Specializing in Custom Designs for Residential & Commercial

Consultation ~ Design & Illustration

Custom Color ~ In House Glazing & Firing

About the Company

Atherton Tile Company creates tiles of technical and aesthetic excellence, perpetuating the art of handcrafted tile and enhancing people’s lives through the experience of art.  Working closely with designers, builders, architects and owners, our designs meet the needs of each unique project. We offer a broad range of services including consultation, design, illustration, in-house firing and over 1,500 specialty glaze colors.

The Art of Cuerda Seca

 For a brief, educational tour of the craft of cuerda seca tile painting, I invite you to view a short slideshow.

The technique that I use for decorating tile is called cuerda seca. Dating back to 8th century Spain, this style has played a major role in the influence of decorative tile around the world.

Relying upon my background as an illustrator, I create my designs, transfer the artwork onto tiles and use wax to trace the line art. The wax keeps the colors separated before and during the firing process. Cuerda seca actually means "dry cord."  Artists used to dip string into wax to lay out their designs. The next step is to apply ceramic glazes.  I like to work wet into wet to create interesting effects.  When the glazes have dried completely, the tiles are fired at approximately 1900 degrees, spending a total of 25+ hours in the kiln before they can be handled.  Opening the kiln is still the most exciting part of this job.  I learn something new every day. 

About the Artist

Linda Shields is an inspiring and accomplished artist committed to excellence in her craft and integrity in her business.  She works closely with architects, designers and clients to achieve the distinctive patterns, detailed artwork and rich brilliant colors for which she has become known. Her works include private commissions, commercial signage, fireplace surrounds, murals for patios, kitchens, and baths. Her range varies by project and includes historic and contemporary; art nouveau, arts & crafts, nature scenes.

With an extensive design library and skills in illustration, Linda often studies the origin of the property, the local flora and fauna and the original architecture of the existing space.   “I think of my art as a teaching tool in many ways. There is a story to tell in each painting, one that will inspire creativity in others and, at the very least, leave them with a sense of curiosity and joy.” 

In 1993, after a successful career in marketing, Linda opened an illustration studio in Ventura, California, specializing in portraits. Her love for art led her to ceramics. In 1999, she established Atherton Tile Company in Redwood City, California, where she developed and marketed a line of decorative accent tiles to a national network of distributors.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, has served on the board of directors for Silicon Valley Visual Arts and is a member of the Tile Heritage Foundation.

In 2001, Linda Shields was as a featured artist in “Ceramic Art Tile for the Home,” a Schiffer Book for Collectors, and her work appeared on the Christopher Lowell Show.  Her work has been featured in the following publications:

Qualified Remodeler, Cover Story, August 2006

SignCraft, September 2006

“Ones to Watch,” HomeStyle by the Sea, Fall 2005

Veterinary Economics, June 2006

“Ceramic Art Tile for the Home,” a Schiffer Book for Collectors, 2001

Linda’s studio is now located in Monterey County, California, where she teaches and focuses on commissioned tile murals for commercial and residential installations.