Friday, September 16, 2011

Black & White, and Red


Obtaining a selection of colors in tiles is more complicated than building a fabric collection. I occasionally stop by the building supply stores where tiles are sold to see what they’ve got, but one of the hardest colors to find is red. How many people want a red tile wall, after all? Even the idea is overpowering. So red is scarce…I began to get desperate. Something that can’t be possessed becomes extremely desireable…
Then one of the merchants mentioned a company that might have what I sought. So I checked their website and headed over to their showroom on the other side of Tunis. There I found lovely, but expensive, tiles—generally three times the price of normal tiles. The price reflects the amount of hand work required to achieve such fine quality. And yes, they had red tiles.
When the saleswoman showed them to me, along with other wonderful colors, she eyed me as if I was going to start frothing at the mouth because I couldn’t hide my excitement. With some trepidation she asked what I was going to do with the tiles. “Oh, I’m going to break them.” She visibly winced and groaned. I tried to reassure her: “Don’t worry, I’ll use every little bit.” That didn’t help, so I explained about my mosaic plant containers. She became more pleasant and offered to sell me a square meter of a mix of colors. This was definitely close to paradise.
So I went home, sanded down the back ridges, and began breaking the tiles with my “nippers” (I still find that to be the strangest word—it tickles my funny bone) in an effort to get small, somewhat even pieces. My first pot (and one of my favorites) in the black, white, and red series:
One 30-year old pot required cementing to repair the disintegrating rim. 
The Before or rather the right-after-I-began-gluing photo:
And the After:

Then I saw several examples of mosaicked balls or “orbs” on the internet. Lightbulb! So I gathered the necessary forms. The dogs had four shrunken soccer balls, so I left them with one. They don’t seem to have noticed. One day, while grocery shopping I found Christmas tree ornaments on sale so I bought a dozen balls in two different sizes. Synchronocity at its best: I have never seen Christmas tree ornaments for sale at my grocery store, much less on sale! And meditating on how to display the soccer ball mosaic, I came upon the idea of the tuna fish can. The Before:
The family portrait:


Spirals on the rounded surface are among my favorite design elements. Some crossover has been showing up lately on textile surfaces. A work-in-progress using needle-turn appliqué and running stitch, to be cut up for a larger piece: 
For me, the spiral represents a contradiction: it provides movement and yet it turns in upon itself and comes to a dead-end. Related to the circle, it lacks the symbolism of protection and eternity because it does not close. Consequently, in my personal visual vocabulary, the ambiguity of the spiral makes it a design element that adds interest by creating tension.

And, if you should be interested in home décor and interior design, check out the Dorémail tile company’s site here. Just click on the British flag to view in English. It’s well worth the visit, especially to the "traditional" category.

23 comments:

Peggi said...

I love your mosaics! I know exactly what you mean about red being hard to find. When we bought our house, the kitchen had mustard yellow rectangular tiles - ugly! We cheered it up with fire-engine red tile countertops and backsplash, black trim tiles, and white accent tiles.

Now I'm thinking I might have a use for the extra tiles we had left over.... :)

CREATIVE MIND said...

Its just AMAZING..i really love the black,white n red CONTRAST :)
super cute creation..love it!!!

Sarah said...

Oh I love your mosaics! So you can pretty much mosaic anything? I have a couple of bags of mosaic tiles that I've yet to decide what to put them on....
I LOVE your black, white, red theme. So classy :-)

Michele said...

The pots look beautiful!!! I wouldn't have thought about not being able to find red, but I can see what you mean. I guess a red tile wall might be pretty overwhelming!

fiberchick said...

These are just fantastic... Love the hit of red!

ACreativeDreamer said...

Oh my goodness, they are breathtaking! I love the design, and am just in awe of how you could "nip" the tiles into such tiny and even pieces... just wonderful!

Connie Rose said...

These new pieces are fantastic, especially the orbs!

If you think of the other end of the spiral, it is always reaching up to heaven and opening wider.

Have a great weekend!

Suspinz: Dabbler in Many Things said...

Hi, Nadia -- I always think of spirals as unfurling, like ferns, or sea snails growing. Interesting to think of them going inward. Love your pots...rather inspiring!

handstories said...

your mosaic creations are great!
your cloth is interesting and full of strong shapes, very cool, also love spirals- i like the endlessness of them, circling in to the heart of things, or growing/moving out.

Nifty Quilts said...

I think you are a genius with the mosaics! I can't imagine designing on a circular surface. They do make a great "family!" Your applique is wonderful too. Will look forward to seeing what else you do with it.

American Homestead said...

The addition of red really makes the pieces come alive.
I love the orbs, they remind me of balls of yarn. Nice work.
Ellen

quilteuseforever said...

Great pictures of amazing mosaics ! I love your themes : colors and forms are our major inspirations. I am longing for more details about your new appliqué !
Katell

Deborah Weir said...

I love how all your work in various mediums hang together. You have a real voice!

Linda A. Miller said...

Fabulous mosaics and quilts..very dynamic! Loved the splattered garden pots, what a great idea to dress up dull plastic.

landofdreaming said...

The mosaics are just beautiful and the quilt is glorious - lovely to see your work and thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting, much appreciate :)
Jill

Dawn Browning said...

Your mosaics and quilting are wonderful! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. I will be back to see your lovely work often.

JennyPennyPoppy said...

Your vase & mosaiked balls & tuna can look great. Very nice design & colours. I'm a blues person myself & could easily see these in shades of blue & white.

Sandy said...

Wonderful mosaics. I love to work in spirals too. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

aracne said...

Your work is stunning, I love your mosaics full of colour and life.
I love your interpretation of the spiral, I never considered the tension that it transmits, it is a very powerful image.

stitchinglife.com said...

Just wanted to say thanks for stopping by yesterday, Nadia. I've really enjoyed my return visit - it seems to me that tile mosaic is patchwork in another form. I love your needle-turned applique work too.

norma said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It brought me back to yours again. Always such a treat. I love what you're doing with the mosaics....black and white and RED, what a perfect combination. As for spirals, I like to use them in my free-motion quilting, but I spiral in and then spiral right back out to start a new one.

Rebecca said...

wonderful mosaic work, Nadia! I kept thinking how an exhibit of the pots and your fiber work would look so nice together.

Angela Recada said...

Your mosaics are gorgeous. The black/white/red combination and spirals of any kind are among my very favorite things, as well.

I am so fascinated by your descriptions of your life in Tunisia, and really appreciate when you add these little details to your posts. It is just so much more exotic than Wisconsin! :0)