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Old 02-13-2019, 08:10 PM   #1
paintchip
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Fireplace tiles. Can Unsealed Saltillo be sponge painted and decently glazed/sealed?

I have a fireplace project and can't find a company that makes reproductions of the old Batchelder tiles. Or even something close. The best I have found are porcelain tiles that are uniform in their texture, edges, and with some minor variation in color shade from a printed / mass produced color pattern.

I have just about given up trying to find someone who sells irregular, high color variation tiles like those in the attached photo.

But I do have about 30 sq ft of unsealed, saltillo tiles leftover from a previous project. They are exceptionally rustic with the gouges/divots/color variation.

Has anyone seen a good technique or method to sponge paint and then seal or glaze saltillo tiles in green, red, beige, and brown variations??
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Old 02-13-2019, 10:36 PM   #2
jadnashua
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For a durable finish, you might want to try to find someone with a kiln, and glaze them, then have them fired. You might find one at a school that would be willing to either let you use it, or to use your tiles as a project for the students. Continuing ed classes might let you gain access to the equipment with some skilled help in the instructor.

Depending on the configuration of the fireplace, paint may not be the safest or longest lasting solution...glaze is tough.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:39 AM   #3
Davy
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Most Saltillo tiles are sun cured so they've never gone thru a kiln. One thing I remember from high school ceramics class is, we always tried to avoid air pockets because they sometimes cause the project to explode in the kiln, many times ruining other projects during the firing. Saltillo does have small voids and air pockets so I would experiment with a few before making a masterpiece.

You can buy a small kiln for a few hundred bucks. You might find a good deal on Craigslist. I bought a small one years ago for about 220 dollars that run on 110. I went to the Dal tile factory and bought a box of 4 1/4 unglazed tiles and let my kids draw on them with glaze, then I fired them.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:23 AM   #4
paintchip
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Thanks so much Jim and Davy. Especially regarding glaze, voids, air pockets, and the kilns.

Much learning to be done on my side - but thats part of the fun and accomplishemnt. It will likely be a few months before I get the first decent samples made.

I'll post some pictures in case persons are interested. And probably mention a few of the hiccups along the way
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:33 AM   #5
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Also you will want to glaze and fire all tiles that you use at the same time. Every firing is different and will achieve different results. so if you do a small kiln and fire multiple times you will likely achieve significant variation.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:53 PM   #6
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Years ago we used a topical sealer mixed with a stain, or a stain first, then the sealer. It was in condos that all had saltillo, but the home buyers could pick the color of stain for their unit. A lot of importers of saltillo would use stains to color the saltillo. It might give you the variation you are looking for. I'm not sure how long it will last. It might be something you have to redo depending on the wear.
Test it out on one piece, and see what it looks like.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:18 PM   #7
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Go to Pasadena Craftsman Tile or Heritage Tile or Revival Arts Studio.
They will have what you want
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:53 PM   #8
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Jim, please do come back with a follow up.
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