A true treasure is hidden behind the doors of this former locksmith's shop in the Klarenbrunn factory: the tile manufactory KARAK, a young company from Vorarlberg that combines tradition and modernity. As masters of craftsmanship, they understand the craft of tile firing, combining the elements of earth, fire, air, water in a very special way.
The special design of the tiles is due to the millennia-old Japanese firing technique "raku", which gives the tiles a unique surface. Each tile is different. Individual patterns after consultation with customers make each project unique. Digitally developed ornaments form special geometric shapes that symbolize the relationship between East and West. Another special feature: the basis of the tile, the clay and loam earth, is produced in cooperation with Lehmtonerde Baukunst GesmbH in Schlins.
Earth - Once the mixture of clay, earth, quartz sand and fireclay is ready, it is pressed into the desired tile shape and pre-fired. Each individual tile is then closely scrutinized, with a little sanding here and there. Did you know that each tile is handled 30 times until it is finished? Unbelievable! It remains exciting: now we have the "blank", but how do these unique patterns get onto the tiles? This happens through another special technique: the screen printing process. This is used to press the desired ornament onto the tiles using a template.
Fire - off to the oven! Now it gets quite warm. At approx. 1000°C the ceramic tile is now "baked". Through the firing, the tile is strengthened and the typical sound is created when you knock on the tile.
Air - Attention, hot! The tiles are now taken out of the oven very carefully one by one with tongs and immediately placed in a bed of sawdust and buried underneath. And now the magic begins ... The result is always a surprise in terms of glaze colors! For the specially made glazes color pigments are mixed with metal oxides such as copper, tin, chrome, iron. On the typical black background, they bloom after firing in the ornaments like geometric flowers. Through the naturally occurring fine cracks in the glaze, the Krakelée, you can feel the liveliness of the archaic raku firing to the smallest detail.
Water - After the sawdust bed, the almost-finished tiles now enter a water bath that cools the tiles. The temperature shock gives our tiles a crackle every now and then. After the tiles have cooled, they are polished with vinegar and/ or citric acid, this process often takes several days. The tiles are polished until the color does not change anymore. It is almost magical how something so unique can be created. Now it is ready, our tile. And one is more beautiful than the other.
What an exciting experience to get a glimpse into the everyday life of a tile burner. Even more so when it comes to such special tiles. How much love and passion is hidden behind every single tile is truly incredible. A special product with special stories, created by special people and with special materials.
More information about the tile factory Karak can be found here.
Info about the Klarenbrunn factory can be found here.
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