I recently spent a weekend in Point Reyes Station, a small community - mostly an artists' colony but with more and more B&Bs and other attractions built for weekenders - just north of San Francisco. I did a fair amount of window shopping while I was there, and noticed the beautiful Arts & Crafts-influenced tiles marked "Blue Slide" in one shop. Today, I found an article by Joanne Furio in the San Francisco Chronicle on the makers of these tiles:
For inspiration, tilemaker Gordon Bryan doesn't have to go very far. His studio in Point Reyes Station overlooks golden hills where cattle graze. When not working, he can be found birding, gardening, surfing or on his 22-foot fishing boat. So it's not surprising that the cow, the black-headed grosbeak, the oak leaf, the willow and the herring have all found their way into his handmade tiles.
"That is Gordon's thing," says his wife and business partner, Pamela Bridges, who helps with the company's books and serves as her husband's main critic. "He is Mr. Outdoors. He loves nature. He can be out surfing and get some of his inspiration."
The couple, who have been together 25 years, have been in business almost as long. They founded Blue Slide Art Tile in Humboldt County in 1982 and have been in Point Reyes since 1986. In 2001, they moved their tile making from a rented warehouse to a converted Chevron oil depot they expanded into a 3,200-square-foot studio in Point Reyes Station.
From a one-man operation that sold tile-topped tables mostly to relatives and friends, Blue Slide has grown into a nationally distributed artisanal firm. Bryan estimates that even the simplest tile is touched at least 30 times.