In the Studio
Motawi Tileworks makes three kinds of tile:
- Polychrome tiles have many colors separated by a tiny ridge of clay. This particular style is known as cuenca.
- Relief tiles have a raised, sculptural quality and are hand-dipped in a single-color glaze.
- Field tiles are flat and hand-dipped in a single color-glaze.
Above left: A plaster mold with the inverted design is mounted into the top of the press.
Above right: A pug (block of clay) is placed on the bottom mold.
Above left: The 60-ton press closes on the pug, forming the tile. The extra clay flows out of the mold.
Above right: Air is used to release the tile from the top mold and the tile slides off the lower mold.
Above left: The tiles are placed on racks and await trimming.
Above right: Extra clay is trimmed away and recycled.
Above left: The rough edges are smoothed away.
Above right: The tile is then dried and bisque fired. After the tiles cool off, they’ll be unloaded for glazing.
Above left: Polychrome tiles are made by pooling the glazes with bulb syringes into the areas delineated by the tiny ridges of clay.
Above right: Relief and field tiles are hand-dipped in glaze. (The raw glaze color doesn’t indicate the final color of the glaze.)
Above left: After glazing, the tiles are loaded back into the kilns for their final firing.
Above right: When the tiles come out of the kilns, they are checked for flaws and sorted for packing and shipping.