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Handmade ceramic tiles take advantage of all the complex possibilities of the ceramic process. Add the graphic potential of a picture plane, multiply that over any area you want, and the possibilities for ceramic tile projects become nearly limitless. And ceramic tile isn’t just flat; handmade ceramic tiles can be relief surfaces that are quite complex—but you would be surprised to learn how easy it can be to make your own. In fact, you can make a ceramic tile mold that has a lot of relief so you can quickly reproduce a complex design without having to carve each tile individually.


It all starts with ceramic tile design—and good design starts at the end; considering the end result of a ceramic tile project before any tile is made will help you choose the clay and the tools to use. And the experts we’ve chosen to walk you through the process of making and installing your own handmade ceramic tiles have all the information you will need to stay on track. Whether you are looking for tips to keep your tiles flat, or you’re making a complex ceramic tile mural for a large wall area, How to Design, Make, and Install Ceramic Tiles and Murals: Design Tips and How-To Instructions for Handmade Ceramic Tile Projects will help you  make great tiles in no time flat.


Here’s a sample of what’s inside this helpful freebie:


How to Make Ceramic Tiles Flat

by Laura Reutter


Keeping tiles flat while drying and firing has often been a source of frustration for clay artists. Over the years, I’ve read a great deal about sandwiching wet tiles between drywall, flipping them, stacking them, turning them, covering them or weighting them. Why spend countless hours fussing over tiles? I’ve developed a technique that greatly minimizes the amount of handling needed and is almost foolproof for making flat tiles.


drying1The Clay


To begin making flat tiles you need to use a heavily grogged clay formulated for sculpture or tile – not a plastic throwing clay. I like my clay on the dry, stiff side as too much water makes it dry slowly and promotes warping.


The Process


Most of my tiles are press molded in plaster molds, but if you don’t use molds for your tiles, just roll out clay slabs directly onto a piece of drywall (drywall makes a great work surface – just make sure to seal all of the drywall edges with duct tape to contain that nasty drywall dust) using wooden spacers or dowels beneath the rolling pin for the desired thickness. I prefer half-inch-thick tiles. Once you have rolled out the clay slabs, don’t move, lift or turn them. If you do move the clay, its “plastic memory” will kick in and it may warp, bend, or curl during drying and firing. Just trim the slabs in place, cutting them to the desired dimensions using a trimming knife and your pattern. After trimming, it is very important to allow the wet tiles to sit on the drywall for 8 to 12 hours (overnight is usually good). Drywall sucks a lot of water out of the clay and the tiles will really stiffen up.


By the next day the tiles should be pretty close to leather hard and stiff enough to handle without flexing. Test a tile to see if it can be picked up safely. At this point, trim and smooth the edges. If you wish to incise or decorate the green tile in any way, now is the time to do it. There is no need to score the backs of tiles unless you want to. Scoring has nothing to do with the warping or drying process, but it helps the tile adhesive cling to the tile and hold it to the wall or floor during installation. I only score my tiles if I know the customer wants them for an installation.


Once the tile is trimmed, place it directly onto a rigid metal storage rack. Because air circulates on all sides of the tile, it dries very evenly and no warping occurs. While your tiles dry, avoid direct sources of warm air like a register vent or portable heater that might dry one area faster than another. You want even drying from top and bottom. I keep tiles on the rack until they are completely dry and ready to bisque.


You should only handle your green tiles about three times: once to roll out and cut the clay; once to smooth the edges and place on a drying rack; and once to put it in a kiln for your bisque firing.


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How to Design, Make, and Install Ceramic Tiles and Murals: Design Tips and How-To Instructions for Handmade Ceramic Tile Projects also includes 

ceramic_tile_01-300x300How to Make Molds for Ceramic Tile Murals

by Gary Carlos


If you need a lot of tiles, a ceramic tile mold can save you a lot of time and effort. Carlos demonstrates how to make a basic ceramic tile mold for impressing a design into ceramic tiles. Want to get a little deeper? Carlos also shows you how to make and use a cavity mold designed for ceramic tile relief.



Stephenson_012-300x200Making a Ceramic Tile Fireplace Surround
by Stephani Stephenson


Ceramic tile artist Stephani Stephenson loves the Spanish and Mission revival styles along with Batchelder and Claycraft finishes. One of the projects she tackled was designing and making a ceramic tile fireplace surround in that early 20th century style. If you’ve ever wanted to tackle an impressive ceramic tile project, this is the one.






ceramic_tile_03-300x231How to Design, Make, and Install a Hanging Ceramic Tile Wall Mural 

by Donna Rozman


Create a ceramic tile design based on simple experimentation with abstract shapes. Rozman shares a tile design transfer technique for quick repetition and production of your tile design, then walks you through the steps for applying glaze and colorants to ceramic tiles. She includes a glaze recipe for majolica tile decoration. Rozman finishes off by showing how to install and display a ceramic tile mural.


Gamble_relief_step_07How to Make a Good Impression with Ceramic Tile Wall Art
by Paul Andrew Wandless

David Gamble believes you can find inspiration for your art anywhere, even in mundane objects like sewer covers. Here, Paul Andrew Wandless explains how David turned manhole covers and sewer grates into wall-worthy ceramic tile wall art.



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Watch the video below for an example of our great how-to video clips!





About Ceramic Arts Daily:

Ceramic Arts Daily is a free online website and newsletter written and produced for the benefit of potters and ceramic artists worldwide. The newsletter features both renowned and emerging artists, their work, techniques and artistic perspectives. Regular features include tips and techniques designed to help every artist expand their skill set and widen their artistic horizons.


Ceramic Arts Daily also delivers video tips, in which potters and ceramic artists demonstrate various projects and processes. Think of them as e-workshops! Here’s a sample:




Ceramic Arts Daily is designed to be interactive, inviting your comments and fostering a community in which each person can contribute to the growth of their own and others’ skills. You may be surprised at what you learn!


Ceramic artists on Ceramic Arts Daily know what ceramic art is all about – from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. This is about community. You’ll be drawn in by artists’ stories, inspired by their work and find confidence to try some of their techniques. With Ceramic Arts Daily, you’ll learn a little bit of everything. Then you can choose the techniques you enjoy the most to create something new!


So start today by downloading our free How to Design, Make and Install Ceramic Tile Murals and Mosaics: Design Tips and How-To Instructions for Handmade Ceramic Tile Projects. Then, get ready for Ceramic Arts Daily to introduce you to new artists and show you new techniques!



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2 Comments on "How to Design, Make, and Install Ceramic Tiles and Murals: Design Tips and How-To Instructions for Handmade Ceramic Tile Projects"

  1. Wendy DelCampo November 21, 2013 at 11:17 pm -
    Really nice! Good step by step process. Thank you!
  2. Carol August 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm -
    Appreciated especially your advice on how not to handle the tiles more than 3 times. I am new at working with clay and now realize that the warping of my paper clay sculptures is because I used too much water in my clay. Will dry it out more before sculpturing. Thank you!

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