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The deVOL Journal

Handmade Tiles – The Inside Story

22nd July 2016

By Sophie McKay

I’m sure you’ve seen by now our utterly gorgeous, truly unique handmade ceramic tiles. Hannah, one of the lovely members of our team here at Floors of Stone, has designed and made the tiles, so I thought it would be a nice idea to learn more about Hannah and the inspiration behind the tiles. Here are the answers to some of our burning questions and also some questions from our customers.

Where are the tiles made?

The tiles are made on our onsite ceramics studio here at Cotes Mill. One of the old outbuildings was renovated last year and is now equipped with two kilns, work benches and an array of different clays and glazes.

What is your inspiration for the tiles?  What influenced your designs?

My inspiration comes from our stunning Cotes Mill showroom, full of history and character and surrounded by beautiful, lush grounds. The roofs of the Dove house were a particular influence and I took that pattern into my own designs.

I took influence from the simple and beautifully crafted kitchens by our sister company deVOL. Their range of kitchens have been lovingly made and I think about each tile design working with their style of kitchens.

Interior trade shows are also an influence. Many trends to look out for are ‘Nature made’ and ‘Human made’, celebrating the spirit of nature and the return to the essential beauty of craftsmanship.

How long did it take for you to perfect your designs?

I took a few months experimenting with a whole range of objects that I printed into the clay. From there I refined my designs, looking at which patterns worked best and I worked on perfecting my method of making. I still continue to develop my designs and I always look out for a new pattern or object to print.

Which design was the most fun to create? Do you have a favourite design?

The Cotes Meadow collection with the hand pressed flowers has to be my favourite. I take myself away from the studio and go on a wander around the grounds of the mill, collecting pretty meadow flowers and grasses. It is really fun pressing the flowers into the clay and it makes each tile truly unique. I’ve just finished a bespoke order for a customer who wanted the Cotes meadow flowers trailing up either side of her splashback – it was so fun to create and the finished tiles looked beautiful. We can’t wait to go and photograph it!

What type of clay do you use for the tiles and why did you choose this?

The clay I use is called New Lava which features natural oxides. When fired, these oxides create pretty speckles for a lovely subtle pattern.

Is clay an interesting material to work with?

TV programmes such as The BBC’s The Great British Throw Down have shown people the magic of clay.  By simply using your hands and a few select tools you can transform a ball of clay into stunning works of art or functional objects to be used in your home.

What is the hardest part about making the tiles?

The hardest part is keeping the tiles square and flat as clay struggles to be in perfect, straight forms. I have used many trial and error methods to make them perfect and it’s something I continue to improve.

Did you have any disasters?

After the tiles have been cut out they need to be fully dry before bisque firing. For this I store the tiles on plaster boards, which keeps them flat and soaks up moisture. I once went to pick up a board and it completely snapped in half sending all the tiles crashing to the floor!

What did you study? Has this helped you with creating the tiles?

I studied Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent University where I specialised in ceramics and illustration. Throughout my studies I learned about the different techniques and processes and ended my degree with a collection of ceramic bird sculptures. Although I have never made tiles before, having this experience with ceramics has definitely helped me. (You can see Hannah’s degree collection here: http://www.hannahlivesley.com/)

If you enjoyed learning more about our handmade tiles, you’ll love this video over on our Instagram, showing how Hannah creates her favourite Cotes Meadow pattern:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BHUvCfWB3qX/?taken-by=floorsofstone

You can also see more information about the tiles and the different designs on our website here.

If you have any more questions for Hannah, or want to learn more about our handmade tiles, then please feel free to send them across to enquiries@floorsofstone.com.

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