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Creativity Heals: Making a house a home, one tile at a time

Everyone has been spending much more time than usual in their homes these last few months. For Esther and Paul Halferty, sheltering at home has given them ample time to reflect on the role color, pattern and texture play in creating a warm, welcoming and healing space, the true essence of home.

The couple met while both were working at Moravian Pottery and Tile Work, a living history museum in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Their time at the museum cultivated their love for tile work, inspired by the Arts and Craft Movement in America.

When the couple married, Lilywork Artisan Tile was born. In 2012, they relocated to Stonington and created their new home with a detached studio workspace.

Their passion for tile and working with clay has been a constant, carrying them through life’s ups and downs. Family illness, deaths, and a difficult pregnancy are a few of the challenges the couple has faced. They can’t not make things, and keeping creative has helped them through.

“After our son was born, I had an emergency appendectomy. It was a very long healing process,” said Esther. “I gave myself a goal of making something. That helped me get out of bed, and gave me something beautiful to focus on.”

Tile work combines making a repetitive pattern, and incorporating their tiles into something larger, whether that be a kitchen or fireplace design. This seems to be a metaphor for the couple’s approach to life.

“The Arts and Crafts era craftsmen believed passionately in honest craftsmanship, and the importance of creating beautiful, well-made objects that can be used in everyday life,” said Paul.

Esther and Paul are not only guided by their faith and the belief in a higher power, they have also studied historic architecture, patterns, and cultures as part of their development as artisans. It is not surprising that the couple is inspired by their walks on local nature trails and along the coast, as well as by their travels abroad.

“The more you study cultures — the food, buildings, textiles and patterns of other times and places — the more you realize that there is something in every culture that is valuable,” said Esther. “We can find the beauty in, and learn to appreciate each other.”

Emma Palzere-Rae is Associate Director for Artreach, Inc. and founder of Be Well Productions. If you have a story about how creativity has helped you heal, please contact emma.artreachheals@gmail.com.

Who: Esther and Paul Halferty

Town: Stonington

Creative Outlet: Clay Tile and Ceramics

Helpful Resource: "Racinet's Historic Ornament in Full Color" by Auguste Racinet (read for free at https://www.scribd.com/book/271616041/Racinet-s-Historic-Ornament-in-Full-Color) and Architectural Digest (https://www.architecturaldigest.com/)

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