Functional Art

July 5, 2020

In December of 2018, I sent Donna Lemongello this email. I’d been working with her on some custom tiles for our grandnieces and nephew — because their names SO lend themselves to beautiful tile designs (photos way below).

Project #2: At some point after the first of the year, designing a tile top to a coffee table base that Jim agreed would be fun to build. His new workshop won’t be ready until early spring, so it wouldn’t happen before that.  I’m attaching a couple photos of living room to give you a sense of the colors. Note, especially, the rug… that has all kinds of leaves and flowers and such… not that it’s necessary to repeat those themes (since I love your geometrical abstract-y designs). 

And in January of 2019, we got to work on the tile design.. which went first through a concept stage …..



Then a few iterations……


Screen Shot 2020-07-05 at 4.38.11 PM

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…. before we hit upon the final version (which itself had multiple backs and forths).  Then Donna made and fired the tiles, finishing up in April and I paid the balance. She brought them over so we could see how they looked in the room,  but the room was chaotic because of the remodel, so she took them back to her workshop until September.

In September, she delivered the tiles in, basically, a shoe box, which we reassembled on a plank of wood, and there they sat, in the laundry room, for the next nine months. They remained intact, I have to boast, as scary as it was having hundreds of dollars worth of highly breakable tiles underfoot (well, on a table under a bunch of recipe files).

Anyway.. for the last few weeks, Jim’s been working on the table.. first settling on the dimensions, then designing and building the base, routing out the grooves and spaces for the tiles, sampling a variety of finishes, mortaring, then inlaying, then grouting between the tiles.. and voila! Fini! He might describe a few more steps, none was easy!

But it is truly beautiful. A work of art. I love it.







Here’s Donna’s handiwork on the tiles for River, Magnolia and Juniper (8×8″). Jim built a frame for those and we gave them to Alexis and John for Christmas last year:


And.. I may as well post a photo of the bathroom tiles she did for us.. because those are beautiful, too!




And there ya go. Some functional art.







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