To become a finished Motawi Tileworks tile, slabs of raw clay must run the gauntlet of an elaborate production line, where they'll be crushed under a 60-ton press, dipped or drizzled in colorful glaze, and fired in a kiln at 2,000 degrees. Though the handmade process lends itself to variations in colors, it creates uniformly durable tiles built to withstand the heat of a fireplace, the splashing of a kitchen sink, or the futility of existence atop a shelf.
The company's artisans have handmade their tiles in Ann Arbor for two decades. They draw on this experience while creating three types of tiles: flat field, polychrome, and molded. Each catches eyes on its own, or transforms into an artful mosaic when mixed and matched. During the design process, the craftsmen draw inspiration from a huge range of American influences, from Native American artists to Frank Lloyd Wright.
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