How to Make Your Own Decorative Wall Tiles
An excellent way to ensure that your home reflects your own sense of style is to make your own wall tiles. You can also design them to fit in perfectly with the rest of your décor. The best part is that it will probably save you money as well.
Step 1 – Mix Clay
Half-fill the bucket with water, then add the commercial clay slowly until you can't add any more without it forming a mound above the water. Leave the bucket overnight then pour off any remaining water. Remove the clay from the bucket and place it outside in the sun on plastic sheeting to dry for a few days. The clay will dry if it is cloudy or even cold enough to freeze. After handling the clay don't wash your hands in the sink as it will clog the pipes. Fill another bucket with water for rinsing your hands. Eventually you will be able to remove the clay that gathers at the bottom and reuse it.
Step 2 – Wedge Clay
When the clay is no longer sticky take it to your work area. A workbench or some plywood covered with canvas or an old sheet is ideal. Take a chunk of the clay about the size of a head of cabbage to work with. Wrap the remainder in plastic to keep it moist. Now you need to wedge the clay to remove all of the air from the mixture. Air pockets will expand when you fire the tiles and cause them to explode. Sprinkle a small amount of sand onto your worktop then knead the clay like you would bread dough. An effective method to expel the air is holding the clay above your head and throwing it down onto the surface repeatedly with as much force as you can. Test the clay by cutting it in two using a piece of string. If the cut has a smooth line without crevices or air holes then you are done. Place the 2 pieces back together and knead then thoroughly.
Step 3 – Roll and Cut
Flatten the clay using your hands then use a rolling pin to achieve a thickness of around 3/8 of an inch. Use the ruler and knife to make an even rectangle if you want square tiles or simply cut out whatever shape of tile you want. Keep the scraps to be wedged and formed into more tiles or wrap them in plastic for use in another project. Leave the cut tiles to sit for 24 hours before turning them over and leaving them for another day.
Step 4 – Decorate
On the second day of drying you can use a pencil or knife to mark out a pattern in the tile if you want. Alternative methods of applying a pattern include pressing items such as leaves or shells into the tile to leave their imprint.
Step 5 – Fire
When the tiles are totally dry you must fire them to make them permanent otherwise they will turn into mud when they make contact with water. Place the tiles in the bottom of a fireplace and build the fire over the top of them. Keep a good fire burning all day, then leave the tiles in the coals overnight. In the morning rake the tiles out of the ashes and seal them with waterproof sealer.