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The deVOL Journal

The story of our Vintage Lace Handmade Tiles

22nd August 2019

By Hannah Livesley

This gorgeous, clunky and full-of-stories bit of kit is our new, but very old, Victorian tile press.

We purchased the press from a gentleman based in Stoke on Trent, the home of ceramics, who has been in the business of making handmade tiles for years. As he was retiring, and in need of clearing out his home studio, he handpicked us to be the new owners of his treasured press after seeing we designed and made unique ceramic tiles.

Our usual method of making tiles is rolling stoneware clay to form a slab and hand-cutting each one in an array of different sizes, quite heavy work when we are working on large projects!

The tile press works in a totally different way.

Using Earthenware clay powder, the powder is carefully scattered into the mould.

Earthenware is fired in the kiln to a lower temperature which is ideal for making tiles and means that there is less risk of warping.

By releasing the large swinging arms, this creates the right momentum to force the heavy ‘punch’ down and press perfectly into the mould. After a few swings and a firm stamp on the pedal, the pressed tile is now clear to carefully pull away from the press. It’s fascinating that dry powder can be instantly turned into a tile!

I’m a collector of interestingly patterned objects and fabrics and had a box full of vintage lace I had collected from my grandmother. She used to own a fabric shop in Nottingham and sold locally produced Nottingham lace, made using the old traditional techniques. My favourite piece is this macramé lace that was part of a delicate voile.

When the lace was pressed onto the tile, it perfectly captured the intricate details.

Experimenting with different glaze colours led to a colour palette made for the lace’s vintage heritage. Warm, rusty yellows, tinged blues and delicate blush pinks highlighted this look and enhanced the appearance of making something newly made, look old.

Old Victorian tiles, that the press would have originally made, were often installed in porch ways, fire surrounds and found in London tube stations and pubs. A large square tile is complemented with a decorative, embossed trim, that oozes the ornate style of the Victorian era.

Our collection of tile press tiles includes a developing selection of plain and decorative tiles to create the same vintage look.

We are finalising our latest collection and hope to launch this very soon. In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into how our tile press tiles are made.

If  you’d like to be updated when our new collection is ready, please pop me across an email on or call for a chat on 01509 234000.


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