"The chief source of art is man's pleasure in his daily work, which expresses itself and is embodied in that art itself."
William Morris (1834-1896)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tile Floor

I've mentioned in an earlier post that we are trying to tile part of our living room floor. Most of the flooring is white oak but we needed to put something besides wood on the part of the floor that all my orchids are on since they are misted daily. (Yes, I know I should have a greenhouse, but....) Then again the wood stove is in the center of the northeast wall so having a wood floor instead of an official hearth was also not great. So we long ago decided to make our own tiles and create an L shape along the side of the living room by the stove and by the windows where the plants are. We already had been making some field & decorative tiles for others on a very small scale. Because we are not "tilemakers" per se, we are not set up to mass produce tiles, ie... we should be ram pressing tiles for efficiency or slab rolling them for uniqueness. Instead, we have made our own plaster molds around forms in this case made from plywood. Solid casting tiles is not the usual way to go but it works for us for a small production. The decorated tiles we sell at art fairs were made by Cherie sculpting images in bas relief on the surface of a cast tile and then making a mold around that.

For this home improvement project, we had to cast a whole lot of field tiles. It seems like we've been doing this forever! Now that we are nearing the end of the project, I thought you might like to see some photos. Some of these were posted earlier; I've repeated them here just to have a continuity.

The photos above are all about solid casting a tile form. We mix our own porcelain slip which you see Steve pouring into the molds. Each mold has two holes on one side, one into which the slip is poured and the other where the slip comes out after it has completely filled the cavity. Slip is kept in the two funnels during the casting time to create a pressure of sorts. Once the appropriate time is up, the funnels and extra slip is removed and the tile remains in the closed mold until the plaster has absorbed the water from the clay. When the mold can be released from the back side, the tile has set up enough to plug the two holes. After some more set up time, the tiles are flipped out onto a plaster bat to set up further before we handle them without misshaping them.

This photo is of Steve cutting special sizes for around the stove and windows. We did not cut them after they were fired. It was easier for us to do custom make the shapes needed and it produced a smoother edge. Here are some drying on a rack with others behind them that have been glazed and ready to fire and one finished one.

Now for the laying of the tiles:
We put down tile board last year (!) This summer we finally had accumulated enough tiles to lay them out and see how they looked. We started in the corner.

Once we determined that we had almost enough tile to complete the installation,
Steve set the tile with adhesive.

To determine whether the grout color was to our liking, we made a mock up.

Grouting the tile was quite a messy job....let Cherie do that!

Grout is done. We are now waiting for it to dry before sealing the entire floor. Then of course there is some finishing to do, like the edging between the wood and the tile. We'll post some more photos when the floor is done and we've moved back into our living room!

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