Josh Blanc comes at tile making from more of a painter’s mindset than that of a ceramicist. He studied both subjects in college, then worked with a Minneapolis art-tile maker before striking out on his own, from his attic, in 1996. “The internet barely existed then, so the first thing I did was get a Yellow Pages ad. The next day I got a project.”
His company, Clay Squared to Infinity, has moved to ever larger quarters four times, most recently into a studio in the North Minneapolis arts district. The studio turns out art tile recognizably in the Arts & Crafts genre, yet designs are inventive, playful, and slightly imperfect. Early on, Blanc saw some of his initial installations and “realized that the things that weren’t perfect were way more interesting than the perfect ones.”
Happy accident is the premise behind his Cosmic tiles, a series where different glazes are applied to the tile and then fired. “I have an idea of what I’m trying to do, and then the glazes melt into each other, taking it to another dimension.”
The results include waves of color, circular halos like auras, and unexpected, saturated reds and blues. Cosmics are excellent accent tiles, as are Clay Squared’s decorative tiles. Many of these are created using patterns imprinted with such items as vintage buttons or wood-block stamps from Afghanistan or Indonesia.
A full-service tile shop, Clay Squared also stocks reproduction tile from late Victorian to Mid-Century Modern. Blanc no longer does custom replication but helps clients find what they need.