Best Handmade Tile, November 2005
The only machines in the Long Beach shop of Ken Mason Tile are 45 kilns. The rest of the work is unmistakably hand-done. No two crackled glazes are alike, nor does one fleur-de-lis look like another. Mosaic pieces are hand-cut from larger tiles, leaving sharp edges that produce shimmering facets. Each year the shop presses 1,000 tons of Sacramento River clay into 300 one-of-a-kind molds, making 2.5 million tiles—from genuine raku (the venerable Korean art of coaxing metallic finishes) to terra-cotta. Don’t like an existing design? Suggest your own. Even an old buffalo nickel can be rendered in platinum and silver if you’ve got the time and inclination.