“Touch Me in the Morning”
Friday was a woodworker’s day. I’m in the final stages of an outrageously detailed home theater, and the TV surround calls for a frame round the TV itself. Most of it’s ready for a final sanding, but the frame is a two-piece affair, and Friday I was fitting the inner frame to the outer frame. It’s not a difficult thing to do, just something that’s a bit fussy. You measure the piece, trim it on the chop saw, then trim it again, sneaking up on the final cut, woodworkers call it. Normal people would surely think such a thing tedious, but we woodworkers like that sort of precision, and when that’s the last task for the day, it’s just perfect. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as going to sleep knowing you’ve spent the day fitting something to a fare-thee-well.
Midway through the afternoon, the FedEx truck stopped in front of my house, which surprised me because I’d already received the latest purchases of hardware and such for the current project. When I saw that distinctive writing on the package itself, I knew at once that it was from my favorite publicist, JoAnn Locktov. She’s not a person who does things by halves, and this latest was no exception to that rule. There was a velvet pouch inside the package, and inside the pouch was a sample of pretty much the slickest tile I believe I’ve ever encountered.
Those who read these blogs with any frequency surely know of my long love affair with tile. Last time out on that subject, I wrote pretty much a paean to the latest from New Ravenna, their Sea Glass™ collection (“For a Room of One’s Own”), but it was a love affair from afar, as it were. All I had to go on was the pictures of the tile itself, but knowing the company, having written about several other offerings from them, seeing the pictures, the styling, the flair with which all of this was done, well I was in tile love again. Had you asked me then if I’d write about that particular tile again, the answer would have been no because pretty much everything I have goes into the first blog on a particular subject. Over the years I’ve encountered a few companies that have become old friends, as it were, and I find myself revisiting them from time to time to write about their latest concepts, but never two on the same product. Until now.
JoAnn and I are tile buddies. She’s written more on the subject than I have, but it is very much a shared passion. Although JoAnn is, as I said, more active in the field than I am, I do find myself seeking out the unusual in tile, extra emphasis on concepts done well. Between her clients and my interests, it’s becoming a good friendship. Several of her clients are tile artists, and she’s written several books on mosaics, so the sample she sent me was just a handshake via FedEx, as it were. She was pleased with my latest blog on New Ravenna and thought I’d enjoy a small sample of the product I’d written about.
If I had not received that sample on the afternoon of a woodworker’s day, I’m not sure I would have written this blog, but the moment I ran my hands over that sensuous finish, my mind began racing. I’m proud of my woodworking, but I never brag about it because I know entirely too many people out there who make me look like a boy scout. With me perfection is always the goal, but I have to say that with the larger projects it’s always been rather elusive. There is always some detail or other that should have been done better than it was, but I must say I have sometimes achieved wonderful results with my picture framing. There are times when the mats are a perfect complement to the subject matter, and always, always the frames are solid wood (Honduras Mahogany or Black Walnut) that receive a hand-rubbed oil finish. It’s this last that raced through my mind when I first touched that Sea Glass™ tile sample.
Over the years I’ve used a number of finishes for my projects, but my favorite is a hand-rubbed oil finish. It’s a method of applying several coats of tung oil and actually sanding it into the wood with increasingly finer grits of sandpaper. The end result is about as glorious a finish as anyone can put on wood. It is incredibly smooth and just damned near “soft!”
I have framed a number of items for my wife’s office over the years, and for all of them the final step was a hand-rubbed oil finish. She tells me that almost always when people see them for the first time, they reach out and touch the frames. It’s a finish that seems to just beg for that kind of interaction. Tung oil and that particular method of applying it do glorious things to wood, both because of the soft glow it imparts and because a hand-rubbed finish is always a labor of love—for the wood and the craft and all those who came before.
Examining this little tile sample on Friday, turning it over and over in my hands, feeling the finish on it, very much reminded me of a hand-rubbed oil finish and for many of the same reasons. It’s a sensuous finish, but more than that it’s a labor of love. How often do any of us get to have something like that in our homes?
Glass tile is cold; glass tile is hard. New Ravenna’s Sea Glass™ tile is warm to the touch and soft. Not soft like a marshmallow, but soft like a baby’s cheek, soft like a mother’s kiss, soft like a summer breeze. More than that it’s a sensuous soft, a soft that begs to be touched.
When I first saw pictures of New Ravenna’s Sea Glass™ collection I thought Sara Baldwin might well have created her best tile yet, but now that I’ve actually held a sample in my hands I know she has. Tile can be used in any room in the house—and often is—but the most common uses of it are kitchens and bathrooms. Regardless of how hectic one’s life may be, we’re in those rooms every day of our lives. What could be more comforting than the gentle touch of this most luxurious product every day of one’s life? But it doesn’t have to be only in the morning!
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