Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Thinking about Book Making and My Tile Project

Rikki and I made it through the last two days of the photo shoot for my next book. It was a full two days on Thursday and Friday. The days are short now so we started at 8 a.m. By 4 it was dark. That is the tough thing about shooting in December. 

It was bittersweet because I don't know when I will see Rikki again. I'm sure I will but not in a working relationship for a while. I think we have worked together on one major project every year for 4 years between books and magazine articles. It has been so much fun for me to watch her career develop. When I first met her, she was just beginning her photography business. Now she is so busy with lots of clients. She even shoots for the NYTimes Food Section every couple weeks. To me, if you are shooting for the Times, you have a arrived! (BTW, do you know about the NYT Cooking App? Here is the link. You can sign up and they send newsletters twice a week with recipe ideas and you can make your own recipe box. It is genius. Thanks Kay for turning me onto it.) 

Rikki and I have developed such a rapport and have such fun working together creating beautiful photos. Rikki takes the photos that I see in my head - just as I have dreamed them up. (These aren't Rikki's photos - just my iphone photos of the Sunflower Bedroom.)

When I am designing a project, a space or a room, I always think primarily about how the photo will look. It might be an odd way to think but I have been doing it for so long - I think I was born thinking that way. I'm not sure what kind of "brain" it is - maybe someone who is reading knows the thinking style I am describing. I definitely honed that talent (whatever it is called?) when I worked for the yarn company. I can conjure up a mental image of a space, a thing that I am dreaming of making, a party or a scene. Then I work physically to get it done. 

Working from mental images is a lot of what writing a non-fiction creative based book is all about. I dream up the ideas, mull them over in my mind, propose them to an editor and then, if it is something a publisher thinks will fly (or sell - it is all about the possible sales you know), I think about how it will be photographed. I also think about how the projects will fit together in the book. I choose colors and techniques that will be varied, not repetitive (hopefully) and interesting to someone who might buy the book. It is like a giant puzzle.

The Sunflower Bedroom with a brightly colored kilim carpet I added at the last minute
A couple weeks ago, I shared some colorful tiles that I was painting and glazing with you all. This project was a last minute project for the book that I have been actually dreaming about for several years. As I am apt to do, because I thrive on last minute projects, I decided to see if I could get the dream out of my head and into the world. I had to work quick. I called my contractor Kevin and ran it by him. The message I left on his machine went something like this..... "Kevin - do you think you can make my dream come true?" Good thing I know his wife and we are longtime friends- right? 

Kevin came over one weekend, listened to what I wanted and he knew just what to do. He had an easy answer - thank goodness. It wasn't going to be hard for me to do myself if he did the cutting. It is a project someone else could do too. He suggested something called cement board.

In the meantime, I had been painting tiles with underglazes, bisque firing and then re-firing with gloss glazes 30 different ceramic tiles in many colors and patterns.

Kevin arrived the day before the Open House with the piece of cement board. It fit perfectly. 

Last Tuesday, I set to work. I made a quick illustration of how I thought the tiles should look in Illustrator. Here it is.

I laid out the tiles on top of the cement board and then fooled with them until I was happy with the color placement. 

Using acrylic mastic and a trowel, I started gluing down the tiles, spacing them about 1/4" apart. This is only the second time I have tiled something but I have done mosaics out of broken dishes so it was very easy and quick. 

The bottom two tiles were too big. I cut them with this tool that cost about $7 and was effortless to use. 

I turned the heat on in the studio so they would dry and adhere overnight. 

The next day, I portioned out some pre-mixed grout onto a piece of plexiglass. I wanted the grout to be dark - to match the painted patterning and I couldn't get dark grout locally. My solution was to add black acrylic paint to the grout to darken it. It worked. 

I grouted all the tiles. With a damp sponge, I rubbed the grout into the cracks - by using the wet sponge and re-wetting it after rubbing each tile joint, the grout settled in beautifully. 

The next day, I scrubbed the leftover grout off with a green scrubbie. We were set for the photograph. Here is the fireplace surround laying on a carpet. Rikki and I installed it Friday morning using molding Kevin had cut and I had painted black.

I'm not going to share the finished photo here because it will be in the book when it comes out in 2018. If you want a preview - go over to Rikki's Instagram and you can see it there. And then follow her - she takes gorgeous photos. It turned out just as I had pictured in my mind. 

I hope you all have enjoyed this book making journey I have included you in this year. I'm still not done yet - there will be re-writes, copy editing, and illustrations but it is getting there. It is good to have the photography behind me and know what there is going to be left to do. 


Cheryl Korytoski said...

I had to peek!!! Love the fireplace tile!! Can't wait to see your book!

Barb Kehl said...

This was a busy post. Thanks for sharing your pictures. I enjoy your writing style. Keep up the good work!
Barb Kehl

Robin said...

You are amazing! I can't wait to see your new book (even though I know that I will, in fact, be waiting!).

As I keep learning how to draw and paint, I am constantly reminded how left-brained I am. I think in words. Art has been a good way to learn to shift over to the other side of my brain. One time at painting class, my teacher, Kat, was talking in a way that made me realize that she thinks a lot more in shapes, symbols, and pictures. Based upon your post, that sure reminds me of someone else that I know!

Auntie Shan said...

Just ARTISAN/GENIUS Brain... And thinking in 3D.
I usually "imagine" things in vignettes and/or "heads-up-display-pop-up-video"!
Anyhoo, Love THE ROOM! And how those windows are done... And the old Dresser, or is it a small Sideboard..? Whatever, a super piece! Amazing how a GOOD bit of dark wood furniture will go with ANYTHING!
BTW, if that's a GUEST ROOM, I might have to "drop by", *SOME*day!

Sally said...

Gasp!!!! Beautiful tile project!!!!

Julie Davidson said...

I love your tiles!

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