Tile with Style at the MN Tile Festival

When I go to someone’s house, I always notice the tile—the colorful backsplash in the kitchen, the curved wall around the side of the tub, the stately fireplace surround, the funky bathroom floor, the eye-catching wall behind the bar. I love that there are so many different ways to make a statement with tile, and so many different types of tile materials to use (ceramic, quarry, stone). When it’s done right, it truly is a work of art.

When I heard there was a Minnesota Tile Festival, produced by the Handmade Tile Association, I was intrigued. What’s that you say? A free festival showcasing the works of talented handmade tile and mosaic artisans from around the country, held at a local beautiful open-air venue on a sunny September Saturday? Sounds too good to be true.

But true it is. On this Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can visit the courtyard of the new American Swedish Institute and “Discover American Art Tile” (this year’s theme) at the 11th annual Minnesota Tile Festival. Meet the artisans, see demonstrations of the creative process, buy one-of-a-kind art, and even create your own tile or mosaic.

Activities include a drawing (win $125 toward participating art vendors’ merchandise), a Project Runway Tile Fashion Show, complete with fashion-forward tile art clothing and accessories created by local designers, and presentations by guest speakers Susan Frame, artistic director of Accent Elegance, and award-winning interior designer Jaque Bethke. Help transform a regular car into a crazy tiled “art car,” stay for the awards presentation, and feel free to ask questions about tile installation (tile setters from the National Tile Contractors Association will be on-hand).

Who knows, maybe this will be just the inspiration I need to finally replace our outdated kitchen backsplash, or work on that mosaic table I’ve been meaning to finish for the past 10 years.

The Handmade Tile Association, based in Minnesota, is one of the nation’s premier tile artist collectives. For more information, visit handmadetileassociation.org.