So how did this fish tiles thing happen in the first place? Ah, it is a long and winding road, my friend.
First of all, I'm not a stranger to laying tile in houses. Several years ago, I got very serious about this and took a class from an expert. My first project was a full bathtub surround with a few custom-glazed tile pieces inset into the pattern. Then I laid a kitchen floor/access area to a deck; about a 9 x 12 floor. I made and matched the glaze of a 1950s kitchen floor for a builder. No small feat, that. Next, I did a counter-top, then a free-flowing designed shower pad and a utility room floor. (My tile man raved about this and kept saying, "You did this? You did this?") And I've tiled the infamous shower stall half-way up to befuddlement.
But I digress. My initial thought for the overall design was to make bas-relief tiles using a full fish mold of plaster. So I made this. In the photo it appears to be an 'outtie', but it's an 'innie'.
And the cigar in the fish's mouth? That's added clay the stands above the height of the mold in order to make an indentation into the clay for an open mouth....think about it. I later cut it away on the second head and made a closed mouth on that mold.
I merrily pressed clay into the mold, pulled the slab out, flipped it over and, OH NO! the fish is pointing the wrong way. Well, not the WRONG way, just the opposite way I wanted it to. (Forehead slap)
Do my chicken-walk out of the studio and go back to the house to think.
Then a brilliant idea hit me. Take that clay fish and cut it into sections, bisque it and use it as a press-mold to go INTO the tiles. Sorta anti-bas-relief tiles. Sorta the intaglio/cameo effect. Then I realized I could make more than one head and more than one tail. I could introduce movement into the design. So I made these:
Notice I haven't bothered to be neat on the back or edges. No need since the mold is very thick, which I wanted for strength and the back or edges would never come into use. So now the fish will be pointed in the RIGHT direction.