[collection] Wall Piece from repeating patterned Plaster Tiles

Recently I saw an Instagram post by Peter Deligdish, where he made combinable plaster tiles in a „pipe“ design, that I really liked.

The goal of this project is to replicate this design and turn it into a big wall piece. I mainly want to do this, to learn new production techniques though.

Firstly I designed the tiles in Inkscape. I used the original four tiles by Peter and also added two „Junction“ tiles.

Patterns of the six tiles I designed in Inkscape. „Pipes“ are one centimeter in diameter and 2 cm apart.

Then I created the design of the board, made from these six tiles. The Board will be 17 x 12 tiles big, with each tile beeing 4 x 4 cm in size. This totals to a size of 68 x 48 cm.

Each indidvidual element appears 34 times in the total pattern, and randomly two times per column. This approach ensured, that I can build the whole board in an efficent way coulum by colum.

The pattern formed from six basic tiles. each tile appears two times per row. The whole pattern is 14 x 12 tiles big.

If now every colum gets moved downwards by a quarter of its size, the results will be a continuos pipe pattern. The resulting overhang at the lower side can be cut off and attached to the gap at the upper end. This way 204 individual tiles with only 6 variants can form interesting and complex patterns.

Each column is shifted downwards by 1 cm from the previous one, creating continous pipe pattern. The lowest tile is cut off and the excess is added at the top of the colum again.

Later in the project I changed the pattern a bit, by exchanging single tiles from one column to another, because I didn’t like some places of the pattern.

The next step was to create the three-dimensional pattern in Fusion 360. In opposite to the original more smooth curves, I used only straigt lines and circular corners.

Each tile is 4 x 4 cm big and 5 mm thick. The pipes are 1 cm in diameter.

Top view from Fusion 360. Only straight lines and circular corners are used to create the pipe pattern.

Ortographic view of the same tiles, showing tile thickness and pipe dimensions.

I printed the tiles with Sunlu PLA+ on a Crealty Ender 3 V2. Nozzle temperature was set to 220°C, Printing speed to 80 mm/s, the printbed was unheated. I was quite happy with the result, as the printed parts just need a tiny bit of cleanup.

Next I ordered Silicone molding compound to make the pouring mold. For this I glued 3 mm MDF onto a glass plate with hot glue. And covered everything in release emulsion, which I let dry for 15 minutes.

Then I mixed the Silicone with the activator and poured it all over the mold. I planned on using half a bottle of 500 g CREARTEC Silcolan NV-RTV, to create two mold for a higher production speed, but I ended up needing all of it.

After letting the silicone cure for 24 h, I removed the pouring form from the glass plate with a carpet knive, turned the mold around and removed the plastic tiles, to reveal the mold completely.

I was impressed by the detail, the silicone could replicate. I could even see the criss cross pattern of the 3D printed material. Some of the silicone was flowing below the plastic tiles, so that in the mold there was some overhang. I removed that with the carpet knive, so the whole mold of each tile is revealed.

Detail of one mold, after removing the overhang.

Next I put the mold back on the glass plate and glued the MDF barrier back around it, to fill the whole mold with plaster. I used Alabaster moulding plaster from Krone-Gips.

Mold with barrier, filled with plaster.

After 48 h I removed the mold from the wooden barriers and plopped out the tiles. Again I was surprised by the details that was possible to be transferred. The mix of high detail and random air bubbles give a nice look, in my opinion.

Dried tiles as they came out of the mold

The tiles needed some clean up of the sides. I could remove the excess Plaster just by pinching it. To straighten the sides, I took two tiles and rubbed all four sides on each other. The result were nice clean tiles

A close up of a plaster tile after cleanup. You can see the details of the 3D printed template and individual error formed by air bubbles. I liked that look.

After production of the first batch of tiles, I found out, that Its enough to let the tiles cure for 20 minutes in the mold, and then carefully remove them, to let them air dry. This shortend my expected production time of 204 tiles by a big amounted, as I originally thought I can maybe do 2 batches of tiles per week. But on my second day of pouring I finished already 24 tiles. So thats 4 batches on a single day. I broke one tile, when I tried to get it out of the mold a bit too early, and still I am much faster than anticipated.

The 23 tiles that I produced on the second day. The excess plaster is already removed, but the sides are not straightened yet.

While pouring more tiles, I was figuring out how to coat the tiles to make them more resistable to humidity. I got some shellac and a jar of liquid glass to try these two coatings. I had to solve the shellac in a bit ot ethanol whereas the liquid glass was ready to use.

I applied a coat of shellac on one of the tiles that I broke and the liquid glass on another one. The shellac gave the tiles a nice tint, whereas the liquid glass made it glossy.

Tiles after coating. Left: Shellac, Middle: Liquid glass, Right uncoated.
The same tiles in direct sunlight.

Next I tried a cobination of both and had saw that the liquid glass is decoloring the shellac into some kind of muddy purplish-grey tone, that I dont like at all

Tiles coated with shellac (UR), liquid glass (BL) and a combination of both (UL, BR). The decoloring is clearly visible.

I liked that the combination of shellac and liquid glass creates a pattern of white, grey and purple colors on the tiles, but I didn’t really like the colors themselfes. So I tried more types of staining with some diluted ink that I had laying around, which was incompatible with my fountain pen. This ink unexpectedly also formed some pattern on the tiles, when applied in multiple thin coats and didn’t discolor when coated with liquid glass.

This is the finish that I liked the most so far, so I settled for that look by adding less or more layers I can vary the look and texture of the tiles, so I have more variety in the finished piece later.

While testing coatings, I continued pouring more tiles and after four afternoons of pouring, I had all 204 tiles completed.

Box full of raw plaster tiles

After I finished pouring all the tiles, I got a sheet of 1 cm beech plywood as backplate for the wallpiece. I saw it to 70*50 cm to have some play when glueing the tiles. After cutting I arranged tiles on the plywood to check if they all fit

After the size was confirmed to be right, I marked and drilled two holes in the back of the backplate, so I can hang it to the wall later.

Hole for hanging the wallpiece later

After sawing and sanding the plywood, I sealed it with the shellac I made earlier which I intended to use as coating for the tiles. I added multiple layers of it to the plywood, giving it a nice tint.

After this I took a break for a few days, to let the tiles dry completely. Then i started tinting them all with the diluted sketching ink

Many tinted tiles

After another day of drying, I started glueing the tiles to the plywood with construction glue, according to the pattern that I designed before. I made a mistake in one of the colums and realised it too late unfortunately.

At the bottom of each column I placed the tiles that need to be cut.

As you can slightly see on the picture below, I sketched a grid on the board, to align the tiles to.

Tiles beeing glued to the board with construction glue.

After glueing all the whole tiles in place, I cut the endpieces with a regulat metal hand saw and glued them in place as well. The whole board is now assembled.

Then I covered the overhanging wood with masking tape and applied three layers of liquid glass to all of the tiles.

Pattern completed and wooden board masked with tape.
Glossy finish after adding two of the three layers of liquid glass to the tiles.

At a last step I drilled two holes in the wall to hang the piece on two screws.

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