It’s a lengthy and gloriously creative process to go from shiny blank tile canvas to a hand painted feature splashback. And it starts with a cup of tea.

The Glasshouse Collection at Decorum Tiles

Hand painted tiles from the Glasshouse Collection at Decorum Studio Cornwall.  

There’s a lot of things to be thankful for working in Decorum Studio, the lovely, talented people, the creative atmosphere and the extensive selection of tea; Earl Grey, Biscuit (yes that’s a thing) and of course Cornish Tea’s, Smugglers Brew.  It’s pretty hard to resist all of the local produce so, on a happily regular basis, tea is accompanied by cake from St Kew Farm Shop & Cafe, just up the road from the tile studio.

Now that Spring is in full swing, one of the first things to do on arriving at Decorum Studio is open the stable doors to let in the light and warm air.  There's a vigilant cockerel patrolling the grounds who can often be seen marching past the stable doors checking we’re hard at work.  The studio looks out over a beautiful garden, onto a patchwork of fields and over to hills which drop away to the North Cornish coastline.  There’s an expansive skyline here, a lot of crystal clear blue sky to inspire everyone and a good place for a deep breath. 

Take a look at Decorum Studio Cornwall from the air!

Variety really is the spice of life and every day in the studio is different.  One day might involve screen printing a geometric tile design, such as Signal in Sea Green, another could be hand painting traditional tiles with Delft decors.  Painting butterflies in vibrant teal and lilac for our regular clients, Fired Earth, is a wonderful way to spend your work afternoon.  We’ve enjoyed a long business relationship with Fired Earth and have created various hand painted tile collections for them which are sold online and in their shops.

Walking you through the Tile Design Process

The very first step is to individually check the tiles for any imperfections, then they’re cleaned and next the outline of the design is added, whilst our unique and bespoke designs are done freehand.  Then the fun starts, mixing up the paint.  The paint is powdered, we add medium to make it liquid to paint with.  Depending on how much medium is added determines the strength of the colour.  When creating the Delft decors only one shade of blue is used, building up layers in washes of vibrancy to achieve the depth of the finished piece.

The washes are painted first and then allowed to dry before the outline is completed


Patience is a virtue when it comes to hand painting tiles.  You have to wait for the washes of colour to dry in between each stage so you have to think carefully about ordering your work.  The bees are a favourite to paint, starting with washes of lemon and english mustard.  Once dry we paint the round little body, delicate wings and the tiny hairs on their legs.  When finished they’re slid carefully into cranks holding 10 painted tiles apiece which are then stacked in the kiln ready for firing.  


painting Delft tiles

The excitement can be almost unbearable waiting whilst the tiles are fired in the kiln and then having to wait again until they’re cool enough to be unloaded, especially if it’s a new design we’ve been working on or there’s a special piece for a client.  This is actually the best part of working in a tile studio, seeing the finished tile, smooth and shiny, the painted image perfectly preserved in the glaze, ready to go into someone’s home.  The tiles could become a splashback, an Aga centre piece, a feature kitchen wall or floor to ceiling drama in a bathroom!  OK, so maybe the best bit of the job is receiving photographs of the tiles in people’s homes. We love getting them, they make everyone here smile and hopefully they make all our customers smile too.  Which is definitely the best bit of the job.

Please have a good look around our website at the hand made tiles we have available.  However, if you’re looking for a custom piece, a large panel for your kitchen or bathroom, a different combination of colours, or something special beautifully hand painted on tiles, please don’t hesitate to contact us and let's see what we can create together.