Blog entry

Developing A Numbered Tile - Some completed tiles

This is the end result of all of the work shown in the previous tile posts. 

Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6

Developing A Numbered Tile - Step 6: Finish The Process

So here's how I finish the process of making tile molds.  
Up till now, I've got the base of the tiles made and had created a mold of it. 
I roll out some clay, and lay out my foam template numbers onto the clay. I cut out the numbers and score and slip a number to a base tile.
Numbers cut from clay and placed onto base template of the tile.
If you look carefully at the image of the number 2, you'll see the slip before I've cleaned it off the base near the edge of the number two. 

So now that I have this model, I next make a mold of it. I make eleven molds in total. One base mold which is used to pull ten base tiles, and each of the base tiles get a number adhered onto it, and a mold created of that number. 

Original trashed, but mold of tile number 2 is fine.After the mold is made, the model tile is trashed because it has too much plaster. Plaster blows up claywork in a kiln because it expands at different temperatures than the clay. Because of this, it is best to be very careful about not reusing clay with plaster on or in it. 

The mold is completed, and will be cleaned up, having air bubbles and undercuts addressed before pulling tiles from it. Air bubbles will have plaster added and sanded, and undercuts will be cut away with an Exacto knife from the plaster mold. Edges are rasped rounded and smooth. 

There are many steps to bringing an idea from start to finish. Thank you for following along. I'll be posting these number tiles soon. Add yourself to my email newsletter list if you would like to see the finished results when they come out of the kiln. 

Thanks for following along! 


Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6

Developing a Numbered Tile - Step 5: Creating the Tile Base

creating the tile base
For consistency sake, to tie all of the numbers together, I wanted the same tile base behind every number. So I rolled out some clay and made my design impressions, then cut the tile to size. I had planned in step 1 to bevel the edges of my tiles. My first attempt at beveling the edges left the bottom outside edge too thin. From that try, I knew I needed to leave some clay at the bottom edge. I used a paint stirring stick as my base to run the beveler over. It worked like a dream!

Now, I'm not great at getting things to look exactly the same every time I create it. I'd have to be a machine to do that! So once the base tile was created, I poured some plaster over it. Shown below is the mold of the original base tile..It's not very pretty, but it IS very functional, and that's beautiful!

Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6



Developing a Numbered Tile - Step 4: Making Foam Templates

Making Foam Templates for Number TilesOnce I have the numbers vectorized, I then print them out. I suppose if you are concerned about keeping the paper pristine, you could use clear shelf paper over the top of the paper on one side. I didn't bother doing that here.
Using plain white school glue, I glue the paper to craft foam. (The foam is the color red in this image.) I've found that other types of glue, such as epoxy, tend to eat the foam. After that I carefully cut out the numbers' shapes. 

These foam pieces are the templates that I use to cut numbers out of clay.

Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5 |  Step 6




Developing a Numbered Tile - Step 3: Vectorizing the Numbers.

Vectorizing the numbers
In step three I scanned in the numbers to the computer. Then I took the jpgs into my Illustrator program. In the Illustrator program, I redrew the numbers using the sketches as a base to copy. Illustrator creates line art, not paint art. This line art is called Vector art. So I "vectorized" the numbers. The cool thing about Vector art is that I can resize an image without losing any quality. In a paint program, I am likely to lose image quality if I tried to upside the image.vectorized numbers align

After I redrew the numbers, I then printed them out, and checked that all of the number parts lined up with each other.  

Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6


Developing a Numbered Tile - Step 2: Sketching Out The Numbers

Numbers sketched outSo I knew I wanted my numbers to look sleek and clean. I wanted them to also look fun and slightly quirky without reaching "saccharin cute". I messed around with ideas on paper until I was happy with my general concept. I'd have the numbers break the wall of the inner base of the tile and offset them to get the feeling I wanted to achieve. I was pretty happy with my results.
The next step: getting the numbers into the computer.



Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6


Developing a Numbered Tile - Step 1: Math and Proportion

So I thought I'd create some house numbers. By developing these numbers from an idea in my head rather than from a premade font, these numbers will reflect the style I create. This will give you a lovely way to create unique beauty and interest in your doorways, mailboxes and other areas.
This and future posts will demonstate some of the basics I went through while developing the concept for these numbered tiles.

House Number Tiles - Math and ProportionsSo I've decided that I wanted the number tiles to be about 5 inches tall and about 3.75 inches across. That felt like a good size with nice proportions and the tiles could be used vertically or horizontally. To add a bit of modern interest, I've decided to bevel the edges of each tile, rather than make the ho-hum "picture frame" commonly found.
Because I work in clay, and clay shrinks, I had to do a bit of math to accommodate the shrinkage.

If you want to know how I did the math, you can follow along by using the formula on this Pottery Algebra Tee Shirt
Pottery Algebra Tee Shirt On Amazon




Step 1  |  Step 2   |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6