Portrait of Costa Rica in Tiles

Hand Painted Ceramic Tiles Costa Rica

Upon my arrival in Costa Rica, misinformed tourist-type that I was, I was all agog to find spicy food and decorative tiles. What was I thinking! Neither were to be found and I began to think that maybe I got off on at the wrong stop! Joking aside, these searches were most uncultured of me; eventually I came to terms with where I was and adapted my need to satisfy a spicy mouth burn for a myriad of wholesome vegetables (of course adding a bit of picante condiment).

But where o’ where were the tiles? Oh dear, the tiles… nowhere to be found. Fast forward to the opening of Namu gallery when some wonderful revelations came my way – more on these later, dear reader – but for now as we’re talking tiles, you must know that two wonderful artists crossed my gallery threshold and offered to show me their work: tiles…hand-painted, colorful, glazed tiles in three sizes! I almost fell off my stool.


Patricia Muñoz and Julliet Betancur came to Costa Rica approximately 11 years ago as their homeland, Colombia, was not conducive to committing to their art. Costa Rica, with its marvelous flora and fauna and peaceful lifestyle, would allow them to pursue their métier without impediment. And thus they have expressed the joie de vivre of their adopted country through the ancient process of stamping, painting and finally baking tiles.

It must be added that the raw tiles are not made in Costa Rica (for reasons that only a greater power than I knows). In fact, they come from Guatemala. However, these two artists endow the humble, plain old tile with their glorious art, mostly depicting local flora and fauna. Visitors to the gallery are thrilled to acquire a set of 4 coasters, or a medium or large trivet (all heat resistant, I should add) that is better than a photograph in the way that their art captures the stunning natural beauty of Costa Rica.

Tiles: A Historical Perspective

Decorative tile work was invented in the near East, where it has enjoyed a longer popularity and assumed a greater variety

Painted Tile Trivet

of design than anywhere in the world. During the Islamic period, all methods of tile decoration were brought to perfection in Persia. In Europe decorated tiles did not come into general use outside Moorish Spain until the second half of the 12th century. The tile mosaics of Spain and Portugal, the majolica floor tiles of renaissance Italy, the faience’s of Antwerp, the development of tile iconography in England and in Holland, and the ceramic tiles of Germany are all prominent landmarks in the history of ceramic tile.

Yes, tiles have been around for more than 4,000 years. Beautiful tiled surfaces have been found in the oldest pyramids, the ruins of Babylon, and ancient ruins of Greek cities. You, however, can find Patricia and Julliet’s marvelous hand painted tiles upon visiting our physical gallery in San Jose or herein on our website. And remember, these are construction quality tiles that have been handsomely decorated by hand. What that means for you is that you can grout them into your kitchen, bathroom, use them to create a splash-back, or make a coffee-table top; the only limits are your own imagination. Click here to view our ceramic tiles for sale under our Folk Arts collection.


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2 thoughts on “Portrait of Costa Rica in Tiles”

  1. Thank you for the write up on these two talented artists. I’ve been to Costa Rica 8 times since 2004…I own 3 of their plates, which I bought in my earlier trips 2004-07. I purchased them from the Poas Volcano gift shop…every time I go there, I look for more plates by them and never see them…one is hanging above my sink and I look at it with love, multiple times a day.

    The other is in my bathroom and the cobalt blue and toucans light up the small space. The other one is hanging in my mom’s kitchen and she is my next door neighbor, so I get to see it often and admire its beauty….

    If you see them, please tell them I said muchos gracias!


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