The traditional process of tile-making has changed very little
since his first piece made back in 1994.
The Memory Blocks are made by local artisans using the distinctive
ingredients of porcelain-like plaster, ingeniously combined
with time and patience.
Combining a painter's eye and the experimenting skills of an alchemist, Sid Dickens manufactures full-of-character decorative tiles from his cozy Production Studio in downtown Vancouver - A utilitarian and serene studio-cum-production space where Dickens' Memory Blocks are created at the pace of a few thousands a week. Quality is ensured by a fully integrated manufacturing process that guarantees complete control over the entire production line at every step, from moulding to pouring and hand-painting to finishing.
The traditional process of tile-making has changed very little since his first piece made back in 1994. The Memory Blocks are made by local artisans using the distinctive ingredient of porcelain-like plaster, ingeniously combined with time and patience.
At the first stage of the design process, Sid Dickens uses 3D printing technology for rapid prototyping some of the sculptural Memory Blocks. Returning then to the traditional methods of sculpting, mould- making and plaster casting in order to build the final product.
Sid Dickens' Memory Blocks are made of a high quality porcelain-like plaster, free of any toxic solvents. He creates his own handmade 6” x 8” polyurethane moulds, which are used several times before disposal. Plaster is manually poured into the molds and left to harden. The blocks are left to dry naturally and then stored in a muffled kiln to release any remaining moisture.
Once the Memory Block is dry, hand-crafted and top-coated, the decorating stage begins. Different techniques of glazing, gilding, and staining are methodically applied in layers to achieve the colour, texture and desired finish. Many of the Memory Blocks also contain metals (iron paint, gold and silver leaf, etc)– leading to a tactile and reflective texture.
All paints, stains, and coatings used are water based. The only solvent used is biodegradable and made out of orange peel by a Canadian company based in New Brunswick. These products settle naturally into the plaster, leaving a slightly raised and shiny effect, becoming part of the body of the pieces. Plaster is durable and resists the wear of time, without adding additional weight to the walls.
The in-house team of artisans carefully apply the desired finish either by freehand or with stamps and stencils. Each tile that leaves the warehouse bears the pride of these artisans for whom these Memory Blocks represent; not just the fruit of their labor, but also the heritage of what has become a tradition. As these Memory Blocks are the work of artisans, slight imperfections, irregular edges and the appearance of fine crazing are inherent to the product and an inseparable part of their distinctive character.
At our Vancouver factory, 35 trained craftspeople work together in teams to create the Memory Blocks following the exact manufacturing method devised by Sid Dickens in 1994.
The company does not outsource any work or any part of the production process. All products are 100% handmade at our production studio by skillful pourers, stainers, gilders, and painters – from start to finish. Sid Dickens Inc. has an in-house packaging and shipping department which keeps operating with the same functional packaging system that was custom designed for its first shipping. This original packaging was conceived and designed by Sid Dickens to perfectly fit the 6” x 8” Memory Blocks and has withstood over the years the rigors of shipping and handling with minimal damage.
We recycle as much material as possible, taking special care with all production waste. We only use non-chemical and natural solvents sourced in Canada, hand-made from orange peel in New Brunswick. All our paints and coatings are water based, sourced in North America and made from sustainable materials.
For over 20 years we have been committed to sustaining well-functioning and bio-diverse ecosystems in the amazing region we operate, British Columbia, Canada.
To read more about Sid and his background
take a look at the “Sid’s Story ” page.