Clay Squared tile is a handcrafted tile made from a special mix of terra cotta clay. Its specialty is that it is exterior grade and has an expected life span of over a 100 years. Clay Squared tile is made one of two ways, larger tiles 5" up to 12" are all hand rolled out in the time honored method of wedging the clay to extract the air out of the clay and then rolled flat with a rolling pin. Using two same thickness wood slats we can make each tile the same thickness.
We then place laminated graph paper cut to the tile cutting the clay to the size of tile needed for each project. Smaller tiles 3/4" to 4 " are made with our extruder which is basically a big Play-doh machine. We use hard plastic dies and cut the shapes and sizes we need for each project out and push the clay through the die in the extruder into long strips. Each strip is laid out and cut with a pizza cutter to the length needed.
dies to size tiles Extruder dies Extruder
Both processes are then left to dry on sheetrock uncovered if they are flat field tile and covered with plastic if they need to be carved for the next day. It will take two days for the tiles to completely dry. After they are dried we will glaze the tiles with brushes and squirt bottles for different glaze effects. The tiles are then scraped while the glaze is semi-dry to help create less dust and easier cleaning of the tiles to ready them for the kiln.
The tiles are once again left to dry for one more day. Then the tiles are placed on a kiln shelf (a shelf that can with stand heat of over 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. The tiles can not touch each other in the process since the glaze when fired turns to glass and could fuse to the other tiles. Clay Squared tiles are fired to what is called cone 04 - 1922 Fahrenheit this is considered a low temperature in ceramics. Clay Squared does not bisque fire our tiles and re-fire them with a glaze on the tiles. The process Clay Squared uses is called once firing where we glaze the greenware or unbaked clay and fire it all at once. The process takes around 12 hours to get to temperature and to cool down and take out the tiles of the kiln and load into boxes for pick up or delivery.
tiles on a sheet rock board
As you can see Clay Squared uses a lot of low tech techniques to make the tiles, techniques used for thousands of years dating back to Egyptian times. Each tile is handled nine separate times before it is given to the customer to installed into their home or purchased for their collection of tiles.
Glazed tiled hot out of kiln
Bird Mosaic Part 1: Making Tile
Working with David Aichinger (mosaic artist). We are making an 8 ft. by 6 ft. custom mosaic bird as part of an exterior 40 ft. by 20 ft. mural at the Maplewood Mall in MN.
The Clay Squared studio is open from 11 – 5 Monday – Saturday and you are always welcome to visit the studio and see how the tiles are made.