In 1922, Bharat Floorings and Tiles was founded on the belief to evolve the nation. When The Bharat Flooring tile company first started in 1922, in Uran, there was no electricity, water or telephone service. The only links with Bombay (now Mumbai) were the fishing boats which plied when the weather was fair. The Sidhwa family owned large sheds in Uran to manufacture liquor from mogra and rose flowers, oranges and other fruits. Since the sheds lay idle after the British introduced prohibition, the tiles were produced in those sheds and travelled from there to all parts of India. As part of the Swadeshi movement, our founders pioneered the cement tiles industry in the country, producing tiles of international quality to replace imports, and building the company on the principles of quality, integrity and service.
The founder of The Bharat flooring tile company in 1922 travelled across Europe and USA and bought the finest elements of this art form to India. They modified and created fresh designs to suit Indian taste and developed a unique process to suit the conditions. In 1923, when Pherozesha was dissatisfied with a batch of black and white tiles made for Sir Cowasji Jehangir’s New Readymoney Mansion (Flora Fountain/Hutatma Chowk) in Mumbai, he stopped the delivery and took the dramatic step of having the entire batch thrown into the sea. When he travelled to Europe to find the remedy, he was told his tiles were perfect, only the polishing was not! The new batch is still found in parts of this building, even after 90 years!
The invention of coloured cement in Europe in the late 19th century introduced the exciting possibilities of encaustic cement flooring tiles that would grow more beautiful over the years if the tiles were maintained efficiently.
The tiles produced were of fantastic quality and in a few years, Bharat Tiles were chosen over the imported tiles not just by the maharajas in 1934 during the Raj period and by affluent patriotic Indians, but also by Britishers!
Manufacturing cement tiles is an art form, passed down from generation to generation. None of these tiles is uniform in pattern. The manufacturing process is very tedious since each tile is made by the hand step by step. The steps are as follows –
1) Blending – The pigment composition is a mixture of high-quality white Portland cement, marble powder and natural mineral colour pigments. Then the ingredients are blended together carefully over a period of hours to produce the final colours.
2) Molding – The colours are filled by hand with a metal mold. The pigment gets poured into the mould, colour by colour, exactly according to the desired pattern. The metal mold, containing the desired pattern is handmade from specific design drawings. Handmade cement tiles are unique and are expected to have slight imperfections in them maybe in terms of colour shades or design pattern. No line on the cement tile will be straight, which gives them character and depth in the designs.
3) Compressing – A cork in the form of a strong metal plate is applied at the top of the mold and the tile is pressed using a mechanical hydraulic press. The pressure applied is up to 1 ton per square inch, which produces a compact tile.
4) Hardening – After pressing the tiles are removed from the mold and placed on the rack until they are hard enough too moved into a tank of water. The tiles are emerged to harden in a water bath for 24 hours. Lastly, the tiles are stored in dry storage racks for 7 days, for the final hardening process.
These cement tiles are made by hand, one at a time, using coloured pigments. The coloured pigments are blended together with the cement material, then poured into the mould which is handmade, following which they are hydraulically pressed into the surface to become a part of the tile...Unlike mass produced products, slight irregularities in lines and some variation in shades are the hallmark and charm of handcrafted products. The setting process of cement generates heat, hence like certain Chinese porcelain glazes, this may create fine cracks known as crazing, which enhances their antique look. The elegance of Bharat’s floor art is timeless, and their silken sheen improves over the years.
The standard size of these tiles is 20cm*20cm. Since it is made by hand, the time for delivery takes 4-6 weeks. As they say – True art takes time!
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