Tumbled Stone Tiles

Class taught by Heather T. on 3/18/05


Link to gallery:
Tumbled Stone Tile Technique Gallery on Flickr


  • Tumbled stone tiles. In the US you can get them at Home Depot in a shrink wrapped pack of 9 (awkward number, but that’s what it is). These are not the glazed-surface ones, but stone with holes in it (see pictures). Also a damp paper towel to wipe the dust off the stones before you begin



  • Lumiere paints, calligraphy inks, reinkers, PearlEx… pretty much anything you can use to paint or lay down a pretty color with
  • Roll of thin cork (can be bought in the US at an office store like Office Max, or at auto parts stores) to be used for the backing, E6000 glue for adhering the cork to the tile, wooden skewer for spreading glue
  • Stamp(s), preferably not too intricate as the surface of the tile will have pretty significant gaps in it and eat your detail
  • Diamond glaze or other sealant (UTEE, embossing powders, Krylon clear spray, for example)
  • Soft paintbrush, ruler, pencil, cutting implement
  • Plain white napkins or art tissue, and other decoupage items if you wish
  • Heat gun and wooden cutting board or some other material that won’t absorb heat–the stone gets really hot!
  • StazOn ink or other permanent ink

Step One – Pear Tile:

Wipe down the tiles (front, back and sides) with a slightly damp paper towel to get the dust off. Measure the back of your tile and subtract approximately 1/2″ (1 cm) on each side to get a good measurement for the cork. Cut out cork pieces of that size, enough for the amount of tile you’re making. I ended up making my backing 3 1/4″ x 3 1/4″. One long strip of cork was enough to make seven backs.

Set aside the backs–they’ll be the last thing that you put on.


Step 2 – Tile Staining:

A really good way to keep the unfinished (tumbled) aspect of your tile is to simply stain it with ink. The ink seeps into the stone and colors it lightly, leaving you with a virtually untouched stone–just in another color. Staining it also allows you to give the stone a uniform undercoat if you’re going to paint it, and is a good way to get some light color on the sides and bottom without having to wait for paint to dry in those areas. That said, it’s completely optional. =) I have some sepia ink from Verano, Italy (where they make all that fabulous blown glass), and I’m also using Ph. Martins ink for another style of tile. Warmer colors work better, it seems–the blue comes out sort of gray.

You can either paint the tile with a bit of water and then spread out the ink, or do the reverse. Unless you’re going to use the ink as your final coat, you probably want it to be fairly translucent. Don’t worry about getting the ink in all the nooks and crannies. If you have a big hole dig your paintbrush in there a little, but otherwise just let the ink seep at will.


Step 3 – Base Coat & Stamping:

Take a fairly dry brush and dip it into the Lumiere paints you’re going to use, covering the top and sides of the tile. I used metallic gold and bronze, swooshing them here and there until it was all covered. I just laid a thin coat on–the understaining provides a nice contrast in the holes.


Put a little Colorbox black (or other black pigment) onto a plate. With a fairly dry brush, cover the stamp (A Stamp in the Hand) with a good coat of black. Dip your brush in water, and swipe off a bit of paint where you want the highlights to be. Turn the stamp over onto the tile, press down evenly, and remove. Highlight open areas with appropriate colors (I used Metallic Bronze Ph. Martins calligraphy ink, and gold and bronze Lumiere paints). This works well with the pear, but if you have a different type of stamp, you may not be highlighting in this manner, and just coloring in the stamp when you’re finished.


Step 4 – Finishing:

Heat set with your heat gun when Lumiere paints are dry enough to touch. When tile is cool, take it outside and spray it with clear acrylic sealer on the front and sides. Let dry (this may be overnight, depending on your sealant), then turn it over. Take your cork backing, apply a small gob of E6000 glue in each corner and in the middle, then use a wooden skewer to smear it about. The surface does not have to be entirely covered, but there shouldn’t be any major gaps around the edges. Smooth the cork onto the tile, and you’re done! Don’t forget to sign the back of your work, too. A Sharpie works just fine.





Here’s a brief run-down of the techniques used on the other types of tile:


Wipe the tile off with a damp cloth, then paint with glitter medium.


Stamp your image (About Art Accents) with a permanent ink (I used Ranger Adirondack Black) onto one ply of a dinner napkin. Cut the image fairly close to the edges, then lay down on the tile. Use a soft paintbrush to gently push the tissue onto the glitter medium.


You can add more glitter medium or use Diamond Glaze or a plain matte gel medium to cover the tissue (I also covered the rest of the tile with the Diamond Glaze). Be watchful for when the tissue gets saturated and starts to disintegrate–don’t push it. Let dry, put on the backing, and you’re good to go!

Ink, PearlEx, and Embossing Powder


For this one I took the lightly stained tile in blue (shown in step No. 1 above) and placed several drops of both blue and purple Ph. Martins Calligraphy ink on the front of the tile, and used a paintbrush to move the color around until it was entirely covered and well-saturated. Then I added some red/blue duo PearlEx in various blue spots. I could (should?) have stopped there–the effect was gorgeous! But no… I stamped the crane tsuba (Art Neko) in Gold Brilliance, wasn’t too thrilled with the lack of oomph, so wiped the whole thing off. This too was a really nice effect, since it edged the holes in the tile with gold. I could (should?) have stopped there, but no… I stamped the image once again with Colorbox Gold Rush and it stood out much better, so I sprinkled it with Ranger Pearl Gold embossing powder… which promptly stuck *everywhere* on the front of the tile. I heat gunned the whole thing, then re-emphasized the image by over-stamping it in Black Staz-On. So much for experimenting.

Massive Mixed Media


For this one, I took the red-stained tile pictured above in Step 1, swiped a Versamark pad over it, then sprinkled some Opalettes (from Oz–thanks to my connections!) in darker red and purple and filled in the rest with clear UTEE (the Opalettes are colored UTEE). Then I added another coat of clear, then sprinkled a few multi-colored micro-beads and pressed them into the still warm (hot!) cover. Finally I did one more layer with a gold-toned Opalette and more clear UTEE.


I took a plain tile, spritzed some Butterscotch Adirondack alcohol inks onto it and rubbed it in with my fingers (did the sides and back too). I then spritzed some of the Blending Solution onto the front and let it make funky patterns, then dry.


Then I tore a couple of bits out of a Chinese calendar I have, and with Pebeo Gel Medium (Matte) I painted a bit of the tile, then stuck the calendar bit to it, then painted over that with more medium. I did the same for a copy of a postage stamp and a couple of collage images from Art Neko.

Lumiere Paints

This tile is actually smaller, and a smooth glazed finish (I bought these before I could find the tumbled stone ones). But you can use these too!


First I painted the tile with Lumiere paint, then stamped (all stamps Art Neko) with Brilliance gold. The background image gets pretty fuzzy, though. The main image is stamped with StazOn Black, and then the entire tile is covered with Diamond Glaze.

As you can see, your options are quite wide! I’d still like to experiment with alcohol inks on the glaze–I wonder if it would just slide off or sink in and be fabulous. Perhaps someone will let us know! Please upload your own creations in the gallery:

Tumbled Stone Tile Technique Gallery on Flickr

Let me know if you have any questions!

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