The primary goal of any handmade tile maker is to literally use the materials beneath our feet and create something that is both beautiful and functional. In order to achieve this goal, handmade tile should reflect the aesthetics and skill of the artisan who produces it. The typical handmade process lends itself very well to this personal interpretation with no two tile being exactly alike. Our original designs are carved, then made into plaster molds. Wet clay is pressed into these plaster molds, turned out and dried. After drying, the raw tile are bisque fired in preparation for glazing. Glaze is then applied by hand and the finished tile fired in a glaze kiln.
Besides the design, there are two important factors that contribute to the distinctiveness and personality of handmade tile:
Unlike machine made tile, the handmade tile process uses wet clay during the forming stage. Because the clay is wet, the tile shrinks considerably during the drying and firing. The water content of the clay when it is pressed will affect the amount of shrinkage. Thus, as the water content varies, so does the final size. Handmade tile are also handled quite a bit while being formed. The tile will take on signs of this handling, especially when the clay is malleable. Both shrinkage and handling combine in the final tile installation to create very subtle variations with an organic vibrancy and life of its own.
Glaze application and chemistry are also very important. We prefer brush application as it gives a large degree of control to the skilled artisan who must master the idiosyncrasies of each tile design and glaze color in order to achieve the desired results. Thus shrinkage, handling, glaze application and firing all contribute to the natural, desirable imperfections that help give handmade tile its richness and beauty.
All tile are handmade from stoneware clay that is high fired, rendering it frost proof and suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. Common uses include fireplace surrounds and hearths, kitchen backsplashes, bathrooms and showers. The non-reactive chemical resistance of our glazes also make them well suited for swimming pools and fountains.
How to purchase Terra Firma Tile:
Tile are available through fine tile showrooms in many parts of the US and Canada. These showrooms have experienced designers on staff to help you with your selection.
If you do not have a showroom in your area and you are an architect or designer or are comfortable doing your own designing, please contact us directly.
Availability and Delivery:
ALL TILE ARE MADE TO ORDER and are available in all colors. We try to keep an ample supply of bisque tile in stock so that tile only need to be glazed to order. Delivery time depends on the size of the order and our prior commitments. Most orders are 2 to 4 weeks. Larger orders (more than 200 sq ft) can be 4 to 6 weeks, rarely 8. Tile are shipped insured via UPS or Motor Freight, FOB Terra Firma, Ltd.
Installation and Grout:
All tile are suitable for interior or exterior applications. Due to the inherent characteristics of handmade ceramic tile, variations as to sizing, color and shade are normal and desirable. All tile should be inspected and projects laid out to check fit prior to installation. Tile are designed for use with a 3/16” grout joint.
Sanded grout is highly recommended for wider grout joints.
Installation procedures should conform to those prescribed in the Tile Council of North America Publication “Handbook of Ceramic Tile Installation”