Machuca Tiles: The History And Process Of These Iconic And Festive Tiles
When one hears the word Machuca, you are reminded of tiles from your favorite Spanish tapas restaurant or your aunt’s Mediterranean-themed home. But in fact, Machuca is the surname of the clan that brought the idea and technology of cement tile-manufacturing in the Philippines about 100 years ago. It’s often mistaken as a generic term, until Machuca eventually became synonymous to Mediterranean-patterned tiles.
The establishment of Machuca Tiles dates back to the early 1900s when founder Jose Machuca y Sanchez brought the concept directly from Barcelona, Spain. The motif inscribed on the tiles is of Mediterranean style, characterized by mix of efflorescent patterns and geometric patterns. The company takes pride in their handmade cement tiles, but back in the days, they also carried on sculptures, terrazzo benches, and even fountains. Since then, Machuca Tiles has become a signature of traditional Filipino homes, with their tiles laid out on our lolo and lolas’ doorsteps.
The very craft of cement tile-making has been passed on to four generations and with the times go the changing pace of interior design. Today, both the classic and modern patterns of Machuca tiles can be seen in hundreds of homes, restaurants, offices, and even churches across the country.
While the company remains old-fashioned in terms of the tile-making process, it’s now able to create higher quality tiles because of technology. Machuca Tiles currently has 16 artisans who handcraft their beautifully-patterned tiles. While the craft takes years to master, the founder’s greatgrandson, Jaime, shares the step-by-step process of Machuca tile making:
Step 1: Pattern Customization
Machuca Baldozas Inc. is best known for the customization service they offer. To start off, clients may send their design pegs which will be first simulated digitally. Once finalized, the computer generated design will be handmade into a custom metal tile mold which the tilemakers will use in the actual tile-making process.
Step 2: Color Mixing
Machuca Tiles has a ‘color master’ who is in charge of mixing color pigments and cements together to achieve the most accurate shades in contrast to the computer-generated designs. Over the years, Machuca Tiles has created standardized pigment measurements in attaining the truest colors for the tiles.
Step 3: Color And Cement Layering
Once the right pigments are achieved, the tilemakers pour the paint colors one at a time into the handmade metal tile mold. The metal pattern is tightly enclosed and held by a steel frame so the paint won’t mix and seep through.
Step 4: Tile Pressing
Unlike with ceramic tiles, Machuca tiles are neither baked nor heated. After the pigments are poured into the pattern, the metal tile frame gets filled with a layer of moist cement. Once laid flat, the metal frame is pressed using a manually-operated machine called “bara” to smoothen the tile surface and leave it even. The cement-layering process is repeated until the right thickness of the tile is achieved.
Step 5: Curing
After the layering process, the tiles are pretty much done and are good to go. But to ensure and control its quality, the tiles undergo a curing process that takes about 9-15 days. Tiles are soaked in a tub of water for a couple of hours and coated with sealers to intensify its colors and depth.
Step 6: Cutting
Tiles are cut according to the clients’ desired measurements and shapes. Machuca Tiles has professional cutters who trim the tiles’ borders and corners to fit into the areas it will be used on.
Step 7: Delivery
After three to four weeks, the customized Machuca tiles are ready for delivery. Packaged in crates which are also made in-house, the tiles are set for shipping and use.
This story first appeared on CondoLiving Magazine’s March 2018 issue. Edits were made for CondoLiving.OneMega.com