A Contemporary Spin on Santa Theresa Classics: Susan Gamble Brings Glass and Tile Together


If you’ve been through the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix you may have had a chance to enjoy some new artwork by Santa Theresa Tile Works founder, Susan Gamble. Since last October, she has been creating one of kind original mosaic wall art for the Avila gift shops. What’s new about these pieces? Susan has incorporated  stained glass that not only compliments her  lovely handmade tiles,  but also give each composition a modern twist. Along side playful flowers, whimsical birds and kitties displaying their “cattitude”, you’ll see marvelous colors and patterns of  stained glass cut into geometrical shapes. Nothing is more exciting for the creative personality than the exploration of new materials. Here’s a few words from Susan about her new direction:

Mixed Media glass and Ceramic Sunflower Mosaic

Mixed Media Sunflower Mosaic with custom designed glass and ceramic tiles in a 10″ x 10″ frame.

I set myself a design goal of combining ceramic tile and glass. The ceramic part was easy—I developed Skinny Tile. Skinny Tile matches the thickness of stained glass and you can cut it with glass tools. I use a Toyo TC-600 Tap Hand Cutter, running pliers and tile nippers for both glass and Skinny Tile. I plan to add a pair of groziers to my tool chest soon.

I do not have the same affinity for glass that I do for clay. It is such a distinct material. It requires a whole different set of skills from making and decorating clay tiles. What I do like about glass is the variety of colors and textures available. So my approach to glass became very simple. Find yummy colors and cut them, randomly, into simple shapes.

With a box full of glass and boxes full of Skinny Tiles in traditional Santa Theresa style shapes my imagination is set free. I really enjoy creating these small, simple, abstract pieces that are focused on the visual art essentials of line, shape, color, value and texture. The grout filled negative space is just as important to me all the tessarae.

My approach to combining Skinny Tile with glass has endless possibilities. Now that I have achieved a level of comfort working with glass, I plan to delve into discovering how to maximize combining the unique qualities of both glass and ceramic tile.