About Sycamore Tile Works

Sycamore Tile Works is a joint venture in tile setting and mosaic design. The company began primarily as a standard tile setting business (installing showers, fireplaces, backsplashes, countertops, floors, walls, etc.) and has gradually shifted to include custom designed and hand crafted mosaic work, including hanging art pieces, tables, and architectural installations.

We love tile, all kinds of tile in all kinds of settings, from the most basic grid installation to the most intricately placed mosaic. At Sycamore we combine the basic virtues of standard tile installing (perfect layout, tight grout lines, attention to material selection and technique) with the basic virtues of mosaic creation (good design, texture, flow, contrast, and color choice).

We chose the Sycamore tree as our icon for the mosaic-like nature of its bark, for the tree’s resilience and adaptability to the forces of nature, and as a symbol of creation and recreation. We are always working to generate the finest tile and mosaic installations, hoping that our viewers might find themselves absorbed in the beauty of its creation.

About the Artists:
Chris Elam

I have always been heartily concerned with spaces. At a very young age, I can remember frequently rearranging my bedroom to give it a fresh perspective, caring for every detail until it seemed perfect. I don't know where that comes from, but it is certainly woven into the quilt of my being. During my first years of college, I was naturally drawn to the arts. I could easily lose myself in the process of creating drawings, paintings, and paper collages. I received an Associates Degree primarily in fine arts, but my undergraduate and graduate work took me in new directions, into intercultural studies and religious studies, which have personally always fascinated me.

In recent years, I have found my way back to the arts via the world of construction. I have been privileged to have very good mentors who cared more about the quality of our work than the quantity, while still giving me a realistic picture of the heavy demands in creating spaces. As an apprentice under Dale Bassi of Bassi Construction (Lincoln, IL), I learned about the art of standard tile installation and gradually became the company's primary tile installer. As others understand in the trades, I felt a curious connection to this specific kind of work, as if I were wired to do this very thing.

I love tedious design and layout, but I also love the freedom in breaking ceramic plates and casting them over a masonry canvas. It was at the Chicago Mosaic School that I found "my people," and it was there that I first realized where tile work could inevitably go. So here I am, with nearly a decade of tiling behind me, still captivated by this work, and hoping that the mystery of life might somehow speak into your world by using a simple piece of tile.

Emily Elam

I have enjoyed art as long as I can remember. Whether creating custom cards for friends or making collages, I am delighted to share my art with others. As a certified teacher, I brought elements of art into classroom projects. Diving into the world of mosaics has been a pleasurable and challenging experience. My love of puzzles, attention to detail, and eye for layout have helped my skills grow. I hope you enjoy our works as much as we enjoy creating them.