How We Hand Craft Tile
A Time Honored Tradition
Ancient handmade tiles can be seen around the world, including Egypt, Rome and Asia. Clay Squared makes tiles using the same materials and techniques artisans have used for thousands of years. Through a sequence of nine steps, each finished tile is specially created for your home installation or tile collection. Our tiles are exterior grade with a 100 year life expectancy, handcrafted from a special mix of terra cotta clay.
Clay Squared tile is made using two methods: hand-rolling and extruding. Using the time-honored method of wedging clay to extract the air; our larger tiles, 8 inches or bigger, are made by placing the clay between two wooden slats to achieve uniform tile thickness, then hand-rolling it with a rolling pin. Tiles smaller than 6 inches are made with an extruder, which is basically a big pasta machine. We use hard plastic dies of varying shapes and sizes to push the clay through the die at the bottom end of the extruder in long strips.
Each strip of clay is placed on a sheetrock board to be cut with a pizza cutter to the desired length. We use a cookie cutter die to make fun shapes like peacocks, hexagons, and stars. Custom dies can be made upon request. The cut clay tile then cures for two days.
Once the tiles are dried, glaze is hand-brushed or poured onto the tiles, depending on the desired effect. When the glaze gets to the semi-dry state, the tile edges are scraped to ready them for kiln firing. The semi-dry state of the glaze helps reduce dust, making it easier to remove the overflow glaze before it fuses to the kiln shelves. The tiles dry an additional day before being loaded into the kiln.
The Firing Process
Clay Squared to Infinity tiles are fired to what is referred to in ceramics as “low-temperature” (cone 04 - 1,922° Fahrenheit). Careful spacing of the tiles in the kiln is necessary to prevent the tiles from fusing together. In the kiln, the glaze turns to glass and fuses to the now vitrified clay body.
Our tiles are fired only once. That is, the greenware (unbaked clay) is first glazed and then fired. (This differs from traditional firing methods where the tiles are bisque-fired before glazing and then put through an additional glaze firing.) After the tiles are dried and glazed, the kiln is loaded. The once-fired process takes approximately 24 hours: first to heat to temperature and then to cool the kiln. When the tiles are cool enough to touch, they are unloaded from the kiln, checked for quality, counted and then either packaged for shipping or boxed for showroom pick up. Commissioned tile installations commonly take 3-4 weeks to complete, start to finish, once an order is placed.