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Inspiration from artists, crafters and historians sought

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Mangleworzle, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Our village church is undergoing some refurbishment including part of the roof, following some skip-diving I am now the custodian of a number of the old removed roof tiles which I think look fab.

    Next year is the 1000 year anniversary of the church and I had this "great" idea that I could turn some of these tiles into commemorative items to celebrate this event and raise money for the repair of the church which is also a focal point for events such as concerts, talks etc.

    I had the idea that I could laser etch a design of the church with 1020-2020 and the village name onto the tiles and mount them somehow (I know nothing at all about laser etching other that what I found in 10 mins googling). A neighbour suggested they could form the front of a wooden bird-box, I think they would look good like this, the tiles are quite readily drilled.

    The tiles themselves are quite irregular in all 3 dimensions which will make any form of mount difficult.

    Any other ideas of things I could make with them? It needs to be fairly regularly repeatable and I'm not a great artist, though could possibly recruit others in the village who are better at this. I want to draw a connection to an item that has a great provenance within the village.


    There are two types of tile, red and yellow. The church was last refurbished in the 1880's and I think the red ones date from this time. They are more regular than the yellow ones and from what little I have been able to find, may have been bought in as tile production from 1850 (when the railway arrived) became very industrialized with a relatively small number of producers.

    The yellow ones seem older, they are more irregular in every parameter, dimensions, flatness and have many inclusions of other stones or minerals. I think these my date back possibly as far as medieval times and may well have been made very locally, there was a brickworks down the high street from the middle ages to the late 1800's.

    Can anyone confirm this or otherwise? or point me in the direction of where I might be able to discover more.

    Pics of 3 tiles attached, they have been jet washed of superficial dirt and moss but have grey cement/concrete marks on them still. Apparently it is possible to remove these chemically, though of course then the patina of age starts to disappear more.

    20190722_184827.jpg 20190722_184831.jpg 20190722_184834.jpg
    cissy3 and sodalime like this.
  2. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I appreciate that your tiles are flat rather than curved but I rather like these ideas.

    cissy3, knitone, smoothnewt and 2 others like this.
  3. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look for fittings tomorrow, could be a simple repeatable solution.
  4. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Mangleworzle likes this.
  5. RepelloInimicum

    RepelloInimicum Lead commenter

    A quick tour of Pinterest has found this:
    cissy3, Mangleworzle and knitone like this.
  6. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I can tell you a lot about laser etching, but I'll start by saying that all it can do to brick or tile is to create a contrast to the base material colour and the result is variable, dependent on how dense it is.

    You can think of laser etching in exactly the same way you think of black and white photography. In the case of film you'd be balancing the intensity of light with the sensitivity of the film to determine the exposure. With laser etching you're balancing the intensity of the laser with the density of the material.

    Every material has a threshold that it needs to be heated to by the laser before you get a reaction. In the case of brick or tile, the threshold is very high. You either need a high-power laser or a very long exposure to achieve the reaction.

    I've known instances when lasers have been used to create corporate logos into brickwork (before the buildings we built), but it never took off as a viable product to flog.

    The bottom line for you as far as laser eching tiles goes is how much laser power is available; and how long have you got?

    It isn't something I would entertain unless I had many Kilowatts of laser power at my disposal, but laser systems with that sort of power are intended for cutting metal. They aren't usually designed for etching and they are bleedin' expensive, so cost a lot to run.

    In the main, machines designed for laser etching are in the 10-50 Watt range, which is fine for materials like wood, but the won't touch dense materials like brick or tile unless you've got all day.
    Mangleworzle and knitone like this.
  7. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    Well your slates already are very arty. Is it possible to do something less destructive than drilling or etching? Perhaps just a simple display stand to use them as ornaments that can be enjoyed for their tactile touchiness and colourfulness.

    You could label the display stand, but if I were buying, I’d prefer unlabelled as talking points to be explained. Perhaps you could box them with the church ‘story’ in a mini- booklet.

    24C30FA6-4D8C-4AAA-B24D-3AACD758ECF0.jpeg C6EE5E0D-7C49-471B-BBCA-30D2BA250764.jpeg
  8. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

  9. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    Blimey, I'm impressed with your creativity Mangleworzle, and your technical knowledge DoY!
    Mangleworzle and knitone like this.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I can't help, but I wish you luck with this project.
    Mangleworzle likes this.
  11. sodalime

    sodalime Star commenter

    What a fantastic and interesting project, mangle.
    I would be tempted to try engraving one of them with a simple, but recognisable, line drawing of the church (maybe a silhouette).
    What are the rough dimensions of the tiles?
    Personally I think the tiles look pretty damn good as they are, so i think any modification to the surface of the tile should be discreet and minimal. The patina on them is beautiful in itself.
  12. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Thanks for this, I may ask around if anyone has access to such a machine just to give it a try, but it sounds unlikely to be a goer, you've saved me a lot of time. I saw something online where the laser etched a design which was then filled with ink which looked very good and clear, though this was on something like a modern bathroom tile and these are as far from that as is possible while still being a tile. As much as anything I think the ink would bleed sideways too much.
  13. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Ta dah!

    One of those instances where the bleedin' obvious only becomes so when pointed out by someone else :D.

    This ticks all the boxes, minimal effort and extra cost for each one, shows them off clearly and a booklet to explain it all. I've researched and led a couple of "history walks" around the village this year so already have much of the information, this is how I know about the brick-works, I may go and knock on the door of the house that now occupies the site to see if he'll let me dig up a bit of clay.
    colpee likes this.
  14. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    My original idea was to take a photo and turn it into a simple line drawing using photoshop to be laser-etched. As much as anything I liked the idea of modern technology applied to centuries old materials. Actually, that's not true, my first idea was I could roof a shed with them until I worked out I'd need nearly 1000 which would weigh about a ton!

    They are 10.5 x 6.5 inches which was the standard roof tile size for centuries apparently.

    I didn't expect them to scrub up quite so artistically once I'd washed the superficial muck off them with my jet washer.

    Many thanks to everyone for your input.
    cissy3, RepelloInimicum and sodalime like this.
  15. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    Don't forget to show us the finished article!
  16. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Some materials can be engraved by lasers, i.e. removing material from the surface, others can only be marked i.e. causing a change of colour in the surface. You can engrave ceramic tiles and apply a contrasting filler, but it's not great. It's only successful if you do it in a number of passes. If you put too much energy in to do it in one go, you're likely to find chipping around the edges of the engraving.

    What you may have seen is lasertile, which is something else. http://lasertile.com/

    Lasertile has a special glaze which turns black where the laser heats it. It's a form of marking rather than engraving. It works well, but the tiles are expensive.

    Engraving photographs is one of the more difficult laser engraving tasks. It can certainly be done, but the image needs special processing for it to be successful. Many people use Photograv, which does the image processing for you. There's a better software called 1-touch laser photo, but nothing is ever simple. It was developed by a particular laser manufacturer to work with its own RF laser tubes. You can have reasonable success with other RF laser tubes, but you'll be wasting your time trying to engrave photos well with the cheap CW glass laser tubes that are common on Chinese machines.

    To understand what photo engraving software is doing, you need to appreciate that each material has a threshold it needs to be heated to in order to make a mark. If you send a greyscale image to the laser, the laser output will vary depending on the shade of grey, i.e. 100% black delivers 100% power; 50% black delivers 50% of the power. Some parts of the image might not get sufficient power to reach the threshold the material requires. If you increase the power level so the lighter shades reach the threshold, you overcook the dark shades.

    The photo engraving software converts the image into black dots, the density of which, fools the eye into seeing shades of grey in the same way that images in newsprint does. The laser turns on each time it sees a black dot and turns off immediately it sees white. For this to be successful, it requires a very responsive laser. RF laser tubes achieve this. Cheap laser tubes are not responsive enough.
    cissy3 and Mangleworzle like this.
  17. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    An artist might easly add paintings to those tiles, as they have character. A christmas theme might sell them well.
    Notice boards for homes
    church painted upon then for those who collect such things with date or the event
  18. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    One other thought you might want to consider before excluding laser etching, @Mangleworzle, is to apply some paint to the tiles and burn it off to leave an image behind. To explain, imagine you have a white image on a black background like this.


    When you etch it, everything black gets burnt off, leaving behind the white part of the image, which will appear on the tile in whatever colour paint was used.

    There's one final thing you could think about so far as laser marking the tile. There's a ceramic-based paint known as Cermark. It was originally used for marking metal with a low-power CO2 laser, but they now offer it for marking glass and tiles. With this, where the laser heats the Cermark it bonds it to the substrate. You then wash off the excess with water. This video explains how it's used.

    I've used it on metals and found it to work well, leaving behind a permanent mark that would need a lot of abrasion to remove. I've never tried the glass and tile stuff, but I expect it works just as successfully. It's quite expensive though.
    Mangleworzle likes this.
  19. artboyusa

    artboyusa Star commenter

    Judging by the photos time has already made those tiles very beautiful. How are human hands going to improve them? Leave them be and sell them as is would be my advice.
    Mangleworzle and Duke of York like this.
  20. cissy3

    cissy3 Star commenter

    Those tiles are gorgeous just as they are!

    I 'read' the markings as landscapes, and my first thought was just to hang them using the holes, but might be trickier with this one.


    You could carve into them by hand, but it would be a tedious job for the quantities needed. (A 'dremmel' might work?)

    I've used glass etching cream on ....well....glass, but I didn't feel it etched deeply enough. And you'd need a stencil ....

    You could paint them, but they could end up looking a bit naff in the wrong hands!

    (I'm now engrossed on pinterest)
    Mangleworzle likes this.

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