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Friday Moment of Zen: How Hand-Painted Tiles Are Made

Beautiful tiles in the process of being glazed with a traditional Spanish glazing technique.
Now I’ve Seen Everything/YouTube

When it comes to watching artisans work hands-on with their craft, the hand-painting process of premium tiles is particularly satisfying. Here’s how it’s done and a bonus video you can linger over.

Most of the tiles you encounter are mass-produced, and definitely not handmade one-by-one. But for those willing to pay a premium, there’s a world of handmade tiles out there. Not only is the end result beautiful, but the process of making them has a certain simplistic beauty to it, too.

There are different ways to create custom tiles, but the method we’re taking a peek at here is called “cuerda seca,” Spanish for “dry cord,” which describes how the colors are separated.

The tiles are silk screened or painted with a pattern that’s made from grease and typically mixed with a dark pigment. The grease keeps the colored glazes from running together, and once the tile is fired the glaze, dark pigment, and grease are locked in place.

Check out the fascinating process in the video below.

If you want to see more about the actual coloring process, we dug up the video below, which showcases just the color-filling portion of the process.


Now that you’ve seen the process, we’re sure you’ll look at tiles in a whole new way. You might even find yourself standing in a hotel lobby one day thinking, “Wow! These are cuerda seca tiles!”

Finally, if the candy-glazed visual goodness you’ve seen here is something you want a daily dose of, be sure to follow Kibak Tile and Fireclay Tile, the two companies featured here, on Instagram. You’ll be blown away by the stunning designs they share.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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