Make a Tile for the Pontardawe Heritage Bench

A good handful of (ES50 Crank) Clay will make a tile about the size of a post-card. Roughly A6. It must be 1.5cm thick.

It can be any shape and decorated with images about Pontardawe, past and present.

We need 50 of them. They will be set into cement on the Heritage Bench that will be built on the new Green for everyone to enjoy. These tiles and lots of smaller ones will go around the larger carved panels being made by other local people.

Using both hands smack the clay into a nice, round ball.

Gently press it down a bit, turn it over, press it down a little more.

Blend in any cracks that appear.

Using both hands gently press the clay in the rough shape you want. Use lots of small steps: clay likes to change shape gradually. Treat both sides equally so that your tile will be strong and wont warp.

Don’t make it thinner than 1.5 cm!!

You can tap it on the table, cut bits off, add bits on by rubbing the spot with a little water until it is sticky and then firmly adding more clay and blending it in.

Smooth both sides with your thumb. Do NOT use a rolling pin!! Rolling pins stretch and compact the clay unevenly causing tiles to warp in the firing.

Your tile must be a minimum of 1.5cm thick, maximum 2.5cm so that is sinks well into the cement, matches the others and leaves depth for carving your image.

IMPORTANT: On the back cut a random pattern like this using knife, a loop of wire or a loop tool. This will ensure your tile fires without cracking, doesn’t warp and is well bonded in the cement.

Now the fun bit!

You can draw straight onto the clay or use a photocopy of a photo or a sketch on paper. The image needs to be about Pontardawe history or the present day. It could be a place, event, activity or club you love, a person you admire, something about your community.

The fantastic Heritage Centre has an amazing collection of archive images you can use .

You can use all sorts of household items as tools. if you don’t like what you did just smooth it over! you can let it harden up a bit and carve away sharper edges.

Or moisten small bits of clay and add them on to build up your image. Play around and try things out. pressing textures always looks great. Take your time: these tiles will last for centuries and even if you have never done a drawing before I can genuinely promise that the care you put into your tile will shine out once it’s fired and set on the bench.

Wrap them in plastic to keep them damp while you work on them.

Here’s some examples made by all sorts of local people on projects I’ve run.