The renowned blue hand painted tiles reflect a tradition with hundreds of years,
and it often portray scenes from the history of the country or
its fabulous sights.



Among the remaining Portuguese artists of azulejo is Mr. Ferreira, a brilliant mind who is always looking to create antique things and historic panels yet in a forward-thinking way. An artist who loves to draw and to paint since he was a little boy. “I wanted to study Fine Arts, but the opportunity appeared when my mother work at a ceramics factory where they had a very old painting section. I went to work only for the summer holidays, but actually I love it and I stayed for years.”

“The way we perform today is the same it has being done for the last 40 years, and certainly this is how it will be done for the next 40 years”.

The challenge today has been to find new aesthetic concepts since the tile itself will be always the same for years. He took around 4 to 5 years until he reached a good performance. Laying the chequered patterns is a slow and complex and therefore expensive practice, a factor which gradually and sadly led to the disappearance of the art.

“The master at the company I worked for believed in a very important thing: continuation, to guarantee the transition of knowledge from generation to generation”.

At the time, 30 years ago, the colleagues of Mr. Ferreira were 60 years old so that generation was about to end, and the manager was worried enough to bring in young people, “Actually he has the vision to recruit a big group, about fifteen young men with some learning skills who enjoy painting. We had the opportunity to learn with those masters that left us with that legacy”.

At the moment, those painters have left or abandoned the craft or prefer to work in their private ateliers. So when it comes to teaching artists are at great risk, it’s hard to teach the new generation while working by their own.

One of the most representative art forms of the Portuguese cultural heritage. The renowned blue hand painted tiles reflect a tradition with hundreds of years, and it often portray scenes from the history
of the country or its fabulous sights.

Azulejo is usually a clay or ceramic plate piece, generally with a square shape decorated with glazed colorful designs, and repeated hundreds to a few thousand times. It is used as wall covering decoration, being linked to architectural use, covering a large surface areas on both the inside and outside of buildings. The majority of tiles illustrates Moorish designs which have curvilinear, lacelike and looping designs, or even have geometric or floral motifs.

Originally, azulejos appeared in Portugal under the Moorish people in the XV century. Although there are many people who claimed the word is a derivation of “azul”, the Portuguese word for “blue”; the word originally Arabic and comes from az-zulayj, translated as “polished stone”. Since then, the country has been using the art uninterrupted for over five centuries, meaning it is already part of the Portuguese soul, earning the recognition
of the most meaningful place for the timeless skill.

The process is very meticulous. A tile is chosen to see if it is cracked, the good ones are the ones you can’t hear a vibration when hitting a tile against the other, it has a hollow sound. The drawing is on a parchment paper that is drawn with a graffiti pen and, on the back, it is stamped with a coal pencil in the tile. The paintwork is done with water-based paint, a powder that is mixed with water to work the density. More water means lighter ink, less water for the darker tones. To have the paint in the exact thickness requires knowledge, not too watery and not too strong. If it is too thick the brush starts dragging, if it is too watery, it will be difficult to achieve the expected tone.

The outline is made from the contour brush, and artists keep brushing, avoiding it gets lay on the bottom. After it, the background is painted with a swath brush to highlight the piece, then the dark shades for the highlights and more watery paint for the shades until the frame is completed. The azulejo goes to the oven and
the rest of the coal disappears. It is done.