Being one of the most representative art forms of the Portuguese culture, the hand-painted tiles reflect a tradition with hundreds of years, and it often portrays scenes from our history or its fabulous sights. Azulejo (another term for hand-painted tiles) is a clay or ceramic plate piece, generally with a square shape decorated with glazed colourful designs, and the majority of hand-painted tiles shows Moorish designs which have curvilinear, lacelike and looping designs, or even have geometric or floral motifs.
The process is very meticulous. A tile is chosen to see if it is cracked, the good ones have a hollow sound when hit against each other. The drawing is on a parchment paper that is drawn with a graffiti pen and stamped with a coal pencil in the tile. The paintwork is done with water-based paint, a powder that is mixed with water to work the density.
To have the paint be the exact thickness requires knowledge: not too watery and not too strong. If it is too thick, the brush starts dragging, if it is too watery, it will be difficult to achieve the expected tone. The outline is made from the contour brush, and artists keep brushing, avoiding it gets laid on the bottom. Afterwards, the background is painted with a swath brush to highlight the piece, then the dark shades for the highlights and more watery paint for the shades until the frame is completed. The hand-painted tile goes to the oven and the rest of the coal disappears. The process is complete.
Originally, hand-painted tiles appeared in Portugal under the Moorish people in the XV century. Since then, no other country has used this art with such consistency and in so many ways for over five centuries, meaning it is already part of the Portuguese soul, earning the recognition of the most meaningful place for this timeless skill.
Among the remaining Portuguese artists of hand-painted tiles and a member of our team is Mr Araújo, a brilliant mind who is always looking to create antique and historic panels yet in a forward-thinking way. An artist who loves to draw and to paint since he was a little boy.
“I wanted to study Fine Arts, but my mother worked at a ceramics factory where they had a very old painting section. I had the opportunity to work only for the summer holidays, but actually, I love it and I stayed for years.”
The challenge today has been to find new aesthetic concepts since the hand-painted tile itself will be always the same. That is where Boca do Lobo thrives, always searching for ways to celebrate contemporary design while keeping alive the know-how of our ancestors. Craftsmanship is in our core, and also a key part of our furniture designs.