This tile project was made possible by a generous donation from local ceramic artist, Nanette Butler. After retiring from her tile business, Agape-Aloha Isle Tiles of Hawaii, Nanette decided to share everything from bisqued tiles, colorful glazes, kiln furniture and even shelving with our school.


Pictured above is the artist in her shop, surrounded by all of her vibrant artwork. Mahalo nui loa, Nanette, for providing us with such high quality ceramic supplies and this amazing opportunity!


The floral and plant designs for this project were inspired by the Garden Isle’s tropical foliage along with Art Nouveau style from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


The history of ceramic tile is ancient, involving utilitarian uses along with regional and cultural decorative styles that span the globe. Art Nouveau tiles happen to be one of my personal favorite styles that also was easily adapted for our Hawaiian plant designs.


After several practice thumbnail drawings in their sketchbooks, students selected a flower or plant of their choice for a final design. Some popular designs included plumeria, hibiscus, haleconia, lotus, orchids, monstera and taro.


Students imitated Art Nouveau style by simplifying shapes, integrating curvy “whiplash” lines, adding a border or frame and making their designs symmetrical. Before applying glaze, a thin layer of wax resist was applied to all lines to create a white outline. Finally, a minimum of 4 glaze colors were applied to all unwaxed surfaces before the final glaze firing.


Each student brought home an original tile that can serve a variety of purposes. It can be used to protect furniture from a hot serving dish or glass, or it might be incorporated into a tile wall or backsplash as a feature design. Some may simply want to display it on a shelf for aesthetic enjoyment.

Thanks to Nannette, we still have some leftover tiles that I plan on using for a more collaborative project in the near future. Maybe a tile mural for our classroom is on the horizon!


The collaborative design above was created by six ambitious eighth grade students who had some extra time in class. They worked out the overall “outer space” composition together, and then each glazed her own tile. This will be an inspirational example for next year’s project!

By Julia

6 thoughts on “Art Nouveau Tiles”
  1. What an absolute joy to view these fantastic tiles. What talent thes students have. One even got a beautiful red, violets the hardest of all.
    I don’t remember if I shared the old pic of my tiles & me with you? So will try to in this reply, separately.
    Again thanks so very much to for keeping me posted. I’m truly blessed and send you blessings…

  2. The art nouveau tiles project captured my attention first because I want to work with glaze again, and I just really like how it turns out in the end when your finished.
    This year I would like to work with clay again, and make some thing like the castles, because I just like working with clay and also I like to work with glaze because it will make the castle more cooler looking.

  3. I really like these projects because there are a lot of vibrant colors and I like the glossy effect that it has on it. I also really like the flower design.
    In this class I hope to learn how to draw more animated characters and people. I would also like to learn about the history behind famous composers.

  4. This was a really cool project! I liked how the curves on the side highlighted the pictures in the middle. I also liked how the glaze was so vibrant! My favorite was the far right of the 2nd row. I love how in the leaf, the colors just kind of blended into this really cool effect. It was awesome!

    This year I hope we can practice with the pottery wheels some more because I don’t think many people really got the hang of it and I want to try and make a cup or vase. I also would like to do pottery or some other type of clay creation because glazing is really fun!


  5. I really enjoyed doing this project last year! I thought art nouveau style was so cool and I’d love to do it again!

  6. I like this kind of art because I like painting with glaze and how it becomes smooth and shiny and different colors when it comes out of the kiln. I also like the border designs and patterns on the edges.

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