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.”

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Josh Blanc is shown making Medieval Floral tiles, one of his first designs. The center is impressed with a vintage button.

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.”

A kitchen backsplash in varying greens picks up a rhythmic quality from different tile sizes, enhanced by a custom strip of small, bright-colored tiles.

A kitchen backsplash in varying greens picks up a rhythmic quality from different tile sizes, enhanced by a custom strip of small, bright-colored tiles.

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.”

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Colors that resemble the edge of a volcanic hot spring appear in this Cosmic series tile.

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.

Field tiles in Pesto green on a fireplace are accented with geometric tiles in a Prairie School design.

Field tiles in Pesto green on a fireplace are accented with geometric tiles in a Prairie School design.

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.

Josh Blanc
Clay Squared to Infinity
Minneapolis, Minn.
(612) 781-6409
claysquared.com

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