Friday, May 27, 2011

How Tiles Get Made

Here is one of my tiles, picked completely at random from the box, tucked into the elbow of a carpenter's square (a tool that brings up a completely different memory, but I'm trying to stay focused on the tile for now). Virtually every one of my tiles are comically crooked and bent like this, curved and buckled and warped, but that's the charm, right?

My guess is that the tile maker has a square frame on her work desk somewhere in Mexico, and I imagine that she looks out from the back porch onto a vast plantation of coconut palms. It is a perfect square in all regards, but she has a fiery temper and little regard for detail on many days. She slops in a hand-full of wet clay and flattens it out, and then she removes the frame and smooths off the top edges. And then something happens: sometimes she pushes too hard or she drops it on the floor or she throws it at her husband. She is bored with the tile-making, it seems, but it is a living.

Or maybe these are cranked out in a factory. Who knows?

Because each tile is different, I had to cut and place them all into a taped grid on the vanity top, carefully so that the faucet holes and sink opening are OK. The slightest movement of one would introduce chaos. So I un-taped them and set them back one at a time.

And now that it's dry, I'll grout the top today and then install the sink and faucets tomorrow, getting ready for a visit from Cheryl's parents next week. Maybe we'll even put the toilet back into place...

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