I met and hired a man who is a Georgia Tech educated engineer and he now lays tile. He did three bathrooms for me, and he was an artist in the technique. To increase his speed, as artists can be slow, I helped him lay the tile in my studio bathroom. He taught me how to use the wet saw and how to measure taking the grout space into consideration. For these bathrooms, I designed “tile rugs” for him to install because we were using remnants of tile, and did not have enough for the entire square footage. This is my way of working, whether with tile or in textiles: use what you have, and don’t pay for anything if you can help it. A tile rug takes up some space when you don’t have enough of the same kind for the whole room.
The first time we did this, he was working in my master bathroom, while I was working away downstairs in my studio. It sounded like he was rolling dice upstairs to me, and he was! I gave him an oval space in which he was to scatter bits of colored tiles within a different ground color. His engineer-head response to that problem was to decide as to where to put the colored tiles by chance. The roll of the dice determined his choice. And of course, an artist would use her eyes and her gut feelings determine the positions.
This is the great room in our old farmhouse, moved to this site in 2004. I had 500 square feet of the same tile, but it was not enough for the kitchen, which is on the other side of the free standing fireplace,(you can see just a bit of the brick hearth at the left of this picture) and this room. The kitchen has an imbedded tile rug too, as does the entry to the left of this room, where there are french doors.
I used 12″ x 12″ black tiles, and used white to gray in several steps for the opposite positions. My textile work uses this same phenomenon. It makes the area move, and not be static. When you do this with color, it makes the color richer.
The tile rug below was finished in 2011. It uses the same color/value movement expressed in such an elementary way in the first picture. I have learned. And the result is a composition with moving color areas.