Studio Tour #25 - Tortuga Tile Works

Koi Set In A River Rock Stream, hand built mosaic by LuRu

Welcome Back to another Saturday Studio Tour

Pack your swimsuit & sunscreen because we are off to Hollywood, Florida today.

Ceramics artist LuRu has invited us to stop by her backyard studio, Tortuga Tile Works. This is where LuRu creates her colorful tiles and unique mosaic pieces. Her tiles are made by hand out of Earthenware clay and are fired with a variety of glazes, many of which she makes herself.

You can view her tile collections on her website TortugaTileWorks.com as well as the new Etsy shop, TortugaTileWorks.etsy.com. These tiles can be mixed & matched to create a vibrant piece of mosaic art. They also work well as individual hanging pieces.

Now, I'm going kick back with a cold glass of iced tea so that LuRu can show you around. While you are here, click on any of the images for more information. (Photos are courtesy of Tortuga Tile Works.)

LuRu: Tortuga tiles are all hand-made. First, I carve a low relief design in clay. Then I cast it in plaster.

Once I have the mold I can reproduce the original carving by pressing earthenware clay into the mold. Each pressed tile gets cleaned up and fired to bisque temperature in one of my electric kilns.

My studio has a garage door that opens up onto my garden. It makes for a bright and sunny environment within which to work. I tend to work outside as much as I can.

Once the tiles are bisque fired I can glaze them. Many of the glazes I use are made from scratch using materials such as Gerstley Borate, Silica, EPK clay and mineral colorants. Here is a shot of my main work station with my glaze kitchen shelves.

I do most of the glazing outside under my umbrella. For the Death Head tiles I start by rubbing a black glaze into all of texture. Then I add color.

This process always takes longer than I would like as each color gets three coats. Once I am finished glazing, I can fire the tiles to a slightly higher temperature for a finished product.

I can adhere the fired tiles to a surface and grout between them for finished mosaic type pieces or I can sell the tile in pieces for do it yourself types to install themselves. Here are some finished pieces.

This is a gaming tabletop that fits over any standard fold up card table. It is tiled with playing card royalty tiles, dice tiles, coin tiles and playing card suit tiles.

This image is of a bar top featuring the Tiki Tapa tiles. They make a durable surface for bar tops that see a lot of action.

Want to find out more about LuRu's ceramics? She will be back here next Thursday to talk more about herself & her art. Click Here for Thursday Giveaway & Artist Feature details

How about a chance to win a free Tortuga Art Tile? In honor of her Etsy Shop Grand Opening this weekend LuRu is sponsoring the next Thursday Giveaway. Be sure to stop back here on 5/20 to visit with the artist & enter a random drawing for one of her colorful tiles.

Where else can you find Tortuga Tile Works?


If you find yourself in West Palm Beach today (5/15) stop by and say hi to LuRu at the Art Rock Show & Indie Marketplace (at The Armory Art Center)

Like Luau? In June she will be vending at:

The Hukilau, Bahia Mar, Ft Lauderdale, FL (6/10 - 6/13)

Ohana-Luau at the Lake, Tiki Motor Inn, Lake George, NY (6/25- 6/27)

Thanks LuRu for the fantastic tour!

And Thank You to all who stop by and leave a comment. It is your interest in these Studio Tours that keeps them coming! See you back here on 5/20 for the Artist Feature & Giveaway. Until then, I'll leave you with a final thought from LuRu

"You are not square and beige
so why should your tiles be?"


  1. Awesome work, LuRu! I've hearted your Etsy shop. Thanks for the tour, Stacey!

  2. Thanks Liz, I will be putting up a lot more mosaics this week!

  3. Beautiful work! How great to have a kiln!

  4. very nice; i like the thickness of these tiles. also the poloroid transfers below; very nice! wishing you a lovely weekend!

  5. Love her tiles! Great to meet LuRu and see her work space. How nice to be able to work outside. That is the coolest!

  6. Oh very nice blog! Came across it on UPrinting! Awesome work!

  7. Stacey yet another awesome tour.

    LuRu, love your work hearted your Etsy shop.

    I swear your garage workspace is the same colour as my garage :) T.

  8. I loved seeing how LuRu makes the tiles by hand! No wonder her tiles have such great detailing! Fun tour!