26th January 2021
In the summer of last year, an email popped into my inbox from a lovely customer who had spotted our Cotes Mill tiles whilst searching for inspiration for a handmade splashback. She was at the beginning of her kitchen renovation project and wanted to create a kitchen that was peaceful and bright with hints of nature all around.
The process from our first email to excitingly placing an order started with packing up and sending off a few samples so that the customer could look and feel the tiles first hand. I find it so important to get a sample first, it not only helps when pairing colour swatches for the wall colour or kitchen cupboards but I think it gives that first feeling of a handmade tile. They’re completely different to a normal mass-produced tile, the tactile surface and interesting pattern of the raw clay even on the back of the tile, really shows how different it is and I feel, clinches that decision to go with handmade.
After the samples have been approved and the order confirmed, hurray! It’s now time for me to start making! The tiles start life quite simply really, and it’s a very hands-on process of rolling large blocks of clay to just the right thickness. I luckily have the help of a piece of kit in the studio called a slab roller and as the name would suggest, each turn of the rollers carefully rolls out the clay to form a large slab.
For this order I am making our Dove House and Whitechapel tiles in 150x150mm size, which are beautifully patterned tiles that work so well together to create a tactile surface. The patterns are created using our specially designed 3d prints that I firmly press onto the clay once the slab has been rolled. After about a day or until the clay has had time to firm, I use our handmade tile cutters to cut each tile out.
The tiles are then placed onto boards to dry slowly and gently in the drying room of the studio to make sure all moisture has escaped. Once dry, the tiles need to go through two firings in the kiln. The first is a bisque fire, which turns the tile from clay into ceramic and the second and final firing is the glaze fire, which is where I will apply our simple white glaze. This final fire is also when the tiles get fired to the hottest temperature of around 1230°c! So as you can imagine, it is always a nervous wait for the kiln to cool to check the tiles have survived the heat.
When completing an order and sending that anticipated email to the customer to say your tiles are on their way! Is such a great feeling and the best way to end the making process.
However, what I think makes it even better is receiving images a few months later when the customer’s project has come to a joyous completion and you get to see where those little squares of clay ended up.
This stunning kitchen instils a sense of calm and a space you could come home to and feel instantly relaxed. The collection of lovely treasures sitting along the shelf and the notes of nature that dot from different eye levels captures the sense of a space that has been beautifully considered.
Amongst it all, are pieces of handmade items from the perfectly imperfect crackle light shades to the crafted mugs and vases, and not forgetting the handmade splashback tiles! It really is a home that wanted to include craft and lovely collected things.
I am over the moon to have been a part of this kitchen project and it’s a dream to be able to share these photos of the tiles installed. If you would like further information or are interested in our handmade tiles, please contact me via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you and chat through your ideas!
Kitchen by Shere kitchens
Handmade Crackle Light Shades by deVOL Kitchens
Interior Designing by Arran & Hadley Interiors
Photography by Julia Currie Photography
Styling by Karen Mcbain
Handmade Splashback Tiles by Floors of Stone