Susanne fell in love with the ornamental treasures and tiles native to Malibu and Catalina. Based in Sisters, Oregon the creativity keeps flowing as Susanne is celebrated as one of the most prominent artisan tile designer in the industry. Susanne is renowned for her stunningly complex glazes, which are refreshingly welcomed in a world of mass-produced tiles. “I never knew it was in my blood though, until I started a tile factory in the 80’s and began hand painting tiles for a living. I still can’t get enough of the saturated, vibrant jewel tones” explains Susanne. Each glaze in her sophisticated color palette has been chosen for its singular quality, depth, and richness. These vivid colors are woven together in one tile to create a captivating product. Handcrafted excellence, attention to detail, and the desire for each job to be a masterpiece are the hallmarks of her work.

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All of Susanne’s tile lines are created and painted by hand, each individual unique, beautiful piece is a true work of art. Ms. Redfield uses a dry line technique on her decorative ceramic tile to separate her rich glazes, a method based on the centuries old *cuerda seca* technique. Each tile is carefully handled numerous times on its journey through the small Oregon based production studio. Applying the pattern using the dry line technique is the first step in the process, which then dries overnight before the glazes are hand-applied. After allowing the glazes to dry completely overnight, a six hour stint in the kiln fuses the glazes and dry line onto the tile for a beautiful and durable final product.

Cuerda seca (dry cord) is a time-honored method of applying colored glazes to decorative ceramic tile surfaces introduced in the beginning of the 14th century. In the cuerda seca process, thin bands of waxy resist maintain color separation between glazes during firing, but leave behind “dry cords” of unglazed tile.

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