Tile folk, are there secret traditions?

enduringOctober 8, 2012

I ask about secret traditions because recently I was online and a beautiful tile mini hex white tile with black inserts was shown. There was a clear error in the black hex pattern; near the shower door I believe. It looked as if it was a signature thing. Or an error of imperfection, intentionally installed, to help us remember that nothing is perfection.

It brought to mind a secret mistake that I saw on my Junior High school floor 45 years ago. The foyer was large, probably 30x30. The tile was pieced white with black design, and sort of like a hounds tooth design, or a quilt. It had pattern at the boarder I think. Anyway off in a corner along the side I noted that the pattern was changed up once, like an error. Just one tile. The tiles were small and mid sized I think. The building was built in the early century.

Now that I saw the mistake in the online photo I am wondering if this was done on purpose.

So I was wondering? Any one know?

I have cut several tiles backwards in my herringbone, duh! And am thinking that I could use one where it would peek out from a built in about 2", showing the back smoothed slate side. No one will notice, and if they do, its a secret;)

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I am not sure if it is tradition, but I bought and installed the 1" white hexagon floor with black hexagons in it from Home Depot and every so often the machine had screwed up the pattern. We nearly went blind before we grouted trying to catch all the mistakes and fix them. I knew it would drive me crazy had we missed any. It has been a year since we laid the floor and I still find myself checking for any more mistakes. Luckily we caught them all---- I think ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Black and white floor

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:09PM
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Finally someone answered :) I was about ready to post claiming that there must be secret traditions - as no one is talking.

Kali, that is an adorable floor! I really like it. It looks like doted swiss, in a large format. And I had to look at the rest of your house pictures. That is some house, and I imagine quite a project. I love a low porch like that with the columns.

Don't quilt makers put in a flaw when they make quilts?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Thanks. Yes, it is quite a project. As you can see from the pics we have exactly one room done and many to go. I posted an introduction to our old house in the old house forum with a little history of it if you are interested I added the link below. That was why those pics were in photobucket. The porch roof and columns is next summers project. This winter is kitchen and master bedroom.

And I am not sure about the quilt makers. I did just make my first quilt last year as a gift for my mom and I also tried very very hard to be sure there were no mistakes. I was so proud there were none. Come to think of it I did stare at it forever too..... wait... maybe I am a little OCD... hmmmm. you may have discovered something about me here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our old house

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Great Kali, I will read about your house tomorrow and I look forward to it. But tonight I'm off to nighty night. Oh, its ok if you are OCD, it's what gave you that wonderful floor.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:03PM
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I used to tell my clients that there was ONE tile I put in where the design changed....as a "Signature." They used to go crazy trying to find it....and never did. I was just BS'ing them.....but it was amusing to see them scrutinize the floor..

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 7:55PM
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Funny :) or ornery!

When I was in Jr. High, I was so impressed with my discovery. I never told anyone. I thought it was amazing that I even saw the switched tiles, in that sea of black and white.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Looks like it's a week old but I didn't see this thread until today.

Several years ago I bough an old commercial building in CT and converted it to retail use and apartments. There were 9 old bathrooms in the building.

Looking through the maintenance records I was able to find the name of and hunt down the man who used to do building maintenance and maintain the steam heating system from the 1940s through the 90s. He came and had a look, gave me ideas on the building's makeup.

Really cool guy to talk to.

Anyhow, sure enough, we were in one of the bathrooms and he looked at the floor and said "Ah, this is Dominic's work." And sure enough, there was a slight pattern variation in the corner. Turned out that six of the bathrooms had Dominic's "signature" and the other three he couldn't remember the guy's name.

Since everything had to be demo'd, I often thought of trying to preserve a bit of the old and incorporate it within the new. But it just seemed impractical to do it, so I let the idea slide.

During demo, I walked around back and saw one of the dumpsters needed to be carted away. Sitting right on top, a roughly 24" by 30" corner chunk of the floor with Dominic's "signature". Perfect! I rescued it and thought I'd incorporate it somehow in the new floor, or set it in a wall.

The maintenance guy and I used to get together for lunch once a month or so. He told me that one of Dominic's son's lived nearby. I got in touch with him and brought him the roughly 24" by 30" chunk of tile and mud, thinking he might want it.

I got a "what the f@&% would I want that for? Toss it in the dumpster."

Oh well. I kept it and eventually reset it in the corner of the floor of the building's main bathroom. A little transition from old to new.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Mongoct, thats what I'm thinking about! Thank you so much. Great story, to bad about Dominics's son :( So glad you and the maintenance guy where able to have a friendship.

Well my floor is just about done. I had the idea that I would use an incorrectly cut piece, placed upside down, so it would fit, as a signature. I had cut it wrong. But now I do have enough tile to cut a correctly angled piece. I figured that if the observed errors in layout were traditionally placed to pay respect to the fact that there is no perfection, then the floor speaks for itself! But now that I hear that you too have seen signatures, I may have to use that one tile upside down. It really does go with my personality.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:17AM
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Not quite the same thing, however...when I built the house we now live in, my (then very young) kids left messages, photos, and "artwork", EVERYWHERE.

What started as a one-time idea, they just kept going and going.

Under cabinets, behind the wainscot, within stud bays, behind medicine cabinets, under the hardwood flooring, underneath tubs. Even pieces of paper rolled up and inserted behind the crown molding.

One of my favorites (because it's still "sort of" accessible) is the upper cabinets in what was their "school room". The school room has a wall of floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets, symmetrical in design. Ten foot ceilings in the room, with a high soffit cabinet (maybe 4' wide by about 20" tall) on each side.

I'd lift the kids over my head and insert them into their respective cabinets. They each got the inside of one soffit cabinet to "decorate". Magic marker designs, pencil, pen, drawings, poems, painted hand prints...it's all there. I then polyurethaned it to preserve it.

Somewhere I have a photo of them up in the soffit boxes during construction, when the cabinets were face-frameless cabinet carcasses, diligently creating their art.

Ah, the good ole days!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:58AM
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Not a tradition or tile but I remember as a kid my dad finishing off two bedrooms in our new house. He was sanding the hardwood floors and tipped the sander over and put a ding in the floor. We always showed it to everyone. It was the oops! Fast forward to my kids. As my oldest was growing up he would mark his height on the back of his bedroom door. He was about 13 when he started.Then when his friends came over they did the same. Now when the grandkids come to visit we do the same with them. I just took a look at it and it makes me smile. Also, when we installed our hot tub over concrete we all wrote our names in it including the dogs.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Great stories Mongo and Denali. Thanks. So very sweet to remember and share about loved ones in these playful ways.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:45AM
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Mongoct, that is great. The house we are in has been in hubby's family for almost a hundred years. As we are gutting and tearing out walls his family has left tons of stuff in the walls over the years. His dad loved to leave the beer cans he was drinking at the time (even switched brands to leave an assortment), while his grandmother left in the kitchen some old wooden spoons. We found old matchbox cars from his older brother when they re-did the laundry room cabinets. My favorite is they did the cement lining of the chimney and my husband's and all his siblings hand prints are inside the "breadwarmers" built in the side with their ages and dates. We have been adding stuff to every wall as we put them up and putting some of the old stuff back in with notes of who put it in the first time and where we found it.

I love your place for them to decorate then polyurethane over it. I may steel your idea. I have the perfect spot upstairs. By the time we reach that point in the renovation, my now 2 and 3 year old will be at the perfect age of artistic ability.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:50AM
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"Don't quilt makers put in a flaw when they make quilts?"

I don't know about the newer generation of quilters, but I was told this is a tradition with older quilters. It is called a 'humility block', to remind us that no human is perfect.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 10:16PM
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Thanks Cavimum for the info. I like that phrase, "humility block".

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:43AM
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We just had black and white hexagon installed in our new bathroom, and because of a tile mix-up, the installers had to hand set the black hex tiles in. This meant that they really aren't perfectly placed in a lot of instances. I had to let it go and imagine it as part of the charm of a vintage looking bathroom. And my aunt reminded me of Quaker quilting - that they put a mistake in, because only God makes perfect things.

We have a refinished tub upstairs. I was upset once when my toddler son slipped, fell, and hit his mouth on the tub. His two front teeth created two little circular nicks in the finish. Now whenever I clean and see it, it reminds me of that time. I imagine it will continue to be a sweet memory of the bathtub days.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 4:42PM
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Janieful, thanks for the quilting story. The memory of bathtub days are so sweet. That is why I am replacing an old cast iron tub with a new one - my 21 y.o. DS lamented about the initial plans I had to replace the tub with a W/D set. I appeased him and am thinking ahead for the next generation of toddler baths, maybe his toddlers :)

I hope your floor is a pleasure. It sounds nice, even with a few imperfectly placed tiles.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Great stories. We don't have a tile story, but our wood floor story kinda fits.

We are DIY people and we put down the hardware floor in our great room. It was 2 1/4 inches wide and came in 1 to 4 foot lengths. Needless to say it took a while to lay it down.

We noticed that one of the pieces of wood had a mark stamped in it...but it wasn't until we had laid 3 or 4 rows past the piece with the mark. There was no way in h*ll we were going to rip up all that work, so it is now the "easter egg" in our floor. Luckily it is virtually impossible to see...last time we looked for it we had to get down on our hands and knees to search for it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 4:53PM
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So, it's sort of like an "Easter Egg Hunt" to find it :) The kids will love it!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:05PM
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