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The Douglas Watson Studio
Our Studio & Showroom
Hand Made Tile Processes
The process begins with the clay being placed in the feed hopper, till it reaches the body of the pugmill.
The compressed clay is then pushed through the mouth of the pugmill into lengths.
The lengths are then placed onto plasterboard and flipped, to then be arranged in a 6 tiered stack. Once a stack has 6 layers, the lengths of clay can begin to be cut into whichever size or shape is required.
Once a stack is finished, it will then be placed on our drying shelves. The tiles take approximately 2 weeks to dry, before they are collected and brought to fire.
The green tiles are then placed into our biscuit kilns. There are 3 layers in each kiln that can hold up to 80 tiles at a time. We arrange the tiles in a specific way, to ensure that as little of them are touching as possible.
They kilns are then sealed and set for firing. Our tiles are fired up to 1015°, so that they are a nice pink colour when we come to glazing.
Once the tiles have been fired, they are then ready for glazing. Most tiles require 4 coats of glaze, although this does vary depending on the type of finish the client is looking for. For example, a 'pinky white' tile only has 3 coats of glaze. The first layer of wet glaze sinks into the surface quite quickly, so it is important that the next layer is applied as fast as possible. If not, the surface of the tile can end up bobbly when fired.
We then rub charcoal through a pin-pricked stencil, which creates a dotted line to follow when painting. This ensures a degree of consistency between tiles, whilst also allowing for each artists individual flair to shine through.
Once a design has been chosen, we then select the correct colours to match the example tile we have displayed on the website. This can be a lengthy process, that can involve mixing colours from scratch, or selecting colours we have successfully used before for that specific design. A lot of the raw colours don't look the same when fired either, so sometimes it requires a test.
Once the glazed tile is dry, and the specific colours have been selected and mixed, the tile is then ready to be painted on. Depending on the design, a tile can take up to 45 minutes to complete.
This is what a finished painted tile looks like before its fired. Note how the colours change in the next picture, after firing.
The finished product.