Apr 13, 2021
While we are probably best known for the soft, chalky finishes of our cement tiles, our glazed collections are also a huge part of what we do, and our latest range has really confirmed our love for them.
These beautiful new tiles combine striking hand-painted designs with a glossy glaze to produce an overall look that’s elegant, eye catching and incredibly beautiful.
The tiles’ surfaces are gently reflective, with a multifaceted finish that shifts with the daylight, while the patterns are totally timeless, featuring colours derived from natural pigments. In short, they’re a total knockout.
We’ve always absolutely loved glazed tiles - read more about them here - so to combine that gorgeous glossy finish with hand-painted patterns for the first time is incredibly exciting for us.
But we don’t just love the way these tiles look. We are also passionate about the processes that go into producing them. They’re handmade in Portugal by a team of talented artisans who use traditional techniques to create stunning, statement-making colours and a rich finish.
These makers aren’t just good at what they do - we believe they’re among the best, and each tile they produce is a real celebration of true craftsmanship. We asked them to share the processes they use so you can see exactly what goes into making these tiles so special…
How are the tiles produced?
It all starts with the clay. We mix a variety of powders with water to make a paste we then ‘sieve’ through cloth before it’s moulded into clay discs that we call ‘biscuits’.
These discs are then kneaded and mixed together in an extruder and cut into slices ready for the moulding process.
We bash the slices into cast iron moulds to make the shapes we all know and love. This requires a bit of good-old elbow grease! The excess clay is then cut with a wire and put aside to be reused.
At this point, the tiles start to take shape. They’re slowly removed from their iron moulds and carefully placed onto another surface where they are left to dry naturally for around two to three weeks, depending on the time of year.
Next comes the first firing. All the tiles are strategically placed onto wagons to then be wheeled into our kilns. After this firing, the tiles are removed from their shelves and inspected one by one for possible damage or fault, before being taken for glazing. The tiles are taken for painting at this point.
How exactly does the painting process work?
We paint using paint brushes but depending on the result we’re trying to achieve we might use a stencil to lay out part of the image and then go in with the brush to finish it up. In many cases, however, only the paint brush is used.
Our hand-painted tiles require special paints. The colours are all developed and made in-house, so for commissioned requests we can either use existing colours, if those are suitable, or work on developing new ones.
Once the tiles are painted, they are rolled into our kilns to be fired for the last time.
How long does it take to paint each tile?
This can depend on the method used and on the design. Some hand-painted tiles can at times take close to a month to be finished.
What happens if you make a mistake when painting one?
If a mistake is made whilst the tile is still being painted, depending on the mistake, we may be able to clean the error made or clean away the whole tile and start again. This is only possible if the tile hasn’t yet been fired.
How long does someone need to practise before they're good enough to paint your tiles?
Quite a bit of time! It’s not easy to quantify but only a very few select people have the skills to paint tiles or to learn how to paint them. We are lucky to have some very talented artists in our atelier.
What makes these tiles so special?
These tiles are pure Portuguese tradition, born from years of history and a rich background. With these tiles we bring to life this tradition or use it to create something new. Each is characterised by countless hues, nuances, and particular shading details. No two pieces are exactly alike in both design and dimension and, quite often, not perfectly flat.
We also work hard to minimise the tiles’ environmental impact. Our clay materials are eco-friendly, and we reclaim our own liquid waste glaze and scrap clay and put it back into our clay body. Heat captured from our kilns is used to dry the tiles prior to firing.
We love the differences in finish achieved by the different hand painting techniques. For example our Salon and Otura tiles have a brushed effect whereas the Coimbra and Alalpardo tiles have a richer colour where the glaze is more concentrated.
We think the finished product really speaks for itself - see the full range here. If you have any questions about how our tiles are made, please get in touch - we’d love to hear from you and share more.