The Old Connection: A Carved Frame for Carved Marblehead Tiles

This is a set of carved matte green triptych tiles made around 1908 by Arthur Baggs (1886-1947) a few years after he founded the Marblehead Pottery. Each tile is 6-1/4″ square. We made the frame in quartersawn white oak (a natural choice for this image of oak trees) with Saturated Medieval Oak stain. Outside dimensions are about 8″ x 26″. Trevor and I collaborated on the setting for Mr. Baggs’s work. Trevor built the mortise and tenon frame, I carved the two dividers to connect and harmonize with the carved tiles.

Framed Marblehead-AE Biggs tile set

When we frame pictures, we’re giving them architectural place. Although paintings were originally part of architecture—the first paintings were murals and frescoes—we tend to forget that old connection. Tiles, however, we continue to recognize as part of architecture, and a tile maker like Arthur Baggs as a member of one of the many trades taking part in building. So whenever I frame tiles I’m very conscious of that old collaborative understanding of architecture: the work of diverse trades, each one distinct but alive to and with regard for the others, all joined in the larger work of art that is a building.

This is that idea in microcosm.

Set of framed Marblehead (Arthur Baggs) tiles


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