“The sand is then used to make the tiles in a very complex process,” said Lesia Matlali, one of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub scientists working on the development of these amazing products fully funded by Lesotho Funeral Services (LFS).
Sit and listen to the story of the amazing tiles.
You are probably used to ceramic tiles, aren’t you? In Lesotho those tiles are popularly known as “liseramiki.” Many people don’t know what “liseramiki” are made of. Actually, they are made of clay. Ya! Highly refined clay is cooked in temperatures that can total 1200 °C. Now that temperature is out of this world but that’s how you get your “liseramiki.” If it feels hot when temperatures are at 33 °C here in Lesotho, you ain’t know nothing yet. Ceramics are made in temperatures that are 36 times hotter!
So when these guys decided to make tiles, they had a choice.
They could either pursue the making of ceramics; or they could make stone tiles. The problem in such cases, is not the abundance of raw materials. As you already know, we have both a plenty of clay and a plenty of stones in Lesotho. In fact, there is so much high quality clay in Mafeteng, a ceramic firm once existed there.
“But we chose stone,” Matlali said.
That is because Matlali and Co did not want to spend so much energy cooking clay to temperatures that are so high. “You don’t get to 1200 °C by chance,” Lesia said. “You have to burn a lot of oil or coal to do it.”
But that’s not the only problem. Of course burning oil is not only expensive, the burning process will release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to ensure that even the entire earth is burning itself to its death.
The main problem is that ceramics are becoming dead boring! Of course the ceramic world has done its best to be “innovative,” coming up with such interesting tiles like the ever shining, scratch-resistant porcelain.
“But the fact remains,” Lesia said, “ceramics in general will bore you to death!”
And there is no alternative. When you visit hardware, it’s ceramics, more ceramics, always ceramics.
“That’s where we are going to chip in and disrupt the tiling industry,” he threatened. Some in the market are beginning to learn not to take such threats for granted anymore.
So how are the tiles developed?