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Custom art tile, meet fine wood furniture.

There is a new trend in home decor, and it puts the power in the customer's hands.

Posted in Home Decorating over 11 years ago, 0 replies

Unprecedented and new trend in home décor: custom art tile, meet fine wood furniture.

The customized art tile and custom tile mural industry has long been a victim of its own shortsightedness. Customized imaging, a process with which you press images on tiles using a heat press, specially coated tiles and special dyes, has generally remained in the realm of Aunt Ethel’s photo on a tile (“We Love You Aunt Ethel!”) or the local football team on a tile mural.  The process itself is rarely used for fine art. More often, you’ll see it used for cheap key chains, coffee mugs or award plaques.

There is a reason for this. Since any artist or photographer can print their own work on tile using this process, those who sell custom imaged tile and related substrates are generally not artists. They are hopeful businesspeople who buy heat presses, take the brief training course and become “tile mural experts” within a short period of time. The subtleties and skill required for quality tile creation, such as formidable digital art skills like designing from scratch, retouching, airbrushing, cropping, etc., are the exception rather than the rule.  These tile mural companies popping up every day have, for the most part, based their business model not on artistic skill, but on cutting price. Custom imaging is a fine art form—from the design process to the printing to the pressing, and everything in-between. When my husband and I opened Color Bakery (www.colorbakery.com), we were intent on changing that tradition. Our numerous galleries of original art in many different genres—impressionism, stained glass, pop art, vintage art, dreamscape art, custom patterns, inspirational art, etc—have succeeded in giving art appreciating tile mural customers a serious selection from which to choose, not to mention the unheard of option of custom, from-scratch design.

This is not to say you can’t purchase fine art on non-kilned, non-hand painted tile. You can, but your choices are limited, and most art tile mural places have the same art: the requisite Van Gogh’s, DaVinci’s, and more fruit baskets, vases and Tuscany-style wine and cheese scenes than you can count. Not only can you easily purchase a readily available public domain masterwork on tile, or a nice photo of a flower, but, with very few exceptions, one of them Color Bakery, original fine art on heat pressed tile remains an elusive commodity.

What has also remained elusive was putting that custom imaged tile on fine wood furniture.  That option has never existed, because the very few available furniture pieces that are created to receive tile are unexceptional and hardly high end. The wells routed out to receive the tile are never sized properly, often forcing the use of grout to awkwardly fill huge gaps on the sides. On the retail store side, tile furniture has remained in the realm of a Target or Wal-Mart as low end, metal patio furniture.  We decided to do something about that, too. That’s why we opened The Painted Forest (www.thepaintedforest.com)

The Painted Forest is an exquisitely beautiful marriage between custom art tile and fine, hand-carved wood furniture. It’s an unprecedented joining of two heretofore separate arenas. Further, it offers a ground-breaking concept: let the customer design their own fine furniture down to the leg, frame and cockbead, stain, finish and embedded art tile.  From hand-carved armoires to luscious end tables to heirloom-worthy coffee tables, The Painted Forest has succeeded in taking both tile and fine furniture to a brand new level, something only fine art custom imaged tile could have achieved.

As far as Aunt Ethel goes, there are always going to be hundreds of people who can slap her photo on a tile. But the China Cabinet it’s displayed on---the one with the art nouveau stained glass embedded in the cabinet doors--- is a different story altogether.

Mindy Sommers
Color Bakery
The Painted Forest


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