It is believed that the Moor’s brought the technique of making pressed encaustic tiles to Europe. When they invaded Spain and the south of Portugal they introduced the tiles with their colourful and Moorish designs. Around 1800 Europeans started using cement for industrial purposes on a large scale. Around 1850 there were already some cement factories spread around Europe and they were looking for new products to make from cement. The first cement tile factory was founded in England in 1836 and soon after Belgium followed with the T. Picha & Cie Factory in Gent.
Also in Belgium they found new a process to press “dry” cement tiles, which could compete in beauty and quality with the ceramic tiles or mosaic floors. Around 1910 there were more than 100 factories producing cement tiles in Belgium. After the First World War the cement tiles were very popular for reconstruction. The first reference to a factory in Spain is Butsems i Companya in 1857. A few years later the hydraulic cement tiles became very popular in Barcelona with the new Art Nouveau style designs. After a rapid expansion throughout Spain and the south of France they became also fashionable in the rest of Europe. The Spanish and Portuguese introduced the technique of hydraulic pressed cement tiles to South America, the French brought it to Vietnam, the English to India and the Dutch introduced the technique into Indonesia. The process of producing the cement tiles didn’t change much over time and nowadays they are made all around the world. Although the facilities or factories can be different in seize, production capacity and quality, the tiles are still made with the same technique. Only sometime in the mid-19th century the technique was re discovered to mass- produce these tiles without the need for firing to harden or set them. Encaustic tiles, encaustic cement tiles or hydraulic tiles where reborn.
History of cement tiles in Indonesia-Bali:
Cement tiles were introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch; Firma Tegel Fabrik “Midden Java” was jointly founded by Louis Maria Stocker & Jules Gerrit Commane in 1927 in Jogjakarta. Also in Surabaya there were cement tile factories build in the 1920’s. When and where the first factories were built in Bali we don’t know, but the Dutch used the tiles in Bali in their government buildings, hotels, restaurants and homes. There are still some buildings with their original cement tiles on the floors and walls.
As we practiced working with the traditional colors we also began to experiment with making new colors. At that time the industry was only using 6 basic colors: yellow, green, red, blue, black and white. Through mixing we developed our own pallet of 60 unique colors, many of which we’re still using today. Our colors range from pure white to stark black, bright yellow to luscious red. Our mentor was pleasantly surprised and impressed when we started to create samples with these colors.
We continued to create designs with the molds we had purchased from the former tile producers. Once we had a nice collection we brought them back to the antique shop and began to promote ourselves as a business. In the beginning we focused on the classic, traditional patterns. These were developed from purchased molds as well as reproductions from patterns we’d seen in old buildings here in Bali. However, we soon realized the potential in combining the traditional materials with more contemporary designs. So we launched our own set of original Sadus Tiles designs in molds and received a positive response.