Zelle Glass Studio for laNeva Artisan Tile

Zelle Glass has an incredible history creating commissioned glass sculpture, countertops and gallery pieces.

Peter Zelle is a master of the glassmaking process and the head of a studio with whom we are very proud to partner. We’ve attempted to illustrate the laborious process of making the laNeva GLASS Collection here.  While intriguing, it does not truly convey the time and attention that goes into making every tile.

Read on to learn how each laNeva GLASS tile is produced:

  • The first step is to create a silicon mold in the size of the desired tile.  A mixture of plaster and silica powder is mixed with water until it is a slurry, like pancake mix, and then poured into the silicon mold.
  • When the plaster/silica hardens, the mold is pulled off. Now there is a 4”x4” space where the glass tile forms.
  • Colored glass frit, like coarse sugar, are sprinkled into the plaster/silica mold. This 1/8” layer of color is then covered with chunks of clear glass. These chunks are irregular shapes which create beautiful shadowy lines in the tiles where the chunk edges melt together.
  • Once all the glass is put into molds, they are loaded into the kiln.
  • The tiles are heated slowly over 12 hours to 1250° F and held there for 3 more hours. This allows all the bubbles to reach the surface. Next the kiln is raised to 1550° F and the glass pools and flows like honey.
  • Glass needs to be annealed, or cooled slowly. This relieves any stress in the glass so no cracking will occur. This process takes 12 more hours.
  • Once the tiles are cooled they are removed from the plaster/silica mold. The plaster/silica just breaks apart and is discarded.
  • The second half of the glass tile making process involves grinding the edges of the tiles and then fire polishing them in the kiln.
  • The grinding is done on a water fed flattening wheel with a 200 grit diamond pad. This is a semi coarse grit which will smooth out any imperfections from the mold. Then the tiles are placed back in the kiln at room temperature and heated over 1 hour to 1000° F.
  • Now the fire polishing takes place. The kiln temp is then raised to 1450° F. At that point the edges of the tiles start to round just a bit and the coarse ground areas gloss over and become smooth and shiny.
  • The kiln is then quickly cooled by opening the door a bit until it is back down to 1000° F. The pieces are annealed again over 12 hours.
  • Finally they are removed from the kiln and the back sides are hand painted white to give the brilliant colors a background to glow against.

To learn more about laNeva GLASS options, colors and specs, see the collection on our website and blog launch post.

 

 

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The Dirt – Clay

Everything you ever wanted to know about laNeva Tile’s clay body is here. Fun stuff, huh?

laNeva Tile uses a smooth white 3/8″ thick clay body for all of our tiles, which is rolled to thickness with a slab roller and cut onsite per order. We do not purchase pre-made bisque “blanks” on which to apply our glaze.  Since our tiles are cut by hand instead of molded, there is variation on each edge which creates a truly handmade look.

Because of laNeva’s contemporary image, we chose our white clay body to give a consistent texture and a more uniform finish than many handmade tiles.  It also helps us avoid tile warping, the bane of many a handmade tile maker.

laNeva uses clay from local Minnesota clay fabricators who get their materials from all over the upper midwest. We always use local material when possible and 100% non-toxic and lead free glazes are our standard.

3/8″ thick tile is consistent with many other handmade tiles but thicker than many of the mass-produced tiles available out there. We make no apologies for that. 1/4″ handmade tile, while convenient, isn’t a great cost savings to produce or ship and just doesn’t exude quality nor feel substantial enough for us.

We’ve designed laNeva to give a slightly contemporary yet warm feel in a world where there is mostly rustic handmade tile. Perfect for your modern green home, midcentury abode, or any other style inbetween, laNeva Tile is a timeless classic.

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