NB: I'm laughing right now, because looking at the photos I took of the process of painting the floor clearly reveals that a cat or cats used the kitchen floor for a napping place sometime over the last day or so :) I didn't actually notice the incredible amount of cat hair until I was putting an acrylic glaze on the floor!
Here are the tiles before I started painting -- dry, not shrunk at all, but cracked in places.
I don't think I've ever painted clay before, certainly not as an adult. What I should have realized was that it's incredibly absorbent, of course.
I did a watery wash of raw umber, first, to bring out the grouting.
The paler places are where the tiles have dried right out. Fortunately a little of the raw umber was left where I wanted it.
I then did what I'd normally do: start putting on thin washes of colour (palette at the moment raw umber, burnt sienna and black) on individual tiles. The thin washes didn't work terribly well, because the water dried leaving very little impression of the pigment. I decided to seal the tiles before going any further (which I would do right at the beginning, in the future.
I used what I had on hand - acrylic gloss medium really watered down (to take away some of the gloss). Seems to work fine. Any clear acrylic craft finish with a satin or matte finish would be great.
Ah, cat hair. *sigh* But this close up of the tiles after being sealed shows that they're definitely coming along. Lots to do yet, but it's a good first stage.
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