Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tile Time

Well, the plaster work in the parlors is nothing more than an unpleasant memory. I made a dump run today to get rid of the last vestiges of the job. I'm sorry my intern missed out on that because the dump really is lovely this time of year. Yes, the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the aroma of the dump really reminds one why exactly we are put on this earth in the first place. {sigh!}

Anyway, the next chore is going to be the fireplace. The goal is not to get this to be a working fireplace, but rather make it look presentable.

Above is the dining room fireplace just after the tile was set. The mantel and green surround tile are original, and the cast iron cover and hearth tile are not. This is the goal for the fireplace in the parlor.

Here is what I'm starting with. I need to grind out the remaining bits of original hearth tile and remove what is left of the cast iron part of the surround. The ultimate goal, of course, is to do no harm. That means, don't damage the mantel or the original tile surround. When I did this in the dining room I almost had a heart attack when one of the surround tiles nearly plunged to its shattered death when I removed the cast iron part. Try replacing one of those!

I start by making a cardboard template for the tile. I'm working with mostly antique, salvage tile, so I need to play around with the design. It's not like I can run down to the home center to buy more if I run short. I must have the pattern set before I start anything. Much of the tile is similar to what I used in the dining room, but unfortunately, I don't have enough to exactly replicate what is in there.

I have 3 of these

Two of these

I have 4 of these. These were not used in the dining room at all.

The rest of the tile is mostly vintage and will be used to fill in around the main tiles in the first two photos. The problem is, I don't have enough.

This is one design, which comes up short. There is a 1 to 2 inch gap at the top.

This design utilizes some of the fleur-de-lys tiles. The 3 tiles at the top would be sliced in half lengthwise to fill the gap. I don't really like this.

This design would work if I had 8-feet of 1X6 boarder tile. This is the best solution except for one small detail: I don't have 8-feet of 1X6 boarder tile. I'm shopping, though. What I want to avoid is running down to the home center and buying 8-feet of off-the-shell 1X6 boarder tile. I think modern boarder tile would stick out like a sore thumb along side the other tile. So I'm shopping. What would be perfect is a period majolica tile in a blue or green shade, with an incised design of some sort.

This is the “new” cast iron cover which will go on.

Earlier today much of it looked like this. Some stove black and elbow grease took care of that.

Edit: I just bought 9.3 feet of dimpled, mottled green, 1X4 majolica boarder tile from a salvage place in Chicago.


priscilla said...

Can't wait!

Greg said...

That makes two of us!

Karen Anne said...

It''s been awhile, but I used to wile away hours looking at majolica tiles on ebay. I assume there are still many there.

mickmaguire said...

Its gonna look great!

Is it going to be a non functional restoration because of the chimney issues? It'd look fantastic with a gas flame insert. :)

Greg said...

I think it would depend on the gas insert that was put in. I wrote some blog entries a few years back about the reproduction "coal grate" gas inserts which are made for the small firebox of these old coal burning fireplaces. In the end I decided against it mainly because after purchasing the coal basket and lining the chimney with a class b liner up two floors and out through the roof you are into it for about $3,000 for something that is little more then eye-candy. They are so small they don't throw off that much heat. Anything bigger would be very modern and a bit of an eye-sore, in my opinion.

Most importantly though, is the fact that anything I put in would make it impossible to use the fancy "summer over" shown in the photo of this post. No, the chimneys will need to wait for another decade and most likely another owner.

Greg said...


Yea, eBay is where I bought all of the tile you see in the photos. I was there this weekend but couldn't find anything in volume. I need 16 matching pieces of 1X6 tile. There was one auction of really nice tile and they listed that there was "more than 10 available". They wanted $12 a piece! I emailed them to ask how many they had and was prepared to haggle, but then I found the lot of 28 pieces at the salvage yard in Chicago at a much better price. Sold!