Handmade Tile Production Process
All of our encaustic tiles, both antique and reproduction, are hand made. Encaustic tiles have an unmistakably rich appearance and wear and age beautifully.
Encaustic tiles are cement tiles with the pattern an integral part of the its structure so as the tile ages and wears the pattern and colour remain. The production is central to this phenomenon.
Wet coloured cement is poured into the copper mould which is then removed. Pressure is applied using a hydraulic press giving it its form. The tile is then left to air dry!
Encaustic tiles are still made individually by the artisan in the traditional way, which adds a luxurious depth, mood and elegance. When touching an authentic encaustic tile there is an almost otherworldly feeling that you are placing your fingers (or toes) on history.
Depending on the locale, cement tiles have many names and manufacturing techniques used to create them. They are most commonly known as patterned tiles or decorative tiles.
To view finished tiles using this process, please visit our reproduction and antique tile galleries.
Hydraulic tile production originated in Spain, but quickly spread around the world, as the technique excluded the need for firing, therefore allowing for faster and more affordable cement tile production. This involved using a hydraulic press and a mould to apply a multi-coloured pattern into the tile. The materials used to create these tiles were Portland cement, marble sand and pigments.
The hydraulic tile technique made its way to Havana, Cuba in 1886, with local designers quickly stamping their dramatic signature style on this technique, thus the name Cuban tiles was borne. In Havana today, there are many old buildings that still have the original Cuban tiles from this era – their history and beauty is irreplaceable.
CARREAUX DE CIMENT
In France, encaustic tiles are referred to as carreaux de ciment. They first appeared in the late 1800’s in the South of France. These cement tiles with their wonderful colours and patterns and durability were used in many landmark public buildings and palaces throughout France, and remain popular today with many manufacturers creating new designs for architects and designers worldwide.
Tessellation describes a pattern being repeated continually with no spaces between the patterns. It is derived from the Greek word “tesseres” which means 4, and thus the pattern is created with 4 tiles, repeated over and over on a floor or wall. Encaustic tiles today are often referred to as tessellated tiles due to the repetition that is created with the pattern.
As with tessellated tiles, the term mosaic tiles refers to the pattern created from the use of encaustic tiles as opposed to the means used to create the styles. Mosaic is a technique of decorative art that can refer to many different mediums. Images or a pattern are created by assembling the tiles, or pieces of tiles into an artwork.