American polymer clay artist, Elizabeth Anjos, married a Portuguese and lived in Portugal for over 30 years. She also fell in love with the amazing cultural heritage of Portugal, in particular the centuries old azujelo ceramic tiles. These tin glazed ceramic tiles were used extensively in both interiors and exteriors of building from grand palaces, public buildings, churches and even ordinary houses. 

This husband and wife team's shop, Atrio, is now based in Pennsylvania. It celebrates this wonderful decorative art form through her beautifully crafted image transfer polymer clay work.  

Her hoop earrings are particularly gorgeous as the colorful tile inspired work is seen on either the inside or outside of the flat bottomed hoops. 

Elizabeth explained why she does not use real antique tiles  : 
In our description of each item, we try to call attention to the theft and destruction of antique Portuguese tiles. Even the tiles found in flea markets and antique stores were most likely stolen off a building during the night. We have seen entire home facades disappear during the night to thieves. Thankfully, Portugal just passed a law declaring this theft a crime. We can only hope that it will one day be enforced.

The polymer clay work is also much lighter than ceramic and allows the designer to create designs which would be impossible to do with real tiles. 

What a wonderful way to wear a piece of history!

Photograph by George Jansoone
Azulejo tiles in the former 18th century Convent of Beja, Portugal, now a museum

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM