Meet the Artist Behind Spiritiles: Houston Llew Q&A

We will be having a spectacular signing event with Houston Llew – the artist behind spiritiles – at our West Des Moines location on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) from 11 am to 3 pm. We will be having a giveaway for a SIGNED Des Moines spiritile! To be entered to win, simply come in to our West Des Moines location on May 5th to receive an entry. The winner will be drawn by Houston Llew at 3 pm and you do not need to be present to win.

What exactly are spiritiles? They are great home décor items that have an eye-catching image on the front and an inspiring saying on each side. Each tile is hand-made using painted glass that is kiln-fired onto copper and added between the outer frames. We’ll let Houston do rest of the talking with this Q&A:

Q Where do you draw inspiration from when finding what image/words to put onto a tile?

A “Life! No, seriously… I don’t go anywhere without a pocket moleskine notebook to jot down ideas and sketch out concepts whenever they present themselves. Ideas have a life of their own. They are always floating around wherever you go, waiting to be plucked from the air, but you must have something to capture them and carry with you, otherwise it’s a “catch and release” of ideas. If you’re out walking in the park, and you’re struck with inspiration and nothing to capture it for later, the idea will return to the air like a fish and swim away! I recommend everyone carry something to jot ideas down when they happen… my moleskine is how I’ve caught so many ideas!”

Houston Llew Spiritiles - Josephs Jewelers
According to Houston Llew’s website, every spiritile is handcrafted according to the same dimensions following the golden mean ratio. / photos from

Q What does the word ‘spiritile’ mean to you?

A “I wanted to make something that was more than a drawing or words – I think that infusing spirit into your work carries over to the experience someone has when they interact with that work in the gallery, in the home, or when they receive it as a gift. Calling them “Spiritiles” just made sense to me because the pieces fused image with a story to symbolize meaningful moments in life and in the spirit which people we fill those moments with… those moments that you just want to last for forever.”

Q When did you start your business?

A “October of 1980. I believe that if you build something that has your name on it, your business started when you were born, because all of your life experiences culminate in how you start and run a business. Everything stems back to then.”

Houston Llew Spiritiles - Josephs Jewelers

Q Where do you get the colored ground glass from?

A “It’s enamel glass, typically used for cloisonné jewelry. The process is very similar except I’m not using metal wire to separate the colors. Instead I use the different glass levels, stencils, and tensions, employing techniques taught to me by one of my mentors: Zingaro.”

Q You have an exciting new trio collection that’s been recently released. How long have you thought of creating these?

A I created my first triptych piece in that format around 2010. The format is designed to fit into our Spiritile hanging pattern (available upon request) which abides golden mean proportions.

Q When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A “Me! Big dreams. Honestly, I don’t remember but if I knew what it was like to be me today… this is what I would have picked.”

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