Pratt & Larson is a handmade ceramic tile company based here in Portland, Oregon. We ordered all of our bathroom tile from them a few months back and they were kind enough to offer me a tour of their factory! It was so interesting to take a look at how they make each of their ceramics. They carry everything from subway tile in solid colours to hand-painted mosaics. Pratt & Larson tile is lovingly crafted to be unique and stand the test of time. They are definitely pricier than the big box store alternative, but they have an overflow section with hundreds of different tile options at a fraction of the original price. So if your worried that a higher quality tile like Pratt & Larson isn’t within your budget you can always check the overstock section to see if the style you want is available. It’s usually in smaller quantities, so if your working on a project like kitchen backsplash it’s a great place to look!
Subway tile and other popular styles are made by feeding a flat rectangle of clay through a machine that presses the shape onto it. Then each tile is hand separated and stacked on a rack to dry out. Any extra clay around the edges gets removed and reused for the next batch, so nothing goes to waste. You can see this process below!
For more delicate and intricate patterns they use a hand press that makes 1-2 tiles at a time. After placing two pieces of clay on the platform they pull the lever to lower the mould down and steam press the design onto the clay. How cute are these pineapple tiles?
The tiles are left to dry and then stacked onto shelves and rolled into this large furnace to be fired.
After being fired the first time the tiles are off to be painted! They have an unlimited colour selection so the sky is the limit. Below you can see what the tiles look like when they are first painted. The paint looks like it’s all one copper colour, but once it’s fired a second time the true colours are revealed. Each one of these are like tiny works of art!
Thanks to Pratt & Larson for giving me a behind-the-scenes tour of their facility!