Scott Wells is the founder of the vintage tile movement in Southern California Scott Wells is one of the true pioneers in the vintage tile world and as far as quantity and quality, he has remained on top for more than two decades.
News-Antique.com - Oct 21,2009 - Scott Wells is one of the true pioneers in the vintage tile world and as far as quantity and quality, he has remained on top for more than two decades.
In fact, it was his Silver Lake shop that set the stage for the first Southern California antique show dedicated to tiles. When California Heritage Museum director Tobi Smith saw all the brightly-colored tiles, many from the 1920s tile renaissance in Los Angeles, her jaw dropped.
"She (Tobi Smith) got the idea for the Santa Monica tile show from coming into my store," said Wells. "She said, 'wow, we can do a show on tiles.'"
Wells agreed with her and had already tried his hand at a pottery and tile show with Marc Tisdale. They held a few at the Elks Lodge in Pasadena.
However, it was the inaugural tile show held at the California Heritage Museum that served as a springboard for the tile world.
"The Santa Monica Tile Show ended up being the most successful show she ever held at the museum," said Wells. Eminating from that show were two books that Wells helped to compile, and there has been a Santa Monica Tile Show every year since that first groundbreaking one.
Further spreading information on this growing genre was Norman Karlson's comprehensive and photo-intense hardcover books on the subject, which documented the major tile makers from A to Z.
"It was a series of four books," recalled Wells. "Those raised tile collecting to another level."
When Wells started buying tiles in the early 1990s there wasn't much of a market. However, he was able to find them in sizable quantities and inexpensively. He admired their beauty and was convinced that they would catch on with vintage home decorators. At the time, there were no books on the subject, she he set the prices and developed a market.
"A lot of people get into this and they get addicted and start collecting them like stamps," said Wells. For some its the colors and the designs, and for others, it's the way the glazes feels on their fingertips.
Either they mount them in walls which is what they are for or they set them on tables," said Wells.
There is plenty to choose from. According to Wells, collectors can get copies of original company catalogs and try to track down examples of specific tiles. There were more than 100 Los Angeles area tile companies during the 1920s heyday, including Batchelder, Claycraft and Malibu.
"When your eyes are opened to the beauty of tiles, you will see them everywhere in L.A.—in bad neighborhoods and in stair risers in old buildings," he said. "It helps make up the beauty and heart of what California is."
Wells Antiques is located at 2162 West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Call (213) 413-0558.