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What are Talavera Tiles?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Talavera tiles are ornately patterned, hand painted Spanish and Mexican clay tiles. Talavera tiles originate from the Spanish city of Talavera de la Reina. Talavera de la Reina was home to many potters and the intricate, graphic designs of the tiles come from the Arabic-Andalusian influence in ninth century Spain. Spanish potters moved to Puebla, Mexico in the 16th century and Talavera de la Reina's style of Talavera tiles became well known in Puebla.

Talavera tile factories became prevalent throughout Mexico in the 18th century. Puebla is still the home of traditional pottery workshops that craft traditional Talavera tiles. Traditional colors used in Talavera tiles are the primary colors of red, yellow, green and blue, with the blue usually being quite dark. Some Talavera tiles have a design only in blue on a cream or white background while other tiles are very ornate and use many colors. Rich browns and oranges are also found in many Talavera designs and deep blue outlining, borders and bands are quite prevalent.

Woman painting
Woman painting

The elaborate, detailed designs on many Talavera tiles include abstract symmetrical patterns as well as nature motifs. Birds, butterflies, sea life and fruits and vegetables are some of the common motifs found on Talavera tiles. Plain clay Talavera tiles with just a glaze of one color such as deep blue, golden brown or teal are also common. Some Talavera tiles are plain white or cream with just a thin band of color around the edges or a circle of color in the center of the tile.

House number Talavera tiles feature a number of the address on each tile and usually have an ornate border of leaves or other motif around the edges of the tile. Mural Talavera tiles allow a wall to be transformed into a work of art. Talavera tiles are often used in kitchens and bathrooms and beautifully patterned Talavera round and rectangular sinks are on the market. Talavera accessories such as switch plates and vases can also be found.

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