Thursday, February 28, 2013

Always something to learn

Back in September I received a phone call from a tin ceiling manufacturer that has been in business for over 100 years, since 1896.  Most of the time when I get new phone calls about leads, it usually takes awhile for it to work out, and sometimes doesn't pan out. Thankfully this one did.  The owner of the company asked if I would be interested in painting tin ceiling tiles that they make for their client Abercrombie & Fitch.  At the time I was busy on another job, so I told him we would have to meet when I was finished.  Two weeks later, I was able to stop in. By that time I figured he had already found someone else, but he wanted to meet.

The Abercrombie & Fitch tiles are actually for their store Hollister. I have never been in a Hollister before and the tile that they painted are very dark red with a black glaze over it. It's so dark that when you hold it above your head it looks black. I ended up doing a sample for them and they were happy with it. All that had to occur now was the fire testings in Japan to be done and passed.  They told me if they do get the order, there would be about 900 tiles 2 ft by 2 ft to paint. How in the world was I going to handle that, store it, and paint it? What was I getting myself into?

In December I brought them tiles that I painted in colors and finishes that I thought would be marketable to the public.  I did a about 12 different finishes, and I could envision each one in their one special place. A very unusual one I did was Harvest Gold Reactive Paint, sold by Modern Masters with a Black and Blue Patina.  This one was actually a huge hit and about a month ago we got our first order from a high end restaurant in Sweden. At the very same time, Japan approved the Hollister sample and an order was also placed. Panick set in. For about 4 months I envisioned how we could set up drying racks and here it is. Now. Build them now.

Our first plan was 2 by 4's with screws projecting from the sides at marked intervals so the tile can slide across and into and rest on the shelves. After building the first one we discovered if you were to slide it in, chances are it would hit the one below it scratching it.  So then I decided to use wire and make an x from screw to screw and that would act as a barrier. Actually first I tried yarn, and these tiles are razor sharp it would just shred it in seconds.

I spent all weekend before the big day setting up these wire shelves. It was not easy, my fingers were aching. I missed the Grammy's, the boys had to be watched by my parents so I could string these wires.
The next day was test time. We had 220 tiles to paint for Hollister first (Sweden would have to wait) and thankfully so.

Monday was the first day, and the beginning of our many issues, mistakes and adjustments would need to be made. The wire shelves just weren't going to cut it. They sagged, the tiles still scratched and scraped. I panicked. My husband looked into getting foam core board at Home Depot. I called the tin ceiling company, and yahoo! They have plenty of cardboard that I can cut in half, and use as my shelves. The tile will just slide in. And it was more then half the cost of Home depot. Bye bye wire. What a waste of time that was.

My dismantled wire. Reminds me of an art project in college.

This is what my new shelves looked like. It worked like a charm, the tiles slid in. You just had to be careful not to bump the cardboard above as you angle it in.

The Hollister tiles would have taken less time had we not had to stop and re-configure the shelving.

Here is a picture of the Hollister tile. Next time you are near a store, stop in and look up. They look black don't they? Well, some artist was paid to paint them first, and thankfully so! Keeps us busy!

Check back soon, I will post about the Sweden Tiles!


  1. Hello! I love your work! I am going to paint my kitchen cabinets with Annie Sloan Chalk paint and originally I thought I will use the wax to finish and protect it but after painting my bathroom vanity few months ago and doing that, I noticed over time there are stains showing on the cabinet from toothpaste or lotion that wasn't wiped immediately...I noticed you are using poly or varnish instead of wax? Would you please tell me what kind/name/brand anything helpful should I buy? something that would protect my cabinets and look good on ASCP. Thank you so much for any help you can give me!! Ania

  2. Do you know the name of the tiles? Or how to get a hold of them?