Houston Llew Spiritiles
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- By Houston Llew
Houston Llew Spiritiles are not only gorgeous with an affordable entry price point but highly collectible and a great investment. Add to your collection today!
What are Spiritiles?
Spiritiles are artworks of glass fused to metal (copper), designed and made by hand at Houston Llew’s art studio in Atlanta, USA. Forged from storytelling, each Spiritile blends an enameled image with a complementing quote wrapped around the image sides.
What makes Spiritiles unique?
Houston Llew is the only maker of enameled collectible art tiles. Due to their handmade nature, each Spiritile created is unique. After painting finely-ground glass onto copper, the piece is fired in a kiln until fused, rolled with a pin to create hairline cracks - called “crazing” - and wrapped around a wooden frame.
What makes Spiritiles wall art?
Spiritiles can stand up on a flat surface or hang on a prized wall. At the back of the tile there is a circular hole in the frame so that the piece can be mounted onto a wall. Spiritiles are best shown in groups--they love company. Each tile is sized the same to mix and match for a collection that tells your story.
What makes Spiritiles Collectible?
Houston releases new collections every season and retires a series of Spiritiles at least twice a year. Some tiles are designed to be gifted; others collected. As the current collection evolves, retired Spiritiles regularly increase in value over time, based on their demand and rarity.
What makes Spiritiles meaningful?
Always drawn to stories that make you smile, think, and laugh, Houston designed Spiritiles to highlight stories in a way that gives you a window into their soul. The combination of image on the front and story on the sides creates a connection between two artistic mediums of the visual and literary and to the loved ones it calls to mind. This connection is powerful and lasting. Many Spiritiles become momentous gifts for weddings, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, or mementos of meaningful adventures while others represent emblems of loved ones’ spirits and memories.
Houston Llew Artist Statement:
Houston Llew is an artist of vitreous enameling, blending glass and copper to form luminescent works featuring a harmony of depictions and quotes that capture the meaningful moments of life. Each work is designed to tell a story. His works are all created by hand at the Houston Llew Studio in Atlanta by him and his team of apprentices, who create enameled art under his training, guidance, and design direction. Houston's preeminent works are called Spiritiles, found in significant collections in homes and galleries across North America.
Houston Llew Bio:
Houston started enameling in a hot Atlanta garage in 2008, after finding himself unemployed in the middle of the great recession and in need of an artistic medium of his talents. Through fortuitous circumstances, Houston met the master enamelist Zingaro and followed him around, shadowing the artist around his studio until he gave Houston the keys to enameling that would later evolve into his first work - Spiritiles. For months he spent every waking hour over a kiln, experimenting, sketching, living on only "ramen and beer." Houston says that the only reason his art exists today is because he had no other option - no job to fall back on, no security other than what he could create himself. This tenacity kept Houston going so that when one thing wouldn't work, he would step back, retool, and try a new path. Houston is infamous for "spitballing" ideas and trying seemingly crazy things just to see if they work. By harnessing that constant experimentation, his artistry evolved from enameled imagery to a combined image and story design. From the beginning, what pushed Houston forward was the uplifting thoughts and musings. This became the cornerstone of his work- create art that inspires, uplifts, and brings a hopeful connection to life.
Houston’s work in enameling is based on his belief that meaningful art is about emotion. Thus, every Spiritile created reflects a piece of our story. These icons stretch our memory and bring to mind the people we love, the things we cherish, and the passions we pursue. When collected, Spiritiles become a montage of moments that make us smile, laugh, remember, and dare to dream. When Houston first started his artistic journey, he sought a medium to animate this inspiration. Vitreous enamel, the art of glass heat-fused to metal, is as ancient as Mesopotamia, with infamous historical artworks in royal jewelry and imperial treasures. It is an illustrious but little-known medium that Houston cast in a new form. With its metallic base as canvas and its myriad glass colors as “paint”, what makes this work unique is the story wrapped around the sides of each piece. Some Spiritiles quote authors and poets, other philosophers and fellow artists, but every piece is designed to speak to our life and reach our emotive self.
How They Are Made:
Each Spiritile is crafted first by laying powdered glass, or “frit,” onto a perfectly cut copper canvas, using a series of stencils for each layer of color, playing cards, and hand sifters to carve out the design. Once delicately aligned and layered, the glass and metal is carefully placed in the red-hot kiln to keep the glass from shifting, and timing is of utmost importance. Once fired, the enameled piece is removed from the kiln and cooled under a planchet.
The natural “crazing marks” that occur in enamel increase the luminescence of the glass. By rolling a pin over the surface of each piece after cooling, the light refraction in the glass increases and the enamel becomes malleable enough to frame.
Discovering how to wrap enamel in three dimensions around a frame was one of Houston’s most significant design achievements. By using a thin sheet of copper and precisely aligning the glass edges, each Spiritile is molded and affixed to a solid wooden frame, wrapping the story, author, and Houston’s signature around the sides.
Enamel Care & Use:
CARE: Enamel artwork is best polished with household glass cleaner and a soft cloth.
DISPLAYING: These delicate yet durable artworks are made to last, resist fading, shine under light, and fire up a meaningful conversation. Spiritiles can stand up on a flat surface or hang on a prized wall. They can stand alone, but love company. Each piece is sized the same to mix and match for a collection that tells your story.
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