Welcome to the world of Tile Cement, a.k.a. Tile Adhesive.
This wonderfully versatile material is great for a whole range of plate making techniques.
It is a an essential foundation material for any printmaker who makes collagraph prints.
I am planning quite a few posts about it because I love it so much!
I have found that some students on courses take a while to appreciate its finer qualities, and of course it may not suit everyone.
If you try it and are not too sure about it, I would urge you to persevere as it can take a few experiments to really ‘get’ it.
Five excellent reasons why you should use Tile Cement for printing plates
One: It’s Flexible
The beauty of tile cement is that is to totally flexible when wet – you can impress into it, draw into it, scrape it off and put it back again, mould it over and round existing textures on your plate, apply it in layers with masks, burn it….. you get the picture.
Two: It’s Sticky
Tile cement will stick to almost any plate surface so you can use cardboard, metal, wood or plastic as your base plate.
Three: It’s Strong
Once it is dry tile cement is strong enough to withstand the pressure of the press, you can sand it, crack it, carve or scratch into it. And of course you can add pva, adhesive tape or carborundum to alter the tone in your plate.
(more posts are coming explaining all these activities)
Four: It’s cheap
As it is sold for the building trade you don’t pay inflated ‘art shop’ prices – you can buy big tubs of it, so you never need run out.
Five: It’s safe
It is non toxic, water based and doesn’t smell. Wash it off with water before it sets, but once it is dry you have to use sand paper to remove it mechanically, so remember to clean your tools as soon as you have finished using them.
Where can I buy it?
When visiting your local DIY Depot don’t be overwhelmed by the choice in the tile cement aisle.
I usually get the beige coloured Unibond tile adhesive. There are alternative brands, but as long as it is beige and only adhesive, (not grout) you should be fine. I avoid adhesive with grout as I think it is too gritty, but let me know if you try this and how it works for you.
The best tools for Tile Cement
Use tools that you can wash with water – so look for plastic, wood or metal.
It is good to build up a collection of palette knives, plastic sticks, potters tools, a range of combs, cut up plastic floor tiles or packaging materials, etc. You can also use you own fingers!
Once you get going you will quickly amass a whole collection of tools you like to use.
Please scroll down to the bottom for links to other blog posts with instructions for specific ways of using tile cement
Examples of prints from Tile Cement plates
Here is a mini gallery of prints made with tile cement to illustrate how versatile it is. Most are mine and some are students work from my courses.
If you would like to join a short course in my studio about printing with Tile Cement please have a look at the courses page for details
More posts with tile cement techniques
Crackle texture in tile cement