“Earth, Fire, and Pride”
One of the things that has always appealed to me about this whole Internet venture is how small it makes the world at times. I often write about people in Europe or Asia, even Australia from time to time, and the interesting thing is that many of those products are easily available in the USA, with the amount of accessibility increasing every day. Imagine my surprise, then, when I recently came across the subject of today’s blog, because they’re located here in my own San Diego! But, as it is for so many companies these days, they happily ship their products around the country and the world! But for all the size of the company itself and the mind-boggling array of products, what they have here is still old world charm.
Actually, having lived in San Diego some thirty years now, I have often seen their products in various commercial places, restaurants mostly, and often admired their tile. Personally, I am unable to walk by custom furniture, kitchens, baths, or unusual tile of any stripe without poring over it to some extent.
And even though I’m a cabinetmaker, not a tile maker, I have to say that one of the products that most fascinates me is tile. Over the four years that I have been writing blogs for this site (800 and counting!), I have probably written on that one product more than any other. I don’t think there’s a home that would not benefit from a judicious application of tile, nor are there any inherently bad choices in tile, excepting only the humdrum that is used by the builders of tract homes. All of the original furnishing in such a home, including cabinetry and tile, are made on the cheap, and it shows. Because we woodworkers know what to look for, we definitely have a leg up when it comes to determining whether the kitchen cabinets are worth the candle, but I think all of us are tile aficionados to some extent. How can you tell if you’re looking at well-designed tile? Simple. Check your pulse rate! If you’re looking at blah, you may have wandered into my bathroom by mistake, but if you’re looking at one of those, “holy smokes, Gertrude, check this out” type tiles, then you may well be looking at something designed by Tierra y Fuego, and especially so, I think, if you’re in San Diego. But, as I hasten to add, Tierra y Fuego is available wherever you happen to live.
What I like about this company, apart from their wonderful designs, is their integrity. Part of their philosophy is present on their website where they state, “Nowadays when most of our surroundings are industrialized and homogenous; we take a different stand. Adhering to Old World traditions Tierra y Fuego tiles are handcrafted by skilled artisans that imprint their unique touch on each tile.”
Mostly, though, their integrity is on display with their products. Tiles, as I have many times pointed out, come in all sizes and shapes, also in all colors, even, for that matter, in a wide, wide range of materials. Tierra y Fuego, though, makes their tiles the way they have always been made in Mexico. They are made from clay dug out of the ground and fired to such an extent that the clay actually undergoes chemical changes and becomes permanently hard. Then we get to the good part! The tiles are glazed and decorated by hand; then they’re fired again, a process that adorns these tiles with the lively finish that is a trademark of Mexican tiles. The other thing I like about Mexican tiles is the shape of them. They’re not dead flat; they’re concave, and you can all but feel the hands of him who shaped them. As a San Diego citizen for so many years, I have, as I said, seen the products of Tierra y Fuego many times. I obviously can’t pry up a tile and look for a label, so how do I know? Simple. Tierra y Fuego Mexican tiles are “unique, irregular, functional, and expressive.” And like nobody else!
Tiles just like these have been in use in Mexico since the sixteenth century. Some years ago I spent three-and-a-half weeks driving through Mexico, and one of the things I vividly remember is how colorful it was throughout, a veritable riot of color, a good share of which came from their glorious tiles. It’s a large part of Mexico and, more and more these days, a large part of this city, this state, this nation. As more and more people see these tiles from Tierra y Fuego, more and more are availing themselves of a type of product that is becoming increasing rare these days: made by hand with flair, integrity, and pride. And earth and fire.
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