The satisfaction comes through the use of every part of oneself, hand and eye, brain and intuition, and through being always in contact with natural materials and the power of earth, air, fire and water. … It is, in fact, a voyage of discovery into the very heart of things. How lucky we are.

Marianne de Trey
Dartington ceramicist

About the Tiles

Alchemy Tiles brings back to life the thousand year old craft of inlay tiles or encaustic as it's technically known as. Each tile is individually carved free hand with inspiring poetry, quotes and images.

The technique of inlay tiles goes back so far that they are unable to trace its true origin but the technique really came into its own during the 13th Century. When rulers and kings weren’t fighting each other they were glorifying themselves in palaces, churches and temples and what better way than to use a technique that would last centuries. 

Mel was trained in the techniques by Iris Milward of Poetry Tiles just before she retired in 2013. Mel has gone on not only to continue the ancient technique but to develop it further in new colours, designs and specialising in bespoke kitchens, bathrooms and fire places.

Any shape, space, size and design can be tailored for from individual tiles to large areas like kitchens, bathrooms and fireplaces.

Due to the intricate and multiple processes no tile can be replicated making each one bespoke, unique and held eternally in earth and time.

About the Artist

Mel Chambers is a self-taught artist based on the beautiful Helford River near Falmouth in Cornwall. As well as being the creator of Alchemy Tiles, she is also a painter, a sculptress, and former Partner at Studio 45, a community pottery studio that was based on the Dartington Estate in Devon.

She has worked alongside some inspiring mentors in Devon including Richenda Macgregor (The Potting Shed & Studio 45) and Iris Milward (Poetry Tiles). Combined with her background in business, permaculture, teaching, and presenting, she has developed as an artist and sculptress in her own right and travels extensively to shows and galleries across the UK.

Inspired by her surroundings and a keen conservationist for the ocean and the environment, Mel’s work is carried out as ethically and sustainably as possible. She brings to life the beauty of poetry, inspiring quotes and images of all the magic that surrounds us. Her work portrays not only the beauty of the wild but also that which surrounds us daily, including the animals and beings that share our everyday lives and are closest to our hearts.

She is also very proud to be part of the Made in Cornwall Scheme. After rigorous testing by trading standards, she achieved top marks and is part of an amazing and talented group of Cornish artisans creating genuine Cornish products.

My Journey Before I Came To Be In Your Hands

I have been rolled and my shape cut by hand

Then using ancient techniques from far across lands,

My image and script hand carved in wet clay

With wisdom and poetry to inspire you each day.

Four different colours of clay then applied

To fill in those carvings and then left to dry.

Then to be scraped and my design now revealed

To be dried once again before I’m then sealed,

In a coating of glaze with a crackle for show

Then fired raw, so long and so slow.

So fragile and delicate at each stage I must be

Until I transform in the fires that embrace me

When I emerge, still warm to the touch

A stain is wiped over, a little, not much.

And then I am ready to be held in your hands

With magic and tales from far across lands.

Images, quotes and poetry sublime

All held eternal, in earth and in time.

THE SOURCE

Each tile is cut from a lump of clay, rolled out and turned three times, and then cut to size.

THE CARVING

The script and images are then individually hand carved into the wet clay free hand.

THE INLAY

Four different shades of colour slips (runny clay with oxides and stains added to it) are then inlaid into the carved areas. Each colour has its own unique handmade recipe using a combination of oxides and stains.

THE REVEALING

Once the slip dries, the top layer is scraped back with a special metal tool to reveal the image and script underneath.

THE GLAZING

Once the slip dries, the top layer is scraped back with a special metal tool to reveal the image and script underneath.

THE STAINING

After three days when it comes out of the kiln, an ink stain is washed over the tile and then wiped off to highlight the crackle glaze.