Where to buy the loveliest hand-painted tiles

For a truly individual decorative scheme, these artists are making beautiful hand-painted tiles that will embed art right into your walls

Hand-painted tiles are having a renaissance. Fired by influences as broad and deep as the poetry of Dylan Thomas or the novels of Virginia Woolf, Italian maiolica or 20th-century architecture, makers and artists are putting brush to clay to produce mini, earthen artworks.  Modernist, folkish, abstract or lyrical, the results – both decorative and practical - are anything but twee.  Here is our pick of who to commission.

Emily Mitchell

Combining fine slip decoration with delicate hand-painting, Norfolk-based ceramicist Emily Mitchell draws on historic pottery for ideas.  Blue and white tiles, adorned with sprightly floral motifs reflect her interest in Delft Ware and the table settings of 17th-century Holland.  Another source of inspiration is Staffordshire pottery: grinning pooches or beatific lambs painted with charm and delicacy on to smooth, cream or red glazes. emilymitchellstudio.co.uk| themerchantstable.co.uk


When Balineum’s founder Sarah Watson tells you that ‘clients can have almost any colour in any combination of tiles they want’ she is not exaggerating. From Brooklyn-based Wayne Pate’s abstractions to fellow UK artist Fee Greening’s fluttering seaweed motifs on pale, lustrous glazes, you can combine decorative tiles with cornices, trims or dado rails in a kaleidoscope of hues. One proviso: allow time to browse the wares, handmade in Stoke-on-Trent and Italy, which line the north London studio walls. balineum.co.uk

Katrin Moye

A love of literature and art history gives this Nottinghamshire-based maker’s work its singular wit – and personality. For interior designer Sarah Davies-Bennion she produced a tiled fire surround – the deep blue underglazes adorned with Dylan Thomas quotations, while Firmdale Hotels commissioned a set of seaweed-festooned tiles inspired by Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthousekatrinmoye.co.uk


Founder Sophie Caulfeild (hence the unusual spelling) collaborates with ceramicists in UK and Europe on her hand-painted designs.  Tube-lined tiles, the raised lines drawn on to surfaces using liquid clay combined with glossy pools of glaze are quintessentially British. The Portuguese favour stencilling; in Italy, motifs are applied free form and the colours vary from tile to tile. ‘Handpainting adds character and a richness of colour that just can’t be replicated with mass-produced tiles,’ says Sophie. feild.works

Amber Khokhar

Drawing on art-historical influences Amber Khokhar, based at Cockpit Studios in Deptford, London, reinterprets classical motifs in fresh, hand-mixed glazes. It might be a set of tiles inspired by Arts and Crafts luminary William de Morgan’s rose patterns or the delicate, trailing foliage of Ottoman Iznik ware. amberkhokhar.com

Mercedes Workman

When Tracey Emin spotted one of Mercedes’s ceramics she offered her a space at TKE – the Margate studio which is part of Emin’s foundation. It is easy to see why she did. Mercedes’s enthusiasm for her medium - ‘my inspiration is from the heart’ as she puts it – surfaces in engagingly figurative murals, featuring animals, people or places she holds dear ‘in my overactive mind’,  expressed in vigorous brush work.  ‘I hope to create something familiar and comforting, with an energy that’s easy to live with,’ says the artist who enjoys taking on domestic commission. Her solo show opens at TKE on the 16th June. mercedesworkman.com


Handmade Tiles on painted board, three sections, total 75 x 85 x 3.5 cm
Handmade Tiles on six painted plywood blocks, measuring 65 x 80 cm overall

Despite their contemporary feel, Caroline Egleston’s tiles – abstract shapes combine with warm colours for an effect best described as earthy Modernism - are based on the traditional Italian technique of maiolica which she mastered during a two-year course in Faenza, in Emilia-Romagna. Hampshire-based Caroline, whose clients include designers and architects, juxtaposes shapes, colours and textures – ‘like a collage’ –  for murals or splashbacks. piccolpasso.com

Matilda Moreton

Delft-inspired tiles with a painterly, modern feel are Matilda’s forte. What she values most is the spontaneity of the technique, originally developed to emulate costlier porcelain.  ‘Because you’re painting on to absorbent earthenware the pigment soaks in quickly – like a fresco – so you have to work briskly. The resulting squiggles and sploshes are what give it such charm.’  Collaborative commissions, for chimneypiece surrounds, splashbacks or murals, are encouraged. ‘I like it when clients ask for details that reflect their interests - favourite pets or rare roses in the garden.’ A tutor at Central St Martins, Matilda also runs Delft-tile painting workshops; the next one is on 8th July at The Merchant’s Table, Woodbridge, Suffolk. matildamoreton.com | themerchantstable.co.uk.

Atma Decorative Art

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Trained at Van Der Kelen-Logelain in Brussels – the Central St Martin’s of decorative painting -  Atma Decorative Art’s founder Magdalena Gordon can turn her hand to any paint effect you care to name. Her skills also stretch to faux tiled murals – paint, varnish and wax applied to directly on to plain tiles, to give the gleaming effect of the real thing.  ‘It’s not as durable as conventional tiles, but it opens up a whole array of possibilities,’ she says.  A recent commission for interior designer Lisa Burdus’s client– inspired by traditional blue and white Portuguese azulojos patterns -  is a case in point: ‘I was adding animals of sentimental value up until the last minute,’ she says. @magdagordon.