Bringing Glass Tile Out of the Bathroom

I know a good thing when I see it. A year ago, I was looking at the craft website, Etsy, when I spotted a colorful, well-crafted glass tile for sale. The tile was the creation of Dundas, Ontario, Canada decorative glass designer, Michelle Prosek. Michelle is proving that there’s an opportunity for decorative glass tiles to be used as public art.

Michelle’s most recent commission of 25 7- x7-inch tiles is for Miles Associates – an Oklahoma City architectural firm that is working on a focal wall for the waiting room at the OU Medical Center Edmond – OB Department.

Pair that collection with a just completed 27 10-x10-inch tile installation for the Boston Children’s Hospital – main waiting area in the brand new Neurology Wing, and it’s clear that the architecture and interior design communities are beginning to recognize Michelle‘s design talent.

I wanted to learn more about Michelle and her design work and recently had the opportunity to talk with her.

Patricia: How did you get started as a tile maker?

Michelle: I started out as a jewelry artist and eventually found the size of the work restrictive to what I really wanted to do. Even though I branched out to create larger sculptural works I found that in the end, I needed something more. Turns out it was a larger canvas!

Patricia: Where do you get your design inspiration?

Michelle: My designs are all inspired by nature and other things I am passionate about. I love the outdoors, and I think it really shows in my work, along with my appreciation for very clean and defined design. Together, those two things lead to images that translate very well to my kiln-blown glass technique, which requires a certain boldness of design in order to produce the blown-out textured effect.

Patricia: You seem to be doing more commercial work these days. Is that intentional?

Michelle: After developing the technique for my tiles, I’ve been learning a lot about where and why they sell. They look so good in groups, but most people can’t afford a large collection. I’m working on marketing toward architectural firms and interior designers as a way to get my work set up as public art, which allows so many more people to see and enjoy it. This year has proven to be a good example for that, and I’m looking forward to more opportunities ahead.

Patricia: Do you have any projects that you are working on right now?

Michelle: A newer body of work I’m currently developing takes inspiration from quilt designs. I love the geometry and mathematical aspect of it, and the number of arrangements and permutations of colors that are possible are very exciting to me. This series will make a great complement to my kiln-blown collection, as my love of color and defined structure will still be very evident, while also providing more abstract designs, which will have a possibly broader range of uses both residentially and commercially.

Michelle Prosek is teaching the decorative glass community that glass tiles are not just for the bathroom. Decorative glass tiles make a great choice for art in public places.