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Raku Tiles In The Shower


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#1 Kohaku

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:48 PM

Hi all...

 

I was at a show this past weekend, and a buyer looked at some of my raku work- and wondered if I could make some custom tiles for his bathroom.

 

I'd see no issue with doing this on surfaces that stayed dry for the most part... but I was hesitant to suggest that he put anything porous like a raku tile in a place it might get wet regularly (like inside a shower stall). I guess I'd worry about Mildew, and about the impact of abrasive cleaners on a regular basis.

 

I tend to use high-silica 'raku' glazes... so my colors don't tend to fade like some of the classic matte lusters. Maybe if I stuck to glazes that were fully mature at raku temperatures I'd be OK... but I was curious as to what people thought. Maybe there's some sealant I could recommend?

 

Here are a couple examples from my own kitchen...

 

IMG_3006_zpsc4efb5a5.jpg

 

IMG_3018_zpsdd448d67.jpg


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#2 Mark C.

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:52 PM

Backspashes are just fine but ant wet surface-shower stalls or flat top counters are just going to be problematic.

Coatings are just mistakes wating to happen.

Mark


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#3 mnnaj

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 09:54 PM

beautiful work



#4 Pres

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 09:59 PM

Great pieces, but to use them in a shower. Uhh, I think the absorbancy would cause the glaze to be gone in a year.


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#5 CLN studios

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 11:57 PM

I had a raku bowl that was starting to look grungey from being picked up so often, so  i washed. grunge still there. so i let it soak in some highly abrasive cleaner, 12 hours later. Finish is almost completely gone (patches of bare clay were peeking through)  



#6 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:44 AM

Ken, 

Your instincts are right. Raku is too porous for the shower situation.Maybe tiles elsewhere in the bathroom would satisfy the customer. Beautiful work.

 

Marcia



#7 Pres

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 08:11 AM

The only other solution I see as far as using raku tiles in a wet area would be if they were underneath something like "bar topper" I epoxy resin that is pretty well indestructible. Problem is it has to be poured on to the surface to 1/16 of an inch, and is self leveling. Vertical surfaces would have to be constructed laying down and then raised. Hmmmm, you could encase your raku tiles in bar topper individually and then put them in like regular tiles. It would mean building a casting mold lined with a release agent. Stuff is really strong, but will glue anything to it,


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#8 g-bus

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 12:33 PM

How about a good quality tile/grout sealer, like for natural stone and porous tile? Assuming the tiles were fired to vitrification. I've worked in flooring for quite a few years and have used this stuff called Miracle 511 (I think that's the name, but it may have changed recently) and works great. I don't know how/if it would protect the glaze much, but it's a penetrating sealer so might get in there and at least slow any deterioration. Would have to be reapplied occasionally, but that's a small price for some sweet looking tiles.



#9 NancyAmores

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 11:30 PM

Those seascape/mountainscape tiles are stunning, really love your work.



#10 Colby Charpentier

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 12:13 AM

If the rest of the tile is going to be commercial just like in the photos, it may not be worthwhile... But yes, 511 is a good option, in spite of it being rather expensive. Are you throwing the tiles?



#11 Min

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 05:03 AM

Gorgeous work! 

 

I like your idea of using low fire glazes that mature in your temp range but wouldn't that rule out any of the copper luster type glazes? If you could just use the former and then run some accelerated wear tests on them like repeatedly scrubbing them with an abrasive bathroom cleanser, soaking with a strong bleach solution and or cleaner, absorption test by boiling then leaving in water for a few days to see the increase in crazing etc Not sure if I would rely on a sealer, could work great but if it fails then it would be one heck of an expensive fail.

 

Perhaps if the tiles were just running along the top of the bath/shower area where they don't get very wet or as accent pieces on a wall outside the bath/shower area? Kitchens and bath being the expensive home reno projects that they are, this might be worth pursuing for future sales.

 

Since commercial wall tiles are quite thin, and I'm guessing your tiles are thicker than that, would the customer have to use floor tiles for the rest of the install so the tile thickness is closer? 



#12 Kohaku

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:21 PM

Thanks for all the feedback and commentary.

 

We've been re-doing our own shower- so I decided to go ahead and use myself as a guinea pig. Here's the installation... time will tell. I hope that with the maturation temperature of these glazes and the reduced splash on the back wall, I might be OK. Not sure I'll ever go this route with a customer, however.

 

IMG_2990_zpse0caa1c4.jpg

 

I'm also taking a couple extra (failed) tiles and running some accelerated tests, in line with Min's suggestions above.

 

There was a really good discussion on Digi-fire about Raku and fading... the glazes I use are formulated to avoid the classic copper-luster fade... so I guess the real questions relate to mildew and other moisture-related issues.

 

Interestingly- these are the same glazes as in the photo on top of the thread... gotta love Raku. Colby- I am throwing the tiles... too much fracturing with a slab roller in my experience.


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#13 vmiller

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:40 AM

How do you throw a tile? I've only used slabs or a tile press.

#14 Kohaku

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:30 PM

How do you throw a tile? I've only used slabs or a tile press.

 

You throw a flat disc on the wheel (usually on a bat) then wire cut and slow dry. Lots of compression during the throw. I've experienced less cracking with this approach than with other types of slabs... which is important if you're doing Raku.


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#15 vmiller

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:33 PM

Can you do that on a plaster bat and not wire cut?

#16 Kohaku

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:51 PM

Can you do that on a plaster bat and not wire cut?

 

I've never used plaster bats... but I suspect it would work. You'd have to experiment and see whether the separation from the bat would lead to a higher fracture rate.


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