Wednesday, 8 July 2015

On the tiles!

I feel I should begin with the genesis of this weeks blog. About three years ago my good friend (and incredibly talented designer) Paula Pascual made the most wonderful tiles and coasters using an assortment of techniques featuring different inks, paints and the humble embossing folder. A year later I was teaching in the beautiful city of Porto where many of the old buildings are decorated with blue and white tiles and the entrance to the central railway station is just stunning as you can see below.

I used the photographs that I took in Porto as inspiration for a blog at the time and I always meant to revisit and develop the idea when I stumbled across a mosaic picture frame in a junk shop last week and...... here we are!

I used the following folders to create this blog but there are many others that would work just as well... check your stash!!
I started by measuring my chosen frame which is flat and unadorned. Next, I created a random tile pattern which I then numbered. I also filled the individual rectangles with shades of blue to help with my composition.

I Printed out the sketch and attached it to a piece of white mount board using spray adhesive. It is quite important to use a thick material like mount board because it doesn't warp when the glaze is applied later. I then cut the board into individual tiles with the numbers on the rear.

Before starting, I separated the tiles into four piles according to the colour chart that I had created. Next,I chose a selection of Distress inks in various shades of blue namely Tumbled Glass, Broken China, Faded Jeans and Stormy Sky. Starting with the lightest shade (Tumbled glass) I applied the ink pad directly to the inside of the folder on the positive side only. This will now act as a printing plate while embossing through the Big Shot.

Here are the results alongside another set of tiles printed/embossed with Faded Jeans Distress ink.

For the glaze I applied both Glossy Accents and Crackle Accents to get some variety, it looks a bit milky to begin with but it dries perfectly clear. Here's a little tip; put your pot of glossy or crackle accents into a cup of hot water for about 30 seconds, this will help it flow smoother from the bottle.

The tiles are best left until the next day before using. I started to attach them using the same glossy accents which also makes the most fantastic glue!

The next step was to mix some texture paste (or Modelling Paste) with a little Tea Dye Distress ink just to kill the bright white finish. I then applied the paste in the gaps between the tiles with my fingertips while wiping away any excess from the tiles using a damp cloth. 

Believe me, it's much more fun than grouting the bathroom!

Here is the finished frame complete with  a picture of a little lady who is far more photogenic than her Daddy! I love the random imperfect nature of the inking technique it makes the final piece all the more authentic. The grout between the tiles has started to shrink and crack which only adds adds to the effect.

Below are a few close-ups of the tiles....enjoy!


  1. Wonderful! Though it's so easy the results are absolutely amazing! But how do you get the crackling effect on the tiles? Is it the combination of texture paste and glossy surface or is the texture paste a crackling medium itself? I like the look - can't wait to make my own "tiles" :) Thanks for the inspiration
    best wishes, Irmgard

  2. Wait - already solved - sorry, I skipped glossy accents on top - understood :)

  3. Thanks, it takes a little time and planning but the results are so rewarding, I'm happy that you enjoyed it

  4. Well done Pete: Great effect! And it is perfect for the IKEA mirror I've had several years waiting for the right moment to do something with it!

  5. That's why I never throw anything away, I'm just waiting for the moment!! Thanks Karen