The Broken Tile Technique

As you already know well by now and as you have read in this blog, when it comes to making and decorating tiles, there are very different techniques that come from a rather remote past and that are still used today. Of course, the same processes are followed, although in many cases, the media are different and more modern.

Today we are going to talk about a technique with Catalan origin, the trencadis or broken tiles technique.

The Broken Tile Technique

This technique, as we say, has a Catalan origin. It is a type of ornamental mosaic decoration that is made from fragments of ceramic tiles that are joined together with mortar . We can find it very commonly in Catalan modernist architecture, and it is very characteristic.

What is the history of this technique?

Modernist architects already had a predilection for the use of ceramic tiles in their works, but it was Antoni Gaudí (creator of the Sagrada Familia and many other buildings in Catalonia) who created a system hitherto unheard of: using pieces of tiles to decorate walls and walls. This is the broken tile technique.

Experts say that on one occasion Gaudí went to Lluís Brú's workshop and when he saw how they placed the tiles, he took one and a flowerpot and broke it while saying: “They have to be put in handfuls, otherwise we never finish” . Josep María Jujol is considered the most responsible for the execution of this technique.

The execution

To make it, unwanted tiles from the Pujol i Bausis factory, in Esplugas de Llobregat, were used, as well as ceramic fragments from different sources. And the technique for making the mosaics was that of the opus tessellatum .

Vivid colored glazed tiles were used to achieve the chromaticism, thus achieving the maximum shine effect thanks to the light reflecting directly on the compositions.

The pieces could be created with an indirect method of application, after designing with a paper template in the workshop, with which the drawing was covered with tile fragments. Then it was taken to the place where it was going to be, and on that surface it was arranged in the opposite direction.

It could also be done without prior design, applying it directly to a white mortar surface. The end result depended on the skill of the craftsman who could make enough modifications to the surface to give a feeling of spontaneity.

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