Tag Archives: Glaze

Endangered Species Awareness Tile: Mexican Spotted Owl

In 2012 Syzygy received the honor and challenge of being selected to produce the latest Laguna Clay Company Endangered Species Tile.  Each year since 1992 Laguna Clay has said thank you to their customers with a limited edition tile.  These beautiful tiles help to raise awareness of different threatened species every year.

For inspiration we looked no further than our own Gila Wilderness located just outside of Silver City. Unfortunately we had several choices as many creatures found in this massive wilderness are threatened.  Together with Laguna we selected the Mexican Spotted Owl.

Syzygy artist Ray Peelman, who handles most of our custom tile commissions, designed a stunning tile to submit for approval.  We added a quote from famed conservationist Aldo Leopold, who was instrumental in establishing the Gila Wilderness, and after some small tweaking we were ready to begin.

The process of carving the master tile and producing production molds is pretty standard for us. The real challenge came when we were ready to glaze the tiles.  We decided to use a single glaze, Desert Green, to bring this tile to life.  This glaze is a subtle brown when applied thinly and a stunning green develops as more layers are applied.  Normally we use brushes to apply glaze.  This project, however, required us to learn new techniques, experiment with different methods and utilize new tools and pushed as far as we have ever gone to achieve a desired look on a tile.


We created miniature rollers to apply glaze to the quote surrounding the tile on two sides.  This allowed us to “quickly” apply glaze to the letters and maintain an unglazed background for greater contrast.


Next we learned how to bulb glaze.  This is a fairly common glaze application technique but not one that we use here at Syzygy.  Again, we did this to create higher contrast between the background and the owl and tree that are the real focus of the design.


Next we worked on the owl and the tree that it rests in.  We spent many days perfecting our technique on practice pieces before attempting it on the limited edition tiles.  The challenge was to apply enough glaze to accentuate the design while keeping the contrast that allows the owl to stand out.


Finally, the branches that defy the borders were glazed with a brush that we don’t pick up very often. Fortunately, Mel has the hands of a brain surgeon.


The results exceeded even our high expectations for this project.  We are immensely proud of our efforts and the tiles that they produced.  Feel free to stop by our showroom to see our Mexican Spotted Owl and all the other endangered species tiles that we are collecting here at Syzygy



Custom Design

The secret’s getting out that Syzygy will make just about anything you can dream up.  Well, it isn’t a secret anymore.  Over the years we’ve produced a number of custom requests from the mundane to the exquisite and everything in between.  The care and pride we put into a modest toilet paper dispenser is equal to that of the elaborate decorations on a custom fireplace.  The truth is that we love the challenge and artistry involved in producing custom designs!

Recently we received an inquiry from a designer who had a client with a very specific request.  This client had an interest in Asian folklore.  He and his company were presented with an antique Japanese hammer and ever since business has been booming.  The client wanted tiles made with the image of the hammer on them and came with a drawing in hand.  Fortune clearly does smile on this client because the designer knew just who to turn to for this special project.  She sent us the drawing and the story and asked us what we could do.



We researched the lore surrounding Daikoku, a Japanese god associated with wealth and prosperity, and his hammer.  Our artist produced a drawing based on the image provided and inspired by our additional research.


Our first drawing didn’t exactly match what the client envisioned.  It did, however, open the client’s imagination to a much more detailed and three dimensional design than what he originally hoped for.  Further discussion and shared inspiration lead to the final approved drawing.


Then came the most difficult step for any client; waiting to see the finished work.  It was, without question, well worth the time, effort and patience – we think you will agree.



We love to know that we were able to realize the vision and bring such a personally significant element into this client’s home.  As a small, handmade tile maker we are able to do this regularly for people at a fraction of the cost that you would expect for a commissioned work of art.


Custom Color Matching

One of the most exciting things happening at Syzygy lately has been the increased interest in custom color matching.  We have been sent samples of everything from the home: stone, fabric, paint and, of course, tile.  This service hasn’t been well advertised, but that hasn’t stopped designers from requesting it.  In fact, we have received so many requests that we’ve recently invested in acquiring more stains and other glaze ingredients.  Now we are even better equipped to find just the color, texture and finish that you’re looking for.

A few of the many ingredients used

A few of the many ingredients used

The first step in the process is to send us a sample of the color you want to match.  As always, the more info you can give us, the better!  We will spend the next week or so testing and retesting to find the right mix of ingredients to match your sample.  Once we are satisfied that we are as close as we can get, we will select a range of results and send them to you for review and approval. While the results may not always be exact, the overwhelming majority of custom color match requests lead directly to orders being placed.

A sampling of our custom color results

A sampling of our custom color results

Our success can be directly attributed to Addie, our glaze department lead, and Joslin, who mixes all of our glazes.  Before these two teamed up, our results were inconsistent.  Now the majority of our color matches are successful.

Addie (L) and Joslin (R)

Addie (L) and Joslin (R)

This service is an incredible value and just another example of what makes working with Syzygy so special.  To find out how our color matches work and just what a great a value it is, contact us the next time your client needs that color and tile that can’t be found anywhere else – except at Syzygy.