Introduction

Tajimi tile makers have a variety of techniques for production, glazing and firing. Resulting Tajimi tiles are characterised by a warm, hand-made look. Their slight irregularities in colour and texture are often perceived in keeping with Japanese aesthetics. Firing method strongly influences appearance, as well as nature of tiles. Globally most mass-produced tiles are fired in a so called roller heath kilns, providing a completely uniform output. In Tajimi however, tunnel- and shuttle kilns are used. Their fluctuating firing temperature and firing times of 20 hours or more, result in variations in colour among the same tiles, giving them their typical, vivid sense. In addition, a method known as reduction firing (as opposed to oxidation firing) can be used in combination with special glazes so as to create unique textures and colour effects like those found in traditional Japanese pottery.

Extrusion

Clay extrusion is a characteristic Tajimi method that has been used for many decades. Clay is continuously extruded through a die, showing a tile section that is then cut by wire to the desired length. The process is partially automated and is also suitable for middle to large quantities. Extruded tiles with their slight unevenness in colour and texture have a particularly warm, hand-made look that is perceived as typical of Japanese aesthetics.

Dry Press

Worldwide, dry press is the most common tile production method. Dry clay powder is used instead of regular clay. Large steel moulds compress the powder and form the tiles under high pressure, before tiles are glazed and fired in a tunnel kiln. The process is highly automated and suitable for the efficient and economic production of very large quantities with low tolerances. Dry pressed tiles are highly standardised and have a neutral, clean appearance.

Pressure Moulding

Pressure moulding is a technique often used in Japanese pottery production. Clay is liquified and pressed into closed plaster moulds, with plaster absorbing humidity from the clay, making the clay firm. Tiles are removed from the mould individually. The process is suitable for small to medium quantities and offers very high detailing for complex designs.

Wet Press

Wet press is an old technique now almost vanished, but still sometimes used in Tajimi. Tiles are made one by one by pressing clay into a single mould. The process requires a lot of time-consuming handwork. It is only suitable for very particular designs in small quantities. Every tile is unique, so will show slight differences.