Handpainted How It's Made: Off to the Factory | Fireclay Tile
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Handpainted How It's Made: Off to the Factory

Handpainted How It's Made: Off to the Factory

There is nothing more inspirational to an artist than the actual fabrication of the dream, and the place where it all happens, the factory.  The heat from the kilns, the smell of wet clay, show stopping color, machinery grinding, churning, compressing, chopping, spraying, all of this gets the creative energy ignited.  The factory in Aromas, California is the heart of Fireclay, and is the reason we all do what we do, from the CEO, to the chemists, the social media team, to the glazers, the shippers, to the managers and especially the artists.  The factory is the next step in bringing a Handpainted collection to life.

Handpainted mural design

Once a design has passed several edits by the design team the artwork gets sent to the factory where it is turned into a screen. Most designs are between four to twelve inches in size, but sometimes our projects are scaled up. The challenge is to find just the right size for the application, visualizing sparkling tile from paper and ink.

Example of a design translated onto a screen

Blank bisque tiles are screened using our proprietary wax resist technique and left to dry before glaze is applied with a bulb syringe.

Our Moroccan pattern, Kabuki Sphere being handpainted

Painting tiles with glaze is not for the faint of heart. Glazes look chalky and subdued before they are fired. Too much glaze applied, or too little will affect the final outcome.  The transformation in the kiln is remarkable.  An obsession with perfection and a steady hand is required in the Handpainted department.

Once the tile and glaze is dry it is ready for trial by fire. Placed on the rollers the tile will be exposed to extremely high temperatures in the kiln, then cooled down again.

Our new Starburst design glazed and waiting to be fired

Starburst from our Contemporary Collection coming out of the kiln

The tile emerges and the metamorphose is complete. The excitement and thrill when the first prototype comes into view is palpable. Even after 35 years of imagining, designing, and then making tile, I am still surprised and delighted. The final product is by no means a given, there is a serendipity to the making of tile, fire and oxygen will have their way, so it truly is a collaboration between artist and atmosphere.

Falling in love with Handpainted?  Shop the new collections now.  Need some help?  SImply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.