How to Make Islamic Spanish Tiles

Written by fred samsa
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How to Make Islamic Spanish Tiles
You can paint your own Islamic tiles in an afternoon. (Islamic border image by mahmoudmahdy from

Traditional Islamic tiles are famous all over the world for the elegance of their design and their highly detailed craftsmanship. Many of these tiles were incorporated into the Islamic architecture of southern Spain, where their intricate designs were inflected with the bright colours common in Spanish ceramics. You can make your own Islamic Spanish tiles in an afternoon, even if you don't have access to a kiln and traditional ceramic glazes. With a few materials from the hardware store and a little creativity, you can bring some of the elegance of southern Spain to your own home.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Glazed ceramic tiles
  • Artist's oil paint
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Artist's brushes
  • Odourless mineral spirits
  • Clear urethane
  • Disposable brush
  • Rags

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  1. 1

    Draw an "x" on the face of your tile with a pencil and ruler, so that the centre of the "x" is in the middle of the tile. Islamic tile designs often radiate out from the centre, so this is a good place to start.

  2. 2

    Divide each of the quadrants on your tile in half with another straight line, so that there are eight lines radiating out from the centre of the tile. Connect these lines at the centre of the tile to create an eight-pointed star, a traditional Islamic tile motif.

  3. 3

    Design outward from your central star, creating regular abstract shapes to fill the rest of the space. Use traditional Islamic tile shapes (triangles, squares and hexagons) to create your own geometric pattern.

  4. 4

    Paint the design with oil paint and artist's brushes. Clean your brush thoroughly with odourless mineral spirits when switching colours, and again when you are finished painting.

  5. 5

    Allow the paint to dry for two days. Apply a coat of clear urethane to the dry tile to protect the paint and give it a glossy finish. Allow the urethane to dry for two days before handling the tile.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not use oil paints, solvents or urethane in an enclosed space. Always ensure adequate ventilation when working.

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