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Les

Best Clay for Press Molding Tile?

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Hi everyone,

While teaching a class how to make plaster press molds of tiles, everyone wanted to know the best clay mix to use to prevent warping during drying and firing. I currently use a medium grog red sculpture clay for midrange firing. More detail-- most tiles are about 4x4' and I suggest about 3/4" thickness similar to the way Grueby made their tiles 100 years ago.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions on best clay, methods, or brands that they have used with success?

 

Thanks,

Les

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Hi Les, I have made tiles using various types of clay. I have used low fire clay, cone 05, and mid fire clay, cone 5. I have used red, white and buff, with grog and without. And I find that it's really a matter of how you dry your tiles. Since you did not tell us where you are located I suggest you should call or visit your local clay supplier and ask for their recommendations. I buy my clay from Amadillo Clay and Supplies in Austin, Texas. In my experience I have had best results with less warping by sandwiching my tiles between two drywall boards if the tile have no relief details. I have made tiles with reliefs that I press on a 1/4" S2S board and then placed into my drying cabnets that are sealed with 4mil clear plastic on all sides. This allows slow drying, which can take up to two weeks, depending on humidity levels. The more control you have on humidity the less chances of warping. Marko

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Hi Les, I have made tiles using various types of clay. I have used low fire clay, cone 05, and mid fire clay, cone 5. I have used red, white and buff, with grog and without. And I find that it's really a matter of how you dry your tiles. Since you did not tell us where you are located I suggest you should call or visit your local clay supplier and ask for their recommendations. I buy my clay from Amadillo Clay and Supplies in Austin, Texas. In my experience I have had best results with less warping by sandwiching my tiles between two drywall boards if the tile have no relief details. I have made tiles with reliefs that I press on a 1/4" S2S board and then placed into my drying cabnets that are sealed with 4mil clear plastic on all sides. This allows slow drying, which can take up to two weeks, depending on humidity levels. The more control you have on humidity the less chances of warping. Marko

 

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Marko,

Thanks for yor reply. So, I usually dry my tiles just as you suggest. I use 1/2" Sheetrock and dry for at least two weeks, slow and steady, no rush at all. By the way I'm located in the New York area and my clay is from Ceramic Supply out of Lodi, NJ. The clay is a S108 clay that fires in the C4-10 range. But, from what you're suggesting, the trick is almost entirely in the slow drying, and has very little to do with the type of clay used.

 

I appreciate your input Marko.

My thanks again,

Les

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Marko,

Thanks for yor reply. So, I usually dry my tiles just as you suggest. I use 1/2" Sheetrock and dry for at least two weeks, slow and steady, no rush at all. By the way I'm located in the New York area and my clay is from Ceramic Supply out of Lodi, NJ. The clay is a S108 clay that fires in the C4-10 range. But, from what you're suggesting, the trick is almost entirely in the slow drying, and has very little to do with the type of clay used.

 

I appreciate your input Marko.

My thanks again,

Les

 

 

 

HI, I fire at cone 6 elc. I mix my own clay it is a modified cone 10 clay body that will vitrify at cone 6. I can get a finished tile to a thickness of about 3/8 of an inch. Most of my tiles are sculpted so I can't trap them between sheetrock although I have before for field tiles. I use a lot of grog in my mix, it allows me to make a tile, set it on a plaster bat and let it dry slow like a pot and I seldom have trouble with warpage. But mixing your own clay can be a pain. Good luck with your tile . The world needs more. Have fun. Kabe

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Another alternative may be process related and not clay body related.

The forming method that allows for the least movement and shrinkage in drying is damp dust pressing.

This may not be feasible in your current studio but it is worth learning about in case it could be worked in to your current setup.

 

Harry Davis writes about damp dust pressing in his book "Potters Alternative"

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Hi, I do a lot of mural work cutting my own tiles. I have run the gammit of using different types of clay. For me the two most important things are a) slow drying and when i cut tiles I never ever move them until they a leathery hard, bending them even the slightest amount leads to the evil warp. I know how tempting it is just slide, lift or nudge them into postion. Just dont. I tried to post a link here but failed. Have a look at youtube......the making of a mural by trina doerr and you can see how i handle about 400 tiles from cutting to installation. Hope that helps tiles are wonderful and can really get exciting. Trina

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