Tile and Error

In general, I’m a fan of the Arts and Crafts movement style. It’s also got the added bonus of having some similarities to the maker movement: combining the design process with the creation process, ensuring that the things you have are up to your own standard of quality, and appreciating the role of the craftsperson in the design. I’ve got a few books on constructing A&C style furniture (which one day I’ll gather the nerve to attempt), and a fair amount of the decor in my home is A&C. Until I do finally build that Morris chair, I thought being able to create my own art tiles would be a cool challenge. The difficulty being, all I know about working with clay comes from trying to plant a vegetable garden in the soil around here.

Seriously, a major shoutout to anyone who doesn’t just run from clay, screaming

What I do know something about, though, is 3D printing. So, I thought I could print an art tile, paint it to look (marginally) like a ceramic tile, and frame it. To start, I went looking for a reference image. If you’re ever bored, do an image search for Arts and Crafts tiles; there is some really amazing work out there. But, I finally found an image that would suit my needs: looked nice, but simple, since this would be my first attempt at such a thing

Please note, I could not find the original artist for this tile. If you know who it is, please let us know, so we give them credit

With that, I imported the image into FreeCAD (my design software of choice), and tried to work out how to do what I wanted. What I settled on was to draw outlines (in the Sketcher workbench) around the raised edges in the image and extrude the resulting face. And, like all good projects, I figured out a better way to do it after the fact.

FreeCAD will let you import SVG files and do the same extrusion process that I had been using. So, I could have drawn the basic shape (much more easily) in Inkscape, outset it how I needed (still in Inkscape) and then imported it into FreeCAD and used extrude. This would have made it much simpler, as the Sketch process has some limitations in terms of freeform curves, such as the dragonfly wings (it doesn’t seem to like them).

For a more in depth explanation on this process, there are any number of excellent tutorials on YouTube.

And now, the simple part! Printing! I’ve already got my printer set up, and I recently set up OctoPi, so now I can send things to it wirelessly. What could possibly go wrong?

Got a few minutes?

Yeah. As it turns out, my printbed was “somewhat” out of level. A bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, actually. Since my printer doesn’t have automatic bed levelling, I had to adjust it by hand, which is…not my favorite job. But, once that was done, the print was on its way (okay, there was 1 more failure, but it was a fluke. Just a second try at printing fixed it.)

And that’s where I’m at, right now. I’m hoping that this week I’ll be able to try and paint it, as well as build a frame to mount it in, so I can report back to you all in the near future. If you’ve got any questions or ideas, let us know on social media.

Design It.

Print It.

Make It Dayton.