Monday, May 15, 2006

New Orleans Street Tiles

I often get contacted about the New Orleans Street Tiles because I use the design elements in some art and some T-shirts. I also have made some similar ceramic tiles based on the orginals I sell on the web that can be used decoratively. A lot of people want the original tiles so they can spell out their names with them in their home. Several artists do stylized paintings and signs mostly out of hardboard and acrylic. My ceramic tiles are made with a heat transfer process and are suitable for decorative purposes. The orginal old tiles used for street names are very durable. They are called 'Encaustic tiles'. Encaustic tiles are unglazed, the design is not painted on with dyes or minerals, but dry or dust pressed from clays. Most ceramic tiles are surface decorated by painting or embossed designs created by a mold. Encaustic tiles are stronger in that their designs are inlaid and baked in the tile. The original tile company, believed to be The American Encaustic Tile Company of Ohio and New York was in operation from 1875 until 1935, closing with the depression. Several art tile companies do make decorative tiles now and a local ceramic shop hand paints letters on tile blanks the size of the originals and fires them. Most are not encaustic tiles but painted ceramic tiles that do not wear as long. There is a Spanish company that still makes similar blue lettered tiles but I do not know what company imports them now.

Victoria, B.C. also has tiles on the sidewalks but reverse colors, white letters with blue backgrounds made for them by the same tile company. They still have a few in stock but also ask contractors to save the tiles when work is done. They too have different leads in trying to get duplicates and say craftsmen now charge up to $100 for one duplicate tile. The process is time consuming and for just one tile it is costly. France still has homes with tile floors made in the same manner that look as good as new. I have replica tiles made from a heat transfer methodand the big street name tile murals can add in your name to personalize them to at extra costs.
Here is a link to the New Orleans Street tile designs I sell on the web:

New Orleans Toulouse St Tile Mural

Blue Tile Shirt

Blue Tile Shirt

Street Tiles

Blue Tile Sticker

You can have your name or street number made into a vinyl sticker that looks like the famous street tiles and can be put on your mail box.

Blue Tile Hat

There are hats, shirts, ceramic tiles, stickers, magnets, and buttons that can be personalized with whatever you want to look like the street tiles. Just ask via e-mail for the details.

Historical Quote from the New York Times in 1913-
"One of the most effective methods of designating streets that I have seen is that used in New Orleans. It consists of blue tiles four by six inches and three-quarter inch thick on each of which is a five-inch letter of the alphabet in white. . . . These not only present a neat appearance, but are large enough to be read without difficulty. -- Albert E. Davis of the Bronx, N.Y., in a Dec. 3, 1913, in a letter to the editor of The New York Times. "

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