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handmade tile

updated thu 4 sep 03


Stephani Stephenson on wed 3 sep 03

I liked Nancy Guido's answer to the question of how to price handmade
relief tile and whether to get involved with installation.
I will second her advice.
I always advise that customer use a professional tile setter. your tile
is beautiful, why not give it the best installation? Tilesetters have a
wealth of knowledge. A good one can do the work quickly , efficiently
and thoroughly. They are bonded, and have the track record and ability
to back up their work and know the ins and outs of site preparation and
installation. Also , using a tilesetter relieves you of having to bid
and budget for the installation.

I has been a winding path, trying to figure out how to best charge for
what I do...Everyone has a different approach, some are methodical,
others are intuitive. there are really no set rules, no guidelines, and
there is a WIDE wide range of work and of prices.
Survey the field, and balance it with what you yourself do. Assess what
your own costs and needs are. The closest thing I have found for a
guidebook to pricing is actually the
Though it isn't specifically for tile and ceramics it does cover
related areas, and gives you a framework for thinking about how to
receive pay for your time and work.

RE: installation:
On some larger projects I have subcontracted the installation. I.e..
when I am bidding the project I will get a bid from a couple of
tilesetters, then include their bid into my bid.
Sometimes I will recommend a tilesetter to a customer, but most of the
time the customer is responsible for finding a tilesetter. usually they
are already working with a contractor and the contractor will have their
own tilesetter or connections to one.

If I was doing a very complex job, say a mosaic installation I may want
to be onsite or assist , or manage the installation .. If so I would
be sure to include that time into my bid.

sometimes you are just providing the tile, and simply charge for the
tile, shipping and the packing. Other times you may get into design work
, meetings with contractors, etc.
I call this 'time and services'.
When I do bid hourly time into a project, I generally will charge $50 an
As for prices of relief tile, so much depends on the degree of relief,
the complexity of glazing, etc. Handmade relief tile is a wonderful way
of working with clay. I love relief tile. There are some people doing
beautiful work in relief tile. Check around and see what is out there,
there is a HUGE range . Do not try to compete in price with the type of
relief tile you find at Home Depot, You can't do it.
One thing to keep in mind is what your relief tile will be surrounded
with. Will you tie in with existing field tile? Glazes? Also thickness
may be an issue... Most of the tile I make is about 5/8" thick and it is
accompanied by field tile of the same thickness. You will need to
consider the thickness of your tile, the depth of relief, and how it
will relate to the tile around it , sizewise and thickness wise.
The topic of "how to make good relief tile" is a topic both deep and
wide!, it is an art and it requires a good degree of craftsmanship, just
like other aspects of working with clay.

A fairly simple 6X6 monochrome relief tile at Alchemie Studio sells for
about $30, a polychrome tile of that size will fetch about $50 -$60.
Pricing can vary depending on the degree and complexity of relief, the
complexity of glazing etc., and the reputation and skill of the tile

best wishes
Stephani Stephenson