I just finished reading the book Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, and although I am a little behind the times in my reading list, (the movie comes out this summer,) I am so glad I read the book because literature is always so much more savory (pardon the cooking pun) for me than viewing a two hour flick. The book is witty and hopeful, which I needed a good dose of, so I am feeling particularly cheery today.
While I have little interest in cooking, I did complete my own version of a masterpiece in my kitchen a few years ago. I decided to make my own back splash tiles. The whole thing started because I fell in love with some expensive, hand made tiles that I could not afford. I was not deterred though, I simply hatched a scheme to make my own hand made tiles.
At the time, I did have some experience working with ceramics and pre-made bisque, as I owned a paint-your-own-pottery studio in a retail shopping center. Despite the thousands of ceramic pieces I had painted and fired, I had never attempted to work from scratch with clay to create the pottery piece.
How hard could it be?
I began with a rolling pin, some clay, and some cookie sheets, and an hour or so into the project I had about ten perfectly formed wet clay tiles. Not a bad turnaround if I were making cookies, but I needed about 500 tiles for my kitchen.
Fast forward 2 years .....
I lost over half of the initial 200 tiles I made due to improperly drying them, which caused hairline cracks, which caused them to break during firing. After that, I signed up for a pottery class at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Glassell School, where I greedily used their massive drying racks and big slab roller.....then the semester ended, and I still only had half the tiles I needed. My parent's felt sorry for me...(or maybe they were worried about my sanity) and they bought me my own slab roller for my B-day. At some point, I finished the tile making, got the tiles glazed and fired, and installed them into my kitchen. I also made a tile cap for the top edge of the tiles. I get tons of compliments on my tiles and I am really glad I did it, but I don't think that I would have,if I had known how long it would take, and the incredible learning curve that goes along with working with clay.
In total, the project cost me about $300 for clay, glaze and firing, another $500 for the class I took, and close to a $1000 was spent by my parent's on my slab roller. I can not begin to factor the time I put into the project over the course of the two years. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten the original tiles I wanted for close to the same cost.
Time has gone by, and the strife of the project is behind me, and I am left with my beautiful tiles. I have been toying with making some new sample tiles for a bathroom remodel. I figure I need about 750 tiles....better get to rolling!