Celebrating the History of Malibu Tiles

A postcard featuring the Peacock Fountain at the Adamson House, c. 1930. Credit: Eric Wienberg Collection, Pepperdine University Special Collections and Archives

Dozens of children, teenagers, and adults showed up at Pepperdine’s Drescher Campus Library in Malibu on June 14, 2018 to participate in a special event that brought local history to life. Katharine McDowell, Drescher’s Public Services Supervisor, shared about the history of the Malibu Potteries, which created the famed Malibu Tile designs seen at the Adamson House and elsewhere around Los Angeles. Following her historical overview, participants had the opportunity to paint tiles of their own.

Barbara Burke captured the lively scene in a feature piece for the June 21 issue of Malibu Surfside News, “Different Strokes for Different Folks: Pepperdine’s Malibu Tiles-inspired event awakens artists of all ages”:

Tables were laid out with copies of the designs on various Malibu Tiles. Popping with gorgeous colors and beautiful subjects, those exemplars beckoned the painters who leaned in and took note of the intricate detail and often symmetrical designs.

Painters paused pensively, debating what tiles to copy or indeed, whether to copy one at all. What colors to use? What design? Should any of the tiles have animals, plants, shapes, or special configurations? So many decisions!

Soon, the decisions were made, and decorative tiles began to take form.

The event was organized in conjunction with Drescher Library’s exhibition featuring original Malibu Tiles from the collection housed in the Pepperdine University Special Collections and Archives. “The Colorful Coast: A Malibu Tiles History” details the history, creation process, and legacy of Malibu Potteries in the Malibu and greater Los Angeles area and runs through the end of July 2018.

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Celebrating the History of Malibu Tiles