Tag Archives: Doylestown PA

Tile Festival Last Weekend – A Few Photos

We were at the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA, last weekend for the annual Tile Fest. Held on the grounds of the Tile Works with Fonthill, the home of founder Henry Mercer, a few hundred yards away, the festival is an annual event featuring only tiles.

It takes place in two large tents. Attendees can see all kinds of tiles, from traditional work reminiscent of  Mercer’s tiles to contemporary work (like mine).

I like this show for the interesting crowd that attends and the pleasant and easy atmosphere of the show. The organizers even give the exhibitors a dinner on Saturday night. We sit outside and have a chance to talk with our fellow tile-makers. I’ve been doing this show for about ten years and by now I know many of the vendors. I really enjoy the social aspects of the show as much or more as the exhibiting of my work, and I am grateful to the Bucks County parks department and the Tile Works for how welcome they always make me feel.

Some photos.

Here I am on Saturday morning. I am wearing a T-shirt brought back for me by two friends who visited Tasmania – as the words outlining the animal say, it’s my token devil T-shirt! I have a tiny superstition for clothes I wear to shows – I like to choose something that has good associations for me or that I particularly like wearing, for good luck and happy feelings no matter how the show goes.

Tile Fest 2019 (2)

The inside of the tent. The last photo shows my table set-up and features my husband talking to a shopper.

And here is a little of the outside, showing the courtyard of the Tile Works building and of course, the very necessary funnel cake/sausage/fair food pit stop.

I’ve done several posts discussing this show and the Mercer complex of museums in Doylestown. You can search under “tile festival” on this blog or for last year’s event, look here and scroll down through the post until you see the info.

For information on the museums and/or Henry Chapman, look here. If you are ever in the area, I strongly urge a visit to all three sites – they are very close to one another (Fonthill and Tile Works are on the same grounds, the Mercer Museum a couple of miles away) and totally unique.

Next Weekend – Tile Festival at the Moravian Tile Works

Next up – one of my favorite shows. The 21st Annual Tile Festival at the Moravian Tile Works, Doylestown, PA, is scheduled for next weekend, May 18 (10 AM – 5 PM) and May 19 (10 AM – 4 PM).

This show features tiles of all kinds, and only tiles. And you don’t have to worry about the weather – it’s held under large tents that keep you safe from any weather worries with plenty of time to browse.

Here are some photos from past shows:



Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 25


Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art is out in the world.

As a note, I say in the post title that this week is ending on Friday, May 25 – but I’m posting it on Thursday the 24th. I’ll be at a show, Mayfair, in Allentown, PA, all weekend, including Friday, and things close up at 8 o’clock each night – so, after we drive home and so on, well, no energy on Friday for a post! I will put the show info into next weeks’s Diary.

Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20 – We were at the Tile Fest all weekend – you saw the set up on Friday. Here’s a little wrap up.

Saturday was a miserable day, weather-wise. It rained all day, and much of it came in downpours that pounded the tent roof. It was also chilly and really just…miserable uncomfortable.

I made one trip to the bathroom through the rain and came back soaked; I had to change my shoes and socks (Note: always take extra clothes to a show. Always). Since we have had a lot of rain recently, the ground is saturated and the water ran down the hill through the tent when the deluge got heavier (you see the straw put on the ground to soak up mud). You also can see everyone wearing coats and long pants. Show attendance was light and sales followed suit.

Two bright spots. All of us vendors are friendly with each other, having come to this show for years, and newcomers get gathered right in. We support each other and make jokes about the weather and so on. It helps.

Number two – the show organizers have the tradition of putting on a really nice dinner on Saturday night – this year we ate inside the Tiles Works building. It allows us to relax and talk to fellow vendors, and the food is always good. We all really appreciate this consideration, and this year it cheered us all up after a pretty long day.

Sunday, the weather really improved! Sunny and about eighty degrees.

I’m showing you the bathroom building. It’s made of concrete, like the Tile Works and Fonthill, Henry Mercer’s home, which is a short walk away. Anyway, it’s like a little cave of a building, and it always makes me laugh.

AD 5-20 #1

Attendance was better on Sunday and we were all more comfortable.

But I think the show’s momentum, for me, and for others, too, never really recovered. I believe that Saturday is generally a more active and buying day, and we lost that with the weather. I’ve had better sales years, but, overall, I was satisfied. Plus, I stress, this show means a lot to me in meeting fellow tile makers, renewing friendships, and just being in a show where people care about each other.

When it was time to pack up, we did so, and got on the road home. The orange cooler is the marker for where we spent the weekend.

AD 5-20 #6

Monday, May 21 – How this week will go is an unknown for me – I’ll be getting over being gone all this last weekend and then getting ready for the long show coming up. Here is a postcard I made and sent last week. The story is, my friend Steve sent me the card with a space drawn in it, saying – Make art here. So I did, and then I kept on going. I sent the card back to him last week but I thought I’d show it (hoping it has made it to his house by now!)

AD 5-21 #1

I used to exchange a lot of mail art. Not much now, but I see it happening again in my future. And, if you happen to read this and want to send me something, I will send back, yes I will.

Tuesday, May 22 – Odds and ends and then some inspiration. That was today.

First, I took some tiles I had set aside from the show. Let me explain – there is nothing wrong with these tiles. I like them ok. But seeing them in my display, well, I just wasn’t loving them, and I don’t like to exhibit or sell things I don’t love.

Sometimes people buy these things before I remove them, that’s ok. People often like pieces that I don’t, because my attitude toward a piece is not necessarily how “good” I think it is. It’s hard to explain my criteria, let’s leave it at that.

Once I’ve decided an item is not up to par, it is doomed, in its present state. If it’s a painting, well, it may get a remake or be entirely obliterated for a new start. Tiles, not so easy. They are what they are.

Anyway, I pulled these out, marked out my name on the back, gave them new names, and voila! Art to be left out somewhere in the world. I think I always knew I was making these items for this purpose, and trying to sell them never felt right. OK. Rebalancing things.

Note: I like that flower tile a lot, but, it is the last one of a group, and they never get the attention they deserve in a show. As take-away art, they are on stage alone – the star.

I’ve also been itching to paint, and I’ve had the idea of making something big and colorful and abstract. No theme, no idea, just paint and see what goes. I got hold of the largest board I have right now, 24″ x 20″ (wish it had been twice that size, a size I never do, but somehow that idea appealed to me…but anyway, this is what was on hand).

I gessoed it black. And I also pulled out some of those 6″ x 6″ squares to use up extra paint (I anticipated a frenzy of painting, you can see). I chose 2 each of black and white gesso.

AD 5-22 #4

All right. Here is what I ended up with at the end of the afternoon. The large painting:

The small ones.

OK, I feel better now. I’ll let these sit and see what happens next to them.

Last thing today – I  have this page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook to work on, if I want to, maybe tonight while I watch TV. It is certainly a conglomeration hoping to cohere…

AD 5-22 #5

Wednesday, May 23 – I worked some more on this painting. I think it is close to being finished, that’s what I said at the end of the afternoon.

AD 5-23 #2

I also arranged some more of those 6″ x 6″ small boards on my table, two gessoed white, two black. This time I painted random colors and shapes on the surfaces, the same for each color, two different sets. Take a look.

Now you see what a difference the gesso color makes. With the white, I will need to do more layers just to cover the white. The black, different story, the color is richer from the start. I have the feeling I will be using this black gesso a lot.

Later I’ll do something with these boards. For now, I was just wondering what the results would be.

I finished this page in my current Large artist sketchbook. I have been hanging on to this page for some time. Done! Now I have only one more page left in this book. What do you know about that. I was surprised myself.


AD 5-23 #1

Later in the evening, I had the larger painting upstairs for me to study, and suddenly I had to do some more work to it. Here it is:

AD 5-23 #5

I think this painting is done. Or maybe not. In any case, done enough for me to paint its edges and take it to the show tomorrow? Yes, I think so. Now I’ll stop writing and get that little task done – plus load the car and so on for tomorrow. Thank you for reading.


OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

Moravian Tile Festival Next Weekend, May 19-20

Yes, it is time for this event once again – a whole show devoted only to tiles and tile work. It’s a favorite of mine, and I’ve posted about it over several years – if you search this blog (use the term tile festival) you’ll get a flavor of what it is about.


You can easily spend the whole day here – there is a wide variety of work to look at. And – the show is held under large tents, so weather is not a factor.

If you are in the neighborhood of Doylestown, PA, stop in and see me!

Clay tile 2 x 2 5-18 Group 2

Tile Festival 2017 – Now a Nice Memory…

We spent the past weekend at the Tile Festival on the grounds of Fonthill/Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA. Held every year, this show celebrates tiles. All kinds, but only tiles!

For information on the site, you can look up Henry Chapman Mercer on your own, but as a quick bit of background, he is the man who built the concrete house (Fonthill) and established the tile works. His life was dedicated to several things, among them being the preservation of implements and objects of pre-industrial everyday life, and making tiles. The tile works continues to produce tiles according to his designs and in a handmade manner. The house is Mercer’s interests all in one place. Both are open for tours and are worth seeing if you are ever in the area.

So you can see why the Tile Festival is held at this location. It’s an annual event and draws a devoted crowd of people who appreciate and like and love tiles! As a tile artist, it means a lot to me to have the appreciation I get for my work at this show. And I also am honored to be part of the group of tile artists in this show.

OK, I’ll get to the actual event. We set up on Friday afternoon, a blazing hot day. By Saturday morning, though, the weather had turned chilly and rainy.

We were able to come in and relax until the show started, but others were setting up.

Here are Joe (in the booth) and Sheila of the Tile Heritage Foundation. This organization is dedicated to research and preservation of ceramic and tile surface. I enjoy talking to them each year.


In the next picture, you see what art shows run on – coffee and dougnuts. And it’s great when the show organizers have some ready for you. This show also puts on a dinner for all the tile artists on Saturday night. We sit outside the tile works building and socialize. It is a great chance to talk to people – not something you get to do much of during the show, when we’re all busy.

Our tables were set in the middle of the second tent. I’ve had this same space for several years and I love it.

Some of my neighbors’ work:

On Sunday, the weather was still cool but the sky had turned a lovely blue.

I checked out the silent auction at the entrance gate: planters made by various artists in the show. I saw several I’d be happy to take home…

The show was very busy for me. Over the years, I have built up a group of people who look for me and my work; people come to this show year after year and they develop their favorites. As for me, the same thing happens. I have formed personal attachments to many customers and there was a lot of hugging and catching up on things. Several friends also stopped by.

I reflected on this aspect of doing shows – the bonds that form with people. Not only customers who become acquaintances or friends, but also with the other artists. As we were getting ready to leave after packing up, we made the rounds of our neighbors, wishing them a safe journey home, reminding each other that we will meet here again in one year and hoping that the intervening months will be good ones. I have sold tiles in my booth surrounded by familiar faces at this show now for some years and as one artist said, we are like a family.

Nice idea. Have a family reunion and sell tiles. That is what we do here at the Tile Fest!

Tile Festival – May 20 and 21

It’s May, and that means it’s time for the annual Tile Festival held at the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA.

If you wonder what the show is all about, take a look at last year’s roundup here.

If you like tiles of any kind, this is the place for you. It’s also a very comfortable environment for a show – it’s held in large tents, so that no matter what the weather is, you can be comfortable while you look around.

The show card tells it all! If you are in the area I hope to see you. My booth is in the second tent, in the middle of the space.

Tile Fest side 1 small

From My Everyday Life

I’ve been interested in trees over the past months – can’t say why. They just interest me, that’s all I know.

Here are three paintings inspired by trees in scenes I know. They are all done in acrylics on panel.

This first tree is from my own back yard.


“Backyard Tree”, 8″x 8″, June, 2016.

This scene is from the Norristown Farm Park, a Montgomery County, PA, park not too far from my house.

"Farm Park Road", 8" x 8", June, 2016.

“Farm Park Road”, 8″ x 8″, June, 2016.

This image portrays the field in front of Fonthill, a museum and historic house in Doylestown, PA, about 45 minutes away from home.

"Tree and Row of Trees", 8" x 8", June, 2016.

“Tree and Row of Trees”, 8″ x 8″, June, 2016.

We Visit the Moravian Tile Works

My husband and I took advantage of a breezy sunny Sunday afternoon to visit the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA, on October 23. This combination museum/business/historic site was built in 1907-12 by Henry Chapman Mercer. It shares its site with Fonthill, Mercer’s home of the same vintage.

I won’t go into the history of the site or its founder – they are well-documented elsewhere. The important points are as follows:

1. Mercer created this tileworks as part of his efforts to maintain the craft of handmaking tiles. He designed the tiles and they were made by his workers in this building.

2. The building was purpose-built with a lot of thought about the manufacturing process. Remember that – it’s interesting to think about how such an enterprise would set itself up today.

3. The building, like Fonthill, was designed by Mercer and is built entirely of concrete. Yes, concrete.

4. I participate in the annual tile sale and show held here each May. Here’s a link if you would like to know more about that event. (And you’ll see some pictures of areas of the Tileworks that we didn’t visit today.)

5. I’ve never taken the tour of the Tileworks, though I’ve been through Fonthill several times and visited the Tileworks store, located in one wing of the building.

6. If you are in Doylestown, PA, take a day, yes, a day, and visit Fonthill, the Tileworks, and the Mercer Museum, another of Mercer’s creations. Doylestown is a nice town all on its own and there are plenty of good places to eat lunch.

All right, on to the visit! And I’ll apologize in advance for the photos’ quality – the building was dim and that affected some of the pictures.

The building is U-shaped and has two stories. We entered through the shop and then went on to a large room to see a tape about the Tileworks. The presentation was very informative and clearly explained the various tile-making processes done at the Tileworks. It may interest you to know that no new designs are produced here; everything remains as it was under Mercer’s operation, using the same forms and colors. So the people working here today are replicating the work done from the beginning of this operation, with modifications in equipment, in some cases.

Here’s a view of the room where we saw the tape. As a note, it is very reminiscent of Fonthill in its architecture and the array of objects and tiles all over the room.


From the introduction we went up to the second floor. This section is pretty much a museum exhibit now – it’s not where tile work is done today.

That brick protrusion to the left of the picture is the upper level of one of the old kilns (remember this when I show you downstairs). The racks are empty, but are meant for drying tiles.

We stepped out onto the balcony that runs all around the upper story. The overhang for the first level was intended to provide an outdoor working space. Today the area is hosting a pumpkin carving festival.

The chimneys vented the kilns and other heat-producers, such as stoves for warmth. They are my favorite feature of this building.

We went back inside and down to the ground floor. This area is where tiles are made. We talked to a craftsman about his work and watched him take clay, press it into the plaster mold, and set it aside to dry for a few minutes; he then pried it out and set it on a drying rack. This is the first stage of tile making; later they will be fired, glazed, and fired again before going on sale, or to an installation project. People still find these tiles desirable; they are attractive and very durable.

We took a quick trip to the cellar, which is where they store the bagged clay, ready for use. There is a dumb-waiter to lift it upstairs, which is good, because clay is heavy. Yes, it is.


We then made our way back toward the store and the exit. But, there was more to see – the kilns.

Now, they are not in use today. The Tileworks uses modern electric and gas kilns, in a part of the building we did not see. These huge kilns, though, are the originals. They were fired by coal. And, they are enormous. They go all the way through the ceiling, up to the roof of the second floor. A person can stand inside, easily. They were loaded through the door and the fuel fed on the side. I can only imagine how incredibly hot this area became during firings. And you can see why it’s good to have a fireproof concrete building around these structures.

We emerged from the building, quite impressed. It is truly amazing that the enterprise is still in business after 100 years (though with a break or two, between Mercer’s death and the county acquiring the place in the 1960’s) and still using many of the same techniques of its originator.

I wasn’t fond of the building as a workspace, though – I found it cramped and dark. Well, things were different when it was constructed; the needs and resources were handled in the context of the times. It’s very picturesque, though, and I certainly came away with respect for Mercer’s energy, willingness to experiment, and his desire to maintain and support the craft of traditional tile-making.

Tile Festival – May 14 and 15, 2016 –

I spent the weekend at the Tile Festival at the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA. The weather was blustery with rain passing through at times – we were wearing our winter coats. But the show was as pleasant to attend as always. Here are the tents set up next to the tile works.

Tile fest 2016 -1- small

And here is a view of the interior of my tent, before the show started.

Tile fest 2016 -5-small

A few pictures of my work on my display.

And the show with shoppers!

I so enjoy seeing the other vendors in this show. Many of them I have gotten to know over the years, and I always like to catch up. And, I always see new work and new faces as well. It’s really easy to become inspired in this atmosphere.

There is also a regular set of customers who attend the show each year. I enjoy showing them my new work and seeing what they think of it. Plus, once again, in many cases, I have gotten to know these repeat buyers a little and we have some nice conversations, about art and a lot of other things. It’s the kind of show where the artist really feels supported.


I also took some pictures of the Moravian Tile Works and Fonthill, two of the buildings created by Henry Chapman Mercer. I will not go too far into the history of them, since there are plenty of sources, but it’s worth reading up on this interesting man and his ideas. In looking at this pictures, what you need to know is that he wanted to protect and preserve processes or information about processes that were dying away as things became more industrialized – and that he didn’t mind trying things out for himself.

At the tile works, he developed clays and molds to make tiles that continues to this day; the same designs are available and being produced. Mercer tiles are in all kinds of buildings – one of the most notable collections being the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.

I walked over to the Tile Works building – a couple of doors were propped open and here’s what I saw:

The Tile Works building as well as Fonthill, Mercer’s home, are concrete buildings, poured in place. The Tile Works is a pretty straightforward looking place.

Fonthill is another matter. It is a short walk away from the Tile Works and looks out over a lovely green meadow.

And here is the building itself.

Quite a place, right? Tours are given; I’ve been several times. It’s impossible to describe. All I’ll say is, if you are in Doylestown, PA, it would be a shame to miss this complex. And if you are here in May, maybe you’ll happen upon the Tile Festival, too?

Tile Festival Coming Up!

Next Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15, I’ll be exhibiting at the Tile Festival at the Moravian Tile Works, Doylestown, PA.

I’ve done the show for several years and if you like tiles, this is the place to go – the show is totally devoted to tiles. Just tiles.

I’ll have my relief tile work on view as well as what I’ve been doing lately, colorful images on 6″ x 6″ tiles.

Clay tile - guys on a bus 3-16 6x6 small

Another thing – the entire show is held under large tents. Weather is of no consequence – you’ll be comfortable no matter what the skies bring us.

In addition to the Moravian Tile Works,  Fonthill, the home of tiles works founder Henry Chapman Mercer, is only a few steps away and a tour of that building is worth doing. Doylestown is also home to the Mercer Museum, another of Henry Chapman’s contributions; the Michener Museum; and a lot of good restaurants and shops. It’s easy to make a day or two outing here.

Here’s the show website: