B. A. Schmidt Arts & Enterprises, Inc
. located in Highland
Park, Illinois, produces handmade porcelain relief tiles.
Our tiles are available through showrooms
If there is no showroom in your area
, you may contact us
B.A. Schmidt Arts & Enterprises, Inc.
is a family business.
was founded by Barbara Schmidt in 2000. Until that time, Barbara had worked first as a social
worker and then for over 20 years as an attorney with the Federal government for
both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission. Although during the day she investigated and litigated
securities and commodities fraud, she actively developed her artistic skills in
her spare time. She studied painting and drawing at night at Northwestern
University and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She filled
sketch book after sketch book of portraits of commuters that she drew
daily on the train ride into the city. She also
took classes at The Art Center of Highland Park in Highland Park, Illinois and the
Evanston Art Center in Evanston, Illinois. Barbara has a B.A. from the
University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), an MSW from the Jane Addams School of
Social Work at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and a JD from De
Paul University College of Law. (Chicago)
Her interest in tiles started by accident, when during her lunch hour while
working at the SEC she came across a book featuring decorative tiles in the New
York subway system. She thought that they were extraordinarily
beautiful and wanted to learn how to make her own tiles. In 1996, she
wandered into a paint your own pottery store, purchased a bisque tile and
started painting. Building on her interest in children's illustration,
(see Fairy Tale Tile
page) using underglazes,
she painted complicated murals on factory bisque tiles. In 1998 she bought her
first kiln. Also in 1998 she began taking tile making and sculpture
classes at The Art Center Highland Park. By 2000
she was making relief tiles almost exclusively. She initially
sold her tiles at local art fairs. In 2003 she refocused her business
to selling them through high end tile stores.
Barbara is responsible for the design and execution of all the tiles. Her
husband helps with odds and ends. Her daughter helps with web site issues.
Barbara currently teaches tilemaking at The Art Center Highland Park
B.A. Schmidt Arts has over 100 different tile designs. Many are based on
classic children's illustration from the late 19th and early 20th Century.
Other tiles are based on natural images, some tiles, such as the leaf tiles, use
actual leaf imprints in the molds. The tiles are completely handmade.
In designing her tiles, Barbara begins by making a model of the tile out of
clay. She then pours plaster over the model to make a plaster mold.
The mold can then be used to make repeats of the original tile. Each tile
is hand pressed in the mold. After the tiles are taken out of the mold,
additional carvings and undercuts are applied to make each tile unique.
The tiles are first dried very slowly to prevent warping and cracking (this can take up to two weeks), and then bisqued
in the kiln. They are then glazed and stained. She generally uses a ceramic
stain that is mixed with a matte transparent glaze that is first brushed on and
then sponged off, to give the tiles an antique, wood cut like appearance. Other
colors are available and additional colors can be added to the tile. The tiles
are then fired again to maturity.
Barbara uses a grolleg porcelain clay body that matures at cone 6, approximately
2232 degrees Fahrenheit. The tiles are
approximately 1/2 inch thick. They can be used both indoors and out. The
well a variety of commercially available stone and field tiles.
Matching field tile in small amounts only is
available. All field tile is hand made.
All tiles are available with an antique brown fired on stain. Other colors
are available, as can be seen throughout the site.
All sizes are approximate. Variations in color can occur.
All tiles are made to order. Please allow four to
for delivery. Large orders may take longer. The tiles are not returnable unless
defective or damaged
in shipping. No cancellations are allowed after production has begun.
A 50% deposit for all orders is required.
Barbara is a member of the
Tile Heritage Foundation
, the Tile Council of America
and The Handmade Tile