Dutch Master

Bird designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek
Bird designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek

Drawing and working with clay led Frauwein Soenveld, perhaps inevitably, to tiles. Since 1970 working from Atelier Het Blauwe Hek (The Blue Fence Workshop) she has become one of the world’s foremost tile artists, designing and producing hand-made tiles and tile tableaux.

Born in 1944, Soenveld now sees clay as her drawing paper.  She does not use industrial pressed tiles, but rather red-fired chamot clay. Her work is notable for its use of colour and design. Her tiles are instantly recognizable: a contemporary face to the artisan tile making tradition.

Animal designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek
Animal designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek

Soenveld’s tiles vary in size and the design can be on a single tile, or carried across multiple tiles. The tiles are also suitable for outdoor use. Today her work is exhibited and sold in galleries and museums, has won many awards, and she also undertakes a number of large commissioned projects.

Costume designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek
Costume designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek

One unusual creative inspiration is the history and rich tradition of Dutch costumes. An intensive study of this subject resulted in a series of styled carpets on tile that fuse simple design with complex detail.

Insect designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek
Insect designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek

Soenveld’s tile collections can be divided into Insekten (insects), Bloemen (flowers), Dieren (animals), Vogels (birds) and Viertjes (celebrations). In addition she produces metal and ceramic sculptures, as well as tiles inspired by national costumes from The Netherlands, Germany and other countries; plus some striking Portuguese and Spanish inspired tiles.

Portuguese designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek
Portuguese designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek

Soenveld describes her working methods as: “This is hand-made ceramics. The still wet clay is used as ‘paper’, where lines are drawn. The lines, figures and models that are created do not depend on the size and size of the tile. However, shape, colour and size must be in harmony. I use red chamotte clay, to keep red warm lines in my work.

Spanish designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek
Spanish designs by Frauwein Soenveld, Atelier Het Blauwe Hek

The first fire (biscuit) is at 1,000oC degrees, while the second fire (glaze) is at 1,100oC degrees.  This makes my work suitable for indoor or outdoor use.”

Atelier Het Blauwe Hek  eigenwijzetegels.nl

Netherlands Department of Ceramics  nvk-keramiek.nl

The Cultural Round, Wageningen  culturele-ronde.nl

The Dutch Tile Museum  nederlandstegelmuseum.nl

A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, May 2017.

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