King Alfred Weekend 2016 Update
Posted on 12:27, November 13th, 2016
Encaustic Tile Workshop – November 2016
Some 24 apprentice medieval tile makers ranging in ages between 5 and 75 got their hands dirty taking part in this year’s King Alfred Weekend tile workshops.
The four workshop sessions gave people an opportunity of trying their hand at tile making in an authentic medieval manner. The workshops were ably run by artist Kate Arnold – who had recently produced stunning drawings for the programme to accompany the very successful Hyde900 performances of Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis – and who took her apprentices though the patterned encaustic tile making process. She had previously produced the “stamps”, carved from well seasoned beech. The two patterns were based on finds of tiles from the Hyde abbey site. Together with “frames” and a bow cutter these were used to create the tiles using raw clay kindly supplied by Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company.
Much fun was had thumping the clay to produce an air free (hopefully) pliable block of the right consistency – a technique recognised by bread makers taking part. Using the frames and one of the stamps a soft block was produced with an indentation of the design. The tile makers then made indentations in the base to form a “key“ to locate the tile on a mortar bed. A white clay “slip” was then used to fill the pattern.
Some 20 of the apprentice tile makers chose to leave their tiles with Hyde900 to have them glazed and fired. As this is written the surplus slip material has been removed, revealing the tiles which look to be an amazingly successful product. These will be taken shortly to the Pottery Barn for firing after a further period of drying out.