Tiles, tiles, tiles! They´re all around you when you visit Portugal. I like them so much that I went to visit the National Tile Museum in Lisbon last month. Therefore I was very excited when I saw that in Porto there’s a tile painting workshop. I emailed the organisers and signed up for a 2 hour session.
On the day we were doing Portuguese style tile painting. There were about 15 of us, most of us adults but there was also a little girl with her dad. We started by drawing our design on white paper. There were a few available ones there but I had done my homework and took my own ones. (I love sea turtles, you see.) After the white paper we copied the design to see through paper.
We drew over this with a piece of charcoal.
When it was ready we copied the design onto the tile by rubbing it with a piece of cord. The charcoal transferred neatly on the tile. It gave us the guide lines but will disappear in the oven during the firing.
Now came the fun part. The only colour of paint we used came in a powder form and it was pink! We were reassured many times that it will become blue in the oven. You have to mix the powder with water. Logically the more powder you add to the water the darker the colour becomes. All we needed to do now is to colour in our designs, playing with the lighter/darker shades. At the end we drew the outlines over with the darkest shade.
The 2 hours seemed like plenty of time so I did two designs.
Interestingly in the program brochure I got it said that the workshop is aimed at tourists however there were only two of us foreigners. It was a truly Portuguese experience and that’s how I like it. It also meant that the workshop was conducted in Portuguese as the instructor didn’t speak English very well however she spoke perfect Spanish. At the end it didn’t matter as tile painting is all practical, after all.
When we finished the instructor told us about another workshop the next day, which used the crueda seca style, which came from the Muslims. I was so into this that I went on the next day, too, again armed with my own designs. Here again we were about 15 of us but only 6 adults, the rest were all children. I was the only foreigner.
The drawing and the transferring of the designs were all the same as yesterday. Here we started with the outline of the designs. This black paint will stay on the tile as we paint it.
Then we used a variety of colours to colour the design in. It was very interesting as the paint did not get absorbed into the tile like yesterday but stayed on top creating a layer. If you paint it over a few times the painted parts become elevated.
It took more time to do these designs but I still managed to do two.
A few days later I got a lovely email saying that the students really enjoyed showing their culture to a foreigner and that I can go to pick up the ready tiles and I even got two cute certificates, too!
I think amongst all the great things we experienced in Portugal this was my favourite. They both lasted for 2 hours, the first one cost 7.5 euros and the second 2.5, which is VERY reasonable I think. It seems that there are a few workshops out there similar to this one but if you’d like to try this, send an email to this address. Read about it on their official website or check out their blog.