Art Deco Clay Tiles

Traditional Chinese Clay Tiled Roof

Clay has been used for centuries to create roof coverings, floors, piping to move water underground, hold water to drink, hold grain for dry  storage. Clay is dug from the earth, worked and molded into the object needed. It is very versatile.

Clay tiles are used for roofs and floors to cover and make water tight or move water away from pooling.

You are to design a clay tile in relief incorporating the Art Deco style –  symmetrical, geometric, streamlined, often simple, and pleasing to the eye. It is a modern art style that attempts to infuse functional objects with artistic touches.

As large-scale manufacturing grew artists and designers wanted to make the work mass produced better looking as well as functional. Art Deco looked for beauty in all aspects of life.

Create a clay tile in relief based on your own drawing of a wild flower or bug indigenous to northern Minnesota. insect.

Assignment#1: Choose a wildflower from northern MN. Complete two or more “to size” drawings in your sketchbook of your clay tile. Fill the tile – background and foreground space needs to be accounted for.

The drawings need to be clear contour lines (thick and thin, long and short) and clear shapes (large vs. small, repeating vs. singular). Refer to the style of the Art Deco that is symmetrical, geometric and streamlined in it’s design. It should be pleasing to the eye.

Assignment #2: Demonstration. Cut your clay tile out. Begin with 3/4″ thick tiles so you can cut away and down – the final tile should have a base of 1/2″ with relief up and down (no thicker than 3/4″). Trace the design on to the tile. Sculpt the design leaving open edges (no undercuts) for easy release from the molds. Smooth out all edges.

Assignment#3: Create origami box and place tile in the center. A plaster mold will be cast from your tile.

Assignment #4: Demonstration. Release the clay tile from the plaster mold. Let is dry. Clean out mold of any over cuts, etc. Create four identical castings of your tile using the plaster mold. Clean up edges. Write initials on the bottom.

Assignment #5: Glaze tiles using three colors. All four tiles should look identical.





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