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How It's Made: Sakura

By Shannon Malone |

handpainted fireclay tile sakura tile manufacturing process

Sakura all started with the designs.  Carefully crafted and curated, Sakura features patterns inspired by iconic Japanese landscapes–Contemporary references to the natural world are expressed with hints of mountains, tortoise shells, river rocks and florals.  Knowing we wanted to bring the collection to life in a fresh, contemporary way, we went through a long, yet exciting process to get Sakura where it is today.  Our design team and Handpainted department went through rounds and rounds of glaze tests, pattern combinations, dry line colors, eventually narrowing it down to the final 12 patterns and 3 colorways we have introduced to you with the launch of Sakura this week.  Now lets take a look at the process behind bringing Sakura to life.

First there were the patterns, which we worked alongside the talented designer Susanne Redfield to perfect.  After narrowing down the patterns to our final 12, simple black and white line drawings were created to get the process started.

sensu, woven grass sakura fireclay tile line drawings

Next comes the glaze tests.  Finding the right color combinations and glazes that will work well with the pattern is key.  We went through a variety of color choices before landing on our final 3 color motifs, White, Neutral, and Green.  Our White and Neutral choices were the first made, after realizing the subtle matte glaze finishes used for our EDGE tile line were perfect for the patterns of Sakura.  The choice for a the Green Motif came last, after realizing we wanted to introduce some fresh, Spring inspired color to the organic, nature-inspired collection.

fireclay tile sakura tile layouts

handpainting department, aromas california

After the color motifs were finalized, glaze sheets were created for reference while painting the designs.

sakura collection line planning, color designs

And then the fun begins!  We use a traditional screen printing technique to apply the Sakura patterns on to bisque tiles.

making sakura tile at the factory

The dry line screen printed on to the tile creates a wax resist so our Handpainters can carefully paint between each line without the color running from section to section.

handpainting sakura process

Then the painters begin, using bottle with a bulb syringe tip to apply a steady flow of glaze to the tile.

applying feldspar color tone to sakura tile design by hand

fireclay tile handpainting team in action

Once the tiles are painted they are placed on a drying rack where they are transported to the kiln for firing.

drying rack process in creating beautiful handpainted sakura tile at the factory

Finally, our Sakura tiles go through the final stage, firing.  Our kiln reaches around 2,000 degrees, and transforms the tile into the beautiful Sakura pieces you see on our website.

handpainted tile pieces on dry rack at aromas ca factory

Here at Fireclay we have always been deeply rooted in tradition, which is why we are especially fond of our Handpainted Tile collections, both classic and new.  We've been making Handpainted tiles in our Aromas, California factory since 1993 and pride ourselves on being one of the few US Tile manufacturers that produces 100% of our product, from the recycled clay body to our own unique lead-free glazes.

Love Sakura?  Order a sample 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.