Polychrome tiles, those having multicolored designs within a single tile, are seeing a resurgence in popularity as accent tiles or when making up a multi-tile mural. To make polychrome tile, the tile artist uses a stylus to etch a groove into a plaster mold. When the mold is later filled with clay, the line will become raised to contain the glaze. Colors are added to this special tile by pooling the glazes with bulb syringes into the areas delineated by the tiny, raised, clay lines. After glazing, the tiles are loaded back into the kilns for their final firing.
The wow factor of glass tile comes from its unique reflective properties that combine the splendor and spectrum of light. With glass tile, there is a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional surface. The depth of color and light resonate. A wall tile in glass reflects light back into the room, rather than soaking it up.
The link of glass tiles to color is complex and part of their charm. Glass tiles reach visual intensity through inner texturing and permanent translucent color, permitting light to enter and interact within the glass.
On a practical level, glass tiles are easy to clean; impervious to fading, staining and discoloration; frost proof and non-flammable. They can be used on most surfaces including backsplashes, walls, shower surrounds, swimming pools and spas, outdoor applications and floors.
When designing a glass tile floor, the surface of the tile must be taken into consideration concerning safety. A wet, smooth glass tile is very slippery. There are a couple of ways of dealing with this. First, an etched or textured surface decreases the slip factor of a tile. And second, by using smaller tiles the recurring grout lines provide extra traction.
The combinations of shape, color, size, finish and thickness available for glass tile installations is limitless. The depth of a translucent glass tile is proportional to its thickness… the thicker the tile, the more intense the color. The finish of a glass tile informs the effect of its installation. A glossy finish maximizes the sparkle and brilliance of glass. Etched glass tiles have a softer aura, more like sea glass. Metallic and iridescent finishes draw the eye and enhance the elegance of glass tile.
One of the most popular glass tile installations is as a mosaic. Either set within a simple glass tile field, or set within a ceramic installation, a glass mosaic highlights the inimitable finish, texture and aesthetic qualities of the medium. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination!