Discovering our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore has ended up being the find of the century for me. Not only have I picked up small goodies for our vintage shop, great books for a dollar, and old hardware for projects- I've also stumbled onto a wonderful cache of recycled tiles. I started off with the normal square floor tiles, which I'll post about later. Then I found these sheets of small mosaic tiles made for back splashes. I bought the first ones there at the ReStore, just so I could recycle. But I went through those so quickly I had to go to Lowe's to buy more of them, where they are sold by the sheet or the case.
One of the reasons I always wanted my own kiln, was so I could experiment. I would never put something in a kiln belonging to someone else, if I couldn't be positive it wasn't going to explode! Or at the very least, ruin the kiln. I am willing to take that chance with my own, although I would be quite devastated if I broke my kiln! Not cheap to replace!! But I thought, well these are technically glazed ceramic tiles, so that means they went through the firing process at least twice already. They should be safe to run through a kiln again, even a small one like my little Exit Strategy (my nickname for her).
After removing the tiles from the mesh backing, and cleaning off the glue holding the tiles to the mesh, I was able to take my glazes and design away. I like the long rectangular tiles the best, but I think the small hexagonal ones are a nice size as well. The cleaning process is time consuming because the glue is strong, made to withstand commercial applications of the tiles. I confess I've sliced open my fingers a time or two while scrubbing them down.
Once the tiles were glazed, I added silver bails to the backs of them. I've listed several in my Etsy shop, just as pendants. I think the smaller ones would look best on a silver chain, and the larger ones definitely need something sturdier like a leather cord. So far I haven't seen anyone else on Etsy doing anything like this. I see a lot of people take these same tiles and put pictures on them, with resin. But I haven't seen anyone glazing them. I'm going to continue to play with other colors, especially my glazes that have crystals in them- I love opening the kiln and seeing how the crystals dispersed the color. It's always a fun surprise, and one of my favorite moments. Sometimes the color combinations I chose just don't work out, but most of the time, I like the results.
The backs of course still look like the original tile, which I like, because it's a reminder that this is a recycled item. The long tiles even have "Mexico" stamped in the clay. I sanded them down as best as I could, and they are fairly smooth. I haven't had any issues whatsoever with the one I kept for myself and wear almost every day. It doesn't scratch my skin, or my clothes, and I barely notice it at all- just like wearing any other piece of jewelry. I signed and dated the backs, as I do with all my jewelry pieces.
Although in my Etsy shop, I've only listed the pendants by themselves, I did make one necklace for myself (the top one below). It gets noticed and I've gotten a great deal of compliments on it everywhere I go. I'm going to start taking the pendants and making more necklaces, to set aside as inventory so I can start doing local craft shows, street fairs, and art festivals in 2015. I think it's something easy to make but still cool and handmade, and everyone loves "recycled" art. I will keep the prices down on them, I'm thinking in the $5.00-$7.00 range, depending on the size of the tile. I also think the smaller tiles, especially the little round ones, will make fantastic magnets and I've got plans to make up a few batches of those as well.
You can check out more of the pendants at my Etsy shop at Black Hairy Spider Arts. And once I know for sure the dates of the 2015 shows, I'll be posting those here as well. I believe the first one is in April, and I'm aiming for that as a starter, because it's a small show here in downtown Newnan. I plan to make plenty of other items as well, but I really want to make a lot of these tile pendants. I hope that people will appreciate these, not only because I feel it's a bit of an original idea, but also because it's upcycling and helping out a local community charity. I also strongly encourage you to find your own local ReStore, especially if you do crafts, because there are treasures on every shelf!