Clay ceramic tiles have been used for centuries to decorate homes. Artisans learning the technique sometimes apprentice for as long as eight years to learn the many intricacies of creating clay ceramic tiles. These techniques include learning about different types of clay, glaze colorings, and the methods of firing in a kiln. The purely artistic ability of painting a design presents only one aspect of producing high-quality clay ceramic tiles.
One method of designing a spectacular piece using clay ceramic tiles begins with a drawing. First, a slab of clay large enough to accommodate the design is rolled out onto a table. The artist then transfers the rendering to the clay and carefully cuts out the design into pieces small enough to comfortably handle and to fit into the kiln. These pieces then are stacked carefully onto boards (drywall makes an excellent stacking board). Depending on the size of the tiles, the pieces dry for one to four days.
Handle with Care
At this point in the creation of clay ceramic tiles, the dried pieces are very fragile. Care must be taken to avoid chipping or cracking the pieces. Using a damp sponge and specially designed tools, the clay pieces are cleaned. This involves carefully removing bumps or rough edges on the tiles and smoothing them. Any painting or decoration of the tiles is done at this time.
The next step in making clay ceramic tiles entails another shorter drying period. After this, the tiles are stacked upside down in the kiln (to prevent warping) and fired at temperatures up to 2200 degrees, depending on the type of clay used.
Critical to the firing process, the kiln must be allowed to cool down for 24 to 48 hours before opening. Premature opening at this process of making clay ceramic tiles could cause crazing or even split the tiles.
After sponging off any dust residue from the clay ceramic tiles, they are glazed and fired once again. Again, the kiln must cool completely before opening and removing the tiles. At this stage, the clay ceramic tiles are finished.
Hopefully, this brief look at how some clay ceramic tiles come into being will inspire and garner appreciation for this interesting and decorative art. So why not investigate further? You may find yourself getting into the world of clay ceramic tiles and learn how to make them yourself.