Laird Plumleigh makes beautiful tile perfect for historic arts and crafts or Spanish-styled homes but also perfect to add a touch of singularity to new homes.
Laird Plumleigh is a talented artist choosing tile as his medium. There are numerous people with their own backyard kilns doing work similar to his own. Even high schoolers, he says, learn to make and glaze pottery and tiles in school these days. He was one of the first however. His work took off in the 1980’s.
One of his early influences was Ernest Batchelder who was responsible for many a tiled fireplace in California and allover the US. Interestingly, one of Laird’s clients recently purchased Batchelder’s personal home and is currently renovating it with Plumleigh’s tiles where needed.
Laird makes various plaques in the Batchelder style yet he has extended far beyond that arena.
Some of his tiles are simple squares in varying sizes with incredible color range. Using a field of squares is not ordinary when they are by LP.
He also makes large moldings to edge fireplaces and create mantels and even columns.
One of my favorite items of his are the triangular-shaped baseboard tiles. They are thick terracotta with the impressed design painted in varying shades. I have used this tile for two different projects as well as a cobalt moorish base tile. So long wood baseboards.
As talented as he is, naturally he has been hired for various exciting projects. Plumleigh has recreated tile for the fountain at Balboa Park in San Diego. He created an enormous full-story fireplace similar to Batchelder’s own, (pictured earlier) using ten different colors. Once he created a large white art deco frieze for a building in Los Angeles. A most memorable job was for a client who loved Lord of the Rings and themed his house accordingly. In one area he was hired to create large painted panels to resemble a misty forest of sorts. The panels were to cover an entire wall that would be the backdrop for a life-size version of one of the LOR characters.
Those panels were like abstract canvases, a departure from his previous work. My mother loved them and bought one for herself. He installed another as the central piece of his own fireplace, seen above.
He likes to experiment and try out new ideas. Recently he made these Dutch-inspired tiles to see how they would look. His bird feeders are hugely popular with visitors. Similarly, they are popular with my own backyard birds.
Living the artistic life.
Artists have the most interesting homes in my opinion. The reason being that care is taken with every item. They aren’t content with something unless it is just right. That does not mean perfect or expensive. They may make something themselves if they cannot find it or maybe they just arrange items differently than would others. There is always a fresh approach in an artist’s home which is exciting.
Laird Plumleigh’s house is no exception. Everything was made by hand or is antique. The pictures speak for themselves.
His house sits on a large piece of property in Encinitas that hosts a far off ocean view. Honestly though, while at Laird’s I never once think about the ocean. His abode is a world unto itself. There are countless fruit trees – lemon, pomegranate, apple, and plum. He is very generous with his fruit when you go for a working visit. Laying out a recent project took me four hours just to get it started. He brought jugs of water and the best Santa Rosa plum I have ever eaten. Hanging from rafters and stands are his hummingbird feeders with their sugar water. His glazed bird feeders hang all over the property. He has to fill them twice a day to feed his ravenous guests.
A beautiful expansive aviary holds six doves that provide a soothing background noise. I love their soft cooing as it evokes memories of my grandmother’s house in Phoenix.
LP and Casa V
Plumleigh tiles have added significantly to some of my projects that were a match for his work. They add just what I like to see in a house – a touch of one’s hand not seen anywhere else. Below are some of my projects featuring LP tile art.
Purchasing from Laird can be tricky as everything is handmade and hand-glazed. No two pieces are alike. The best way to create something for yourself or a client is to visit his home workshop. There are racks and racks of tile grouped by color. He has surfaces where you can draw out your dimensions and then begin arranging. The possibilities overwhelm, but when you leave you will have a unique Laird Plumleigh creation, seen a few birds, and maybe even eaten the most delicious plum of your life.
Casa V can bring a bit of Laird Plumleigh to add a unique touch to your home.