Unwind and enjoy coloring in different tile patterns with this free e-coloring book
Tiles have been around for thousands of years. In fact, their origins date back to the 27th century BC in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia (a historical region that today would include most of Iraq and Kuwait, as well as eastern parts of Syria).
In this post, we look back on the history of tiles and share a free e-coloring book filled with Portuguese tile patterns, created by studio Gazete Azulejos (@gazeteazulejos).
Saving the historic tiles of Portugal
Gazete Azulejos is a studio run by Spanish graphic designer Alba Plaza and Portuguese culture producer Marisa Ferreira. In 2016, they launched "Os Azulejos do Porto", a non-profit project cataloging all of the tiles in Porto, which is the city where they live.
This project soon took off and became their main focus. Realizing this art was in danger of becoming extinct, the two creatives launched Gazete Azulejos, and began painting replicas of tiles for facades, interiors, and wooden boards, in addition to hosting workshops.
As Alba and Marisa explain in this Domestika Diary, “all our tiles are based on heritage patterns manufactured in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries”.
An important part of this duo’s work involves documenting Porto's tiles, cataloging the different examples they find in old buildings that are being renovated or where construction work is underway.
Alba explains that facades often get damaged in the process, and one-of-a-kind tile patterns can get lost. “Many people have no idea that this heritage is being destroyed,” she says.
What does the word "azulejo" mean and when did tiles first appear in Europe?
“Azulejo” is both the Spanish and Portuguese word for tile. It comes from the Arabic term “azzellj”, which means "small polished stone". Tiles were first used in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia around the 27th century B.C., however, they were not introduced to Europe until the 7th century, when Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula. They became especially popular in Spain, the Netherlands, and Portugal.
Although tiles would be used in Europe from this moment on, several centuries would pass before they would become a source of Portuguese pride. Today, they are considered part of the country’s cultural heritage.
In the beginning, due to them being handcrafted and expensive to produce, tiles were seen as status symbols. However, after an earthquake devastated Lisbon in 1755, tiles became fundamental material in the reconstruction of the city. It was at this time that large-scale production began and the tile began to spread.
The Aesthetics of Portuguese Tiles
At the end of the 15th century, the famous Italian potter Francisco Niculoso settled in Seville, bringing the “majolica technique” to the peninsula, marking a key moment in the history of Portuguese tiles. This technique is still one of the most popular today.
This glazing technique allowed artists to paint directly onto the tile. Its arrival, along with the arrival of other masters, would see painting patterns start to blend and begin to acquire Gothic style influences. This combination would soon become a style in its own right.
When Spain invaded Portugal at the beginning of the 17th century, the production of tiles with their own unique characteristics ceased. However, this industry came back stronger than ever after 1668, the year that the Iberian union was brought to an end. Portuguese potters began to include Eastern influences, such as the patterns see on Indian textiles and Japanese porcelain, in their tile designs.
At that time, Portugal dug deeper while searching for its own identity and modified motifs and patterns that stood out when compared to more traditional designs. This was when Albarrada was born, a style still popular today all over the world. Tiles fit together to form an image of a vase, usually with identical figures on each side, so that the design is symmetrical.
But how did tiles become so popular around the world?
Whatever the type or wherever they come from, tiles have become a key element in the architectural styles of lots of different cultures, being used in different yet equally masterful ways.
Tiles are much more than a functional material, they are an artistic expression that survives in Brazilian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch people’s collective memories, as well as many others.
Watch the video below to discover how tiles conquered the world.
Color in different patterns!
Be transported to the streets of Porto without even leaving your home and discover different Portuguese tile patterns with this exclusive e-coloring book, created by Gazete Azulejos for children and adults.
Use colored pencils, watercolors, tempera, markers... whatever you want. The choice is yours and the final result depends entirely on what you’re feeling. Start coloring now and enjoy!
To download this file, please click on the box below. You’ll find a .zip file in your Downloads folder. We suggest you download it on your computer and not on your mobile. Then you must use free software like winzip to open the file and find the Portuguese tile patterns for coloring e-book, by Gazete Azulejos.
The e-book will be available to download until July 3, 2021. If, after that date, you would like to learn more about the world of Portuguese tiles, you can do so by signing up for our online course Design and Create Portuguese Ceramic Tiles, in which Alba and Marisa will teach you how to create your own unique tiles by hand using clay modeling and traditional painting techniques.
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