Monday, 23 May 2011

Making the Russian Tiled Stove

My main research into Russian tiled stoves is a seperate post however I drew inspiration from original tile designs for colour and content to incorporate on the chimney tiles from the following books as well as the previously posted sites. 

Riley, Noel: A History of Decorative Tiles (1997) Grange Books, London

Dutch tile 18th C 
Dutch tiles Dog and Cat 18th C

English Tiles 1725-50

First I drew out a tile shape based on the autocad measurements of 288mm x 160mm wide and created a generic design that could be used on each tile.  I then designed centres for each tile based on the research that I had done.  These designs also incorporated the groups discussion about representing death in a more subtle way, birds symbolise death, the hare has been shot, the harpie lured sailors to their deaths, cats are seen as familiars to the supernatural, the flower alas has no hidden meaning it was just there to add authenticity to the delft ware design!

Flower tulip design


Hunted Hare


Harpie shown as the centre of the tile

Hare shown as centre of the tile

There were 60 tiles needed for the chimney and I cut these out of 9mm MDF and sanded the edges to round them off.  Tiles can be cut more precisely with 45 degree angles to the edges however I wanted a more handmade individual feel to the tiles.

These were primed with Covent Garden primer and then given two coats of white emulsion paint with a light sanding between coats.  The first coat was applied with a brush which left streaks on the tiles, a small foam roller was much more successful for the second coat.

Thank goodness for team work, 60 tiles is a lot to do on your own!

Whilst I was busy with the tiles Callum made two sides of the stove (it was being positioned against the wall in the corner so no more was needed) out of 12mm MDF, braced on the interior with 2 x 4 pine.  We routed a 128mm deep strip of pine on the top and bottom edge to create a tiled effect and screwed this to the top.  We offered up the tiles to the stove to check the measurements.

Callum then gave the entire base a coat of white emulsion to prime.

Next came the painting of the tiles!  I made a stencil of the tile surround which was pencilled onto each tile and a tracing paper copy of the centre designs which were traced into the middle.  Each design was copied ten times.  This was a laborious way to do the tiles and not achievable without the help from the group that I had, a quicker way would have been to create a proper stencil or to print off the designs on paper and stick them to the tiles.  Each centre design I finished off by hand.


Once finished the tiles were given a coat of gloss glaze but this was not shiny enough so a further coat of wooden floor varnish was applied.  However it was only when these had dried that I found out often on sets shiny surfaces such as tiles are left matt as the glare they give off can interfere with the lighting, it is only if a close shot is being taken of the surface that varnish would be applied.  Also the varnish I used was solvent based another no no as the drying time is so long.

I laid the tiles out to establish a pattern and once satisfied stuck them to the stove base with a combination of grab adhesive and a glue gun, working from the top to the bottom in order to be able to rectify any gapping errors.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Tibbles
Photo courtesy of Sarah Laker
The finished Tiled stove looks very imposing and sits into the corner of the room well.  However were I to make one again I would create a return of half a tile on each corner as the blunt ends look a little clunky.

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