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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tile transformation

I don't usually write about my DIY projects. I've spent most of my life painting, drawing and making things...but this isn't a DIY blog, and I usually leave posts of that nature to others. However, I occasionally toss together something simple with a tie-in to modernism that I think might be of interest to a few readers.

Back in 2011, I read a fascinating post on the Planner, Perimeter, Predictor, Paul McCobb blog about the Distinguished Designer series of tiles by Pomona Tile Manufacturing Company, which included tiles by designers George Nelson, Paul McCobb, Saul Bass, Paul Laszlo, Millard Sheets, Dorothy Liebes and Dong Kingman. These tiles were sold from 1957 through 1963.

I immediately hurried to eBay to see if I could find any for myself and was able to score these two Starspray tiles by Paul McCobb, which then sat in a drawer in my kitchen for two years, waiting for me to do something with them.

Pomona Starspray tiles by Paul McCobb

When my new apartment was finished, I had two small sections of 1" mosaic tile left over from my bathroom, and I hated to throw them away, so I stuck them in a closet, where they've sat for the past two months.

Leftover mosaic tile from my apartment construction

The other day, I decided it was time to put these odds and ends of tile to good use, so I turned them into trivets and refrigerator magnets. Sure, I know...not very exciting. But very much like paper towels, they're something most of us use, even though we generally hide them when we're taking photos of our homes.

I had some self-adhesive round felt pads already. All I needed to buy were some 1/2" neodymium rare earth magnets and some E6000 industrial strength adhesive.

Waxman heavy duty felt pads

Rare earth super magnets

E6000 adhesive

After a few dabs of glue and a few hours' drying time*, I had a great pair of mid-century trivets and a set of simple kitchen magnets that look right at home in a modern kitchen.

DIY trivets
I may eventually have wood frames made for them, but they work nicely for now.

DIY slate kitchen magnets
(The large handmade ceramic magnet depicts the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans.
It is part of a set of three, also including Cafe du Monde and a shotgun house,
that I bought from an artist at the French Market many years ago.)

It was such a simple project that it needs no instructions, but I will warn you that there's a reason the rare earth magnets are called "super magnets." I bought the ones that are 1/2" in diameter and 1/16" thick, and even the ones that small are hard to get apart. The best method is to slide them apart, not pull. And keep a fair amount of distance between them on your table, because they will attract each other and jump all over your work surface if you let them. Their extra-strong magnetism is the reason you will want to use industrial strength adhesive too. Otherwise, when you try to pull them off your refrigerator, the decorative tile will pop right off, leaving a bare magnet on the door.

This was one of those "five minutes, tops" projects that I like so much, because I'm a sucker for instant gratification. Maybe it will give you some ideas for projects using leftover tile from your last remodel.

*After drying for less than 2 hours, the tile stayed on the magnet when I pulled it off metal. However, the product instructions recommend 24-72 hours' drying time for maximum adhesion.

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  1. Simple perhaps, but I love the way they look!

    1. I was pleased with how they turned out. It's always nice to do a quick and easy project and have something that's useful and adds something to the appearance of your home.

  2. No chocolate? ...some shopping list!
    Lucky for you your magnets are a treat!
    Excellent repurposing x

    1. Chocolate is such a given that it doesn't even need to be on the list! :)

    2. Well, some of us are allergic to chocolate. We do once in a while make something chocolate for the rest of the family, but it is still rarely on our grocery list.

    3. I'm allergic to lots of things, but not that. I almost wish I'd develop an allergy to chocolate. It would keep me out of a lot of trouble. :)

  3. The tiles look good. You have decent handwriting too.

    1. Alas, my handwriting is but a shadow of its former self. After almost 30 years of grading essays and scribbling comments in the margins of papers, it's a lot less legible than it used to be.

  4. Cool idea with the magnets Dana!! They came up great.