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Tortuga tiles are all hand-made using various mold making techniques as outlined below.  Artist and designer LuRu sculpts the original compositions in low relief to create the patterns. She earned her BFA in ceramics from The Ohio State University and her MFA in sculpture from Louisiana State University.  In addition to the regular stock tiles, she is able to customize designs or adapt existing tiles to any given framework.  Please submit a quote request for custom quotes.  
Mosaics are adhered to concrete board with thinset concrete. It is threfore weather resistant.  However, the clay tiles are  not completely vitrious and thus are not impervious to the detrimental effects of freezing and thawing. 
Tiles are set into place.
After the mastic or thinset has cured overnight, the grout is applied.
As the grout sets up, it is cleaned off with a damp sponge.  A nail brush is used to get the grout out of the carvings. When the grout has dried, the tiles are buffed with a towel. After 24 hours the grout is then sealed unless the epoxy grout was used.
Tortuga Tile Works creates tiles to suit a variety of different personalities and aims to produce original and unusual tile pieces. Production schedules vary depending on the scope of the project, but every effort is taken to ensure timely fulfillment of all orders.  Our artisan tiles are available for retail, wholesale and custom markets.   

The tiles are then dried slowly for 3-7 days.  Next, they are fired to bisque temperature of 1800˚ F  in one of the electric kilns.  It takes 24 hours to heat and then cool the kiln each time it is fired. 

Once the tiles are bisque fired they are hand glazed with both commercial and hand-made glazes. The glazes that I make are from collected recipes and experimentation using materials such as feldspars, frits, silica, clay and mineral colorants. Each color is brushed or sprayed onto the tile with three coats.

Plaster molds are used for most tiles. Once there is a mold, reproductions are made by pressing clay into the mold with a mallot.  Each pressed tile gets stamped on the back for texture. 
The tiles are fired to 1945˚ F in an electric kiln. 

Completed tiles can then be made into a mosaic composition or are sold individually
Contour Cut Mosaics are made by rolling out slabs, sculpting the design and then cutting the pieces along the shapes of the sculpted elements. It then becomes a giant jigsaw puzzle until it is complete and cemented in place.
Press molded tiles are sculpted into their final shape and then reproduced from molds.

Tiles can be shipped individually, mounted on mesh for easy installation of multipart mosaics, or cemented and grouted on concrete board. Tortuga Tile Works does not do installation, but will aid your contractor with instructions and scale diagrams to insure a successful installation.
The Process