Custom Designs for Fireclay Tiles

General / People / Products / May 2, 2013

It’s an idea whose time has finally arrived.

Fireclay Tiles has developed a manufacturing tool that allows customers to select designs and colors on a computer from home or work, then print out a rendering and place an order.

“It gives them a good idea of what they’ll end up with,” says Jamie Chappell, creative manager at Fireclay.  “The colors are pretty accurate reproductions of the glazes.”

It’s a bit like a coloring book.  Fireclay’s Cuerda Seca (Burned Rope) Color-It tool provides a selection of more than 150 designs inspired by traditional Moroccan and Mexican patterns. Eighty lead-free glaze colors allow customers to paint a tile that works with any décor, to their precise specifications.

“If nothing else, it’s a ton of fun,” she says.  “It inspires people to use tiles in a more decorative way.”

Once a customer has made a final selection and dialed it into the Fireclay sales team, instructions for skilled artisans in Northern California are printed out.  Delivery takes place about four weeks later.

Fireclay uses a proprietary wax resist technique to print a black outline on its tile, and the artisans then hand glaze the colors of choice within the selected pattern.

It’s a tool that makes the manufacturer more effective and builds a stronger link between customer and sales team, while offering a glimpse into how a finished design might appear – something that’s been unavailable until now.

“Part of the idea is to make sure that the design community can get involved too,” she says.  “It allows people to play around with the colors and get a preview of what it will look like.”

The patterns are bold, the colors are bright and the technique’s a winner.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

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