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1920 Ombre glaze on tile

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I've been trying to find reproductions of the ombre tile on my 1920 home's fireplace with no luck.  I've been toying with the idea of getting some unfinished tile and whipping up a batch since I have access to a kiln. 

All the ombre under glaze instructions I've found either have you painting and doing a bunch blending or doing a spray/airbrush to achieve the gradient. 

Looking at the examples attached how do you think they did this at production scale? The randomness of the gradient from tile to tile to me says a spray technique wasn't used. And I'm sure they didn't do a "paint and blend' on a production line. 

How do you think the gradient effect was achieved? Image attached.


Thanks in advance!


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Hi Cleachim!

Good question, curious if the effect is related to temperature and/or atmosphere gradient in the kiln?

If it's done via the glaze (or underglaze) only, why not by spraying?

...did some looking


...didn't find anything on commercial set up for glazing tiles.


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Looks sprayed to me, a d in 1920 they didn't have automated machines to spray uniformly, so you'd definitely be getting variation like that.  The only other thing I can think of is that maybe they were fired with their faces towards the fuel source and some of the chrome (if that was used, looks like a chrome glaze to me) vaporized leaving an area lighter than the rest.

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If it is a glaze with chrome in it I don't think you would want to try making,  applying or firing.  These tiles were probably fired with wood or gas almost impossible to replicate in a electric kiln.   I notice a seller on Ebay that seemed to specialize Victorian fireplace mantle tile.  He had sets listed but he might have some small tile groupings.  If you contacted him he might look for the tile you need,  he would need a photo and the different size and shapes of the tiles.  Good luck   Denice

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I think if I we’re doing it I would spray the base glaze and use a touch up gun (Maybe 1.5 mm tip) to spray the dark glaze by hand semi randomly. If I got real creative I would layout all the tiles (numbered)   as they would be final installed and connect the semi random pattern from tile to tile a bit to drive the next guy bonkers as to how it was done. The Ombré to me looks more like a gentle feather not so much ombré.

From what I see the tile did not fail, the bed did. You might be able to bridge it with an uncoupled membrane if you can’t stop the movement and deflection or it’s just too hard to fix the old bed reliably. I think I would bridge the new tiles regardless. For these areas not to reflect the crack underneath we would try to limit the deflection on the order of 1/360 th of the span which is a pretty small movement.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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I do think that spraying might be the easiest way to get close to this affect. To me, it looks like a dip method of some type was used. I'd have to post more pictures to show why. If it was a spray method they would have had to use a conical spray vs flat spray I think.   But I'm no ceramics artist.

The glaze is so pretty I thought it may be a known and well used technique. However, it could be lost to time.  I'm going to keep hunting and if I figure it out I'll let y'all know. 


The brick arch under the hearth has settled. The plan is to reinforce it with framing and bracing. We were discussing about taking the bed down a half inch or so and installing a semi floating concrete board panel as a decoupling layer as well. 


Thanks everyone for your input!

Edited by Cleachim
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