Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Relief Tiles are Made

I recently visited the factory that makes many of our tiles and got to see how relief tiles are made. Each piece is handmade and I gained a new appreciation and understanding for relief tiles. During the next few months, we'll be featuring tiles from this factory in our blog, newsletter and site. Today's post shows how relief tiles are made and highlights our Antigua Colonial relief tile line.

Bathroom Installation - Colonial Antigua Rust Capuchinas Relief Deco
Bathroom Installation - Colonial Antigua Rust Capuchinas

Colonial Antigua Rust Capuchinas Relief Deco
Colonial Antigua Rust Capuchinas Relief Tile

All tiles in the Antigua Colonial line come in one of four glazes: rust, sand, blue green, and green. The glaze creates a satin gloss on the flat areas and a matte effect on the relief areas. From the installation and product photo (above), you can see these tiles create a striking contrast with the glaze and texture of the relief. Now let's look at how these tiles are made. You'll have a better appreciation for the craftsmanship that is required to create each tile by hand, one at a time.

The Design & Concept Stage
An artist usually sketches the initial concept for a relief tile to find the most promising design. To create a mold, the pattern is carved into wood. The initial patterns may be carved from plaster until relief details are finalized by the artist. Once the design is approved, the pattern will be carved into wood and a mold created from the impression.

Capuchinas Relief Tile Mold
A Relief Tile Mold - Colonial Antigua Capuchinas Relief Deco

The Manufacturing Process
Once you have a mold, the relief tiles are created following these steps:

  1. Clay is prepared
    Making Relief Tiles

  2. Clay is worked into the mold
    Making Relief Tiles

  3. Excess clay from mold is removed for a level tile back
    Making Relief Tiles

  4. Clay body is pulled from mold
    Making Relief Tiles

  5. Detail of artisan pulling tile from mold
    Making Relief Tiles

  6. The relief tile! After drying, it will be glazed and fired.
    Making Relief Tiles

You can appreciate the time and labor that goes into creating each relief tile. Don't forget the tile still needs to be glazed and fired. You can understand why these tiles are so unique and truly a labor of love.

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