Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry, Merry & Happy, Happy

Dundee has worked hard this year.  Chasing tennis balls and getting treats from the FedEx driver has just worn him out.  He needs a break. 

So to give him time to rest up, we will be closed for a week over the holidays - December 24th through January 2nd.

As we look back over the past year, we are so grateful to have had such a dedicated and hard-working team of people to work with every day.  We look forward to an even better new year!

All of us at StoneImpressions wish you every happiness this Holiday Season and prosperity in the New Year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving with some fun, handmade products from Etsy

You might be familiar with, an online marketplace for handmade goods.  If you haven't heard of it, do yourself a favor and go take a look.  You will be amazed by the amount of creative talent and the extraordinary number of items available for sale.  A search for the word "Thanksgiving" results in over 28,000 entries.  There is a huge range of styles - from simple, crafty handmade dolls or puppets to striking original paintings and sculptures.  Beautiful handmade jewelry too.

If you ever find yourself getting depressed about things, like the lack of art classes in our schools or the bland, over-commercialized consumer culture that we live in, spend a few minutes browsing around Etsy.  You will be reassured that a place still exists where creativity and artisitic expression is flourishing. 

Below are some of the Thanksgiving themed items for sale that we thought were the most fun and interesting.  (Don't miss the Orchid Gourd.  It is awesome!)

by Curious Portraits

moses, thanksgiving or christmas monster sculpture
by dancesippydance
bartholomew, thanksgiving or christmas monster sculpture
by dancesippydance

original art drawing aceo art card Thanksgiving ugly turkey
by artistsuetaylor

Orchid Gourd Pyrography Wood Burned Gourd
by NessysNest
Wow, that gourd is just stunning.  Check out more lovely items at Nessy's Nest store.

retro ORANGE and BLACK full apron
by loverdoversclothing

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  Wishing you safe travels,
full bellies and warm memories.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sage Green Inspiration from KraftMaid Cabinets

We have been seeing a bit of a renaissance for our Minore Collection lately. Inquiries and purchases are definitely up in the last few months. Below are some photos of the Minore Pattern tiles in the Charcoal-Green color, paired up with some beautiful KraftMaid cabinets.  LOVE the sage green color of the cabinets.

And take a look at KraftMaid's website if you have a chance -  Beautifully designed and easy to navigate, it is full of inspiring photos and lots of great information.  They are currently offering a Define Your Style Contest.  You get to play around with colors, styles, finishes and accessories and build your own digital Inspiration Board.  Lots of fun to do.  

And if the joy of creating isn't its own reward, you also have the chance to win $50,000 towards your dream kitchen!  Wouldn't that be great?  So stop wasting time on Facebook and Twitter (and reading silly blogs like this) and get on over there to release some of that creative energy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Natural Stone Tile Basics - Part 4 - It's All About Us, Baby!

Over the past month or so, we have been doing a series on the basics of natural stone tiles.  (See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.) All of the information that we have provided has been rather general and can apply to many different types of natural stone tiles. But today, we are going to let loose our inner narcissist and prattle on and on about ourselves - specifically, about the stone types that we use to create our tiles.

We use four basic stone types when we produce our tiles.  However, that does not mean those are the only types we can use.  Our patented process can be utilized to print on just about any stone that has a porous surface.  As long as it is not polished or sealed in any way, we can use it.  What this means is that if you have already decided on using a certain stone type in the rest of your space, you can send us some of your tile and we can put our designs on them.  It is a really great option to have if you have put in your time and slogged through the jungle of natural stone tile options to make your choice.  You don't have to start all over again trying to choose which of our tiles will work with the tile you have already chosen!

But enough about you, daaarling.  Let's get on to the important topic of our wonderful stone types. And what better way to capture the essence of self-involvement than to associate ourselves with some well known celebrities?

~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~

It's all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back. - Mick Jagger

He has done some hard living and you can see it in his face.  It is rugged and worn, but a spark of vitality shines through.  Ageless.  Timeless.  You look at that rough exterior and know there is a deep current of  strength underneath.  He certainly looks like he has been around the block a few times and that is what we love about him.  We want a connection to the past - that reminder of ancient times and places to keep us grounded.

Our Light Travertine tiles are the most rustic and aged looking that we carry.  The tiles are unfilled, which means that all of the naturally occurring pits, holes and fissures will be visible.  Light and dark areas and random veining of the stone give it true character and interest.

 ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~

I'm certainly the last person to give advice on, well, anything. - George Clooney

Oh, he certainly is a handsome fellow!  But he is no pampered Pretty Boy.  There is some roughness and character etched into that face of his.  He takes care of himself, of course. (Some fill here and there never hurt anyone.)  But the overall smoothness is only made more distinctive by lines and imperfections that create real character and depth.  He is comfortable and confident no matter where he is.  Easy and relaxed in casual spaces or dress him up for your fancier environments.  Any way you look at it, he is one fine specimen.

Our Durango tiles have tumbled edges and warm, subtle, earthy coloring.  This stone type is filled and has a mostly smooth surface; you will find a few holes or pits. There is some movement in these tiles with natural color variation and dark and light areas.  Durango is a great example of how versatile stone can be - it works well with just about any design that calls for natural stone tiles.

 ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~

If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful. - Sophia Loren

A classic beauty with that luminous glow and skin like fine porcelain.   Soft curves do not make her a shrinking violet.  Feminine beauty is paired with power and personality.  There is history here, but it is the story of a life lived with fullness and passion.  Clearly a woman of substance who will only get better with age.

Our Bianco tiles have a completely smooth surface and a light, creamy color.  The edges are lightly tumbled to give the tiles a touch of softness.  The color and texture are very consistent with minimal variations from tile to tile.  It has a simple beauty and is a perfect canvas to show off our decorative artwork.

~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
and redeemed;  never throw out anyone
. - Audrey Hepburn

She is a stunning beauty and full of charm.  Her face captivates and inspires.  Delicate and powerful at the same time, with an unmistakable contemporary flair.  Clean lines are the finishing touch to her elegant style.  Her appeal is universal and her extraordinary natural grace makes her simply unforgettable.

Our Limestone tiles are bright, clean and smooth.  The micro-bevel edges give them a decidedly modern look for those projects that call for clean lines.  The natural coloring of the limestone adds a bit more interest to your design than soulless, white ceramic tile would.

~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~  ---------  ~ ~ ~

There you have it.  A celebration of our four stone options in all of their raw beauty.  Can't get enough of us?  Dying to see more?  Of course you are, daaarling.   Why don't we wrap up this little foray into the depths of narcissistic, self-worship by showing off some of our glamorous, Red-Carpet-Worthy designs.  Take a good look at our stone tiles dressed up in their finest.  Enjoy!

Altalena Pattern in Ochre color on Light Travertine

Metal Amore Scroll Listellos on Light Travertine

Cortina Collection shown on Durango

Cute Country Garden Accents on Bianco.

Metal Amore Scroll Accents on Durango

Section of the Red Branch Mural on Limestone

(And don't worry.  Next time, we'll be back to our old non-pretentious selves.  We've probably just used up our Snootiness Quota for the rest of the year.  But we certainly had fun doing it!)

Click below for other posts in this series:
Stone Tile Basics Part 4 - It's all about us, baby! - YOU ARE HERE

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stone Tile Basics - Part 3 - Embracing Imperfection

In two of our previous posts (here and here), we talked about sizing and measuring for tile and also went over some of the basic terms used to describe natural stone tile.  In this one, we want to help you understand and appreciate the natural irregularities and imperfections that are found in natural stone products.

Allobates granti

Ranitomeya benedicta

Ranitomeya summersi

These amazing creatures are a few of the amphibian species recently identified in the Amazon according to the World Wildlife Fund.  They are perfect examples of the gorgeous imperfections found in nature.  Their stripes are not symmetric; their spots are not perfectly round or equally spaced; and the guy in the top picture could certainly use some snazzier pants to go with that top.  But there is undeniable beauty in in each one.

Natural stone is a product of nature.  It will often have variations in color, texture, edges, corners, pits, striations and veining.  There can be differences from one tile to another, even if you are buying the same type of stone from the very same batch.  In the natural world, perfection is an illusion.  The irregularities and variations found in a stone tile can be a big part of what makes it so beautiful.  

Know Thyself

When thinking about natural stone, a good maxim to follow is "Know Thyself."  If you have OCD tendencies and you know that seeing darker and lighter tiles sitting right there next to each other on the wall will start you twitching and foaming at the mouth; or the sight of the rounded edges on the tumbled tiles not lining up perfectly freaks you out, you might want to walk (or RUN!) out of the natural stone tile section and head over to the ceramic tile where things are a little more orderly.  Just take a deep breath and let the calming force of the white ceramic tile wash over you.  Look at all those straight lines and perfectly square corners.  Ahhhh....that's better.

Photo of  Subway Tile from Arizona Tile

Nothing to Fear

Please don't misunderstand.  The paragraph above is not meant to scare you away from natural stone tiles.  Those of us who prefer a little order and symmetry in our lives can still enjoy the beauty in natural stone tile because there is, of course, variation in the variation.  Certain types of natural stone do have a very uniform and consistent appearance, while others can have a great deal of variation in the coloring and natural veining running throughout the stone.  And there is an endless range of options in between those two extremes.  Some examples below:

Example of a limestone tile

This stone has a very consistent color and almost no movement or texture differences.  One tile looks just about the same as all the other tiles.  It is indeed, a natural stone tile.  This limestone can come with straight, non-tumbled edges, so it can practically mimic the look of ceramic tile.

~ ~ ~

The following stone pictures are from a great stone supplier,  World Wide Stone Corporation.

Durango Ancient Veracruz from World Wide Stone
This stone type has some movement, but it is very consistent in color and "visual texture" from one piece to another.  There are lighter and darker areas on all pieces, but the variations are spread throughout, in way that gives a relatively uniform appearance.
~ ~ ~

Durango Ancient Sol from World Wide Stone
This stone could also be described as having a lot of movement, however, the variations are mostly in texture.  The color only varies because it has both dark and light shades.  But the overall color itself is consistent throughout.  It does have natural striations that vary from tile to tile.  That middle tile in the bottom row seems to be almost all one color.  The tile in the top left corner has numerous stripes of color.

~ ~ ~

Durango Ancient Dorado from World Wide Stone

You would say that this stone has a lot of movement.  It has a great deal variation in both colors and textures.  Its color is predominantly a warm gold, but you also see places of dark brown, orange, lighter grays and even some spots of black.   The texture varies greatly between tiles.  The tiles in the bottom row do not have many striations or color differences.  But the tiles in the top left corner have a great deal of variations and color difference.

~ ~ ~

Durango Red Onyx from World Wide Stone
This stone type is clearly the wild child of the bunch.  It is bursting with movement, visual texture and color differences.  You definitely could use this tile to add an LSD-inspired splash to an otherwise staid room decor.
~ ~ ~

These are only a few examples of the different natural stone tiles you can find, but it gives you a little taste of the variety available.  A good tip is to look at more than one piece of stone tile from the same batch when you are trying to determine which stone type that you like.  Four to six tiles of the same stone will give you a good idea of how much variation you might find in that particular type of stone.  But don't get carried away with this.  If you find yourself asking the tile person to bring out the crate of stone so you can pick through it, piece by piece; or if you want them to promise you that all of the tile that you receive in your order will look exactly like your four sample pieces....time to slowly back away from the boxes of natural stone and shuffle on over the oasis that is the ceramic tile aisle.

Balance is the key

Like most things in life, it really comes down to balance.  You might want to choose a "calmer" or more consistent stone type if the rest of the materials that you are using in your room already have a great deal of visual texture.  Or go a little wild with your stone to spice things up in a room that is awash in mild, non-threatening neutrals. 

So go out there and embrace the wonderful imperfections and variety found in natural stone.  With all of the choices available, you are bound to find stone that has the character and beauty you are looking for, with a level of variation that you feel comfortable with. Another natural beauty, Marilyn Monroe, had the right idea when she said:
"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it is better
to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

Click below for other posts in this series:
Stone Tile Basics Part 3 - Embracing Imperfection- YOU ARE HERE
Stone Tile Basics Part 4 - It's all about us, baby! - COMING SOON

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To err is human...

We’ll admit it - we sometimes make mistakes and print a perfectly good mural or accent on the wrong stone or in the wrong size. Over time, we have built up a small stock of these murals, accents and listellos. These products are not defective in any way – our production team just made the wrong item.

All of these decorative tiles are sitting on our shelves just waiting for a home.  They ship out right away instead of our normal two week lead time.  It is a great option if you have a last minute need for some decorative tiles.  You can contact you local StoneImpressions Dealer to purchase one.

Take a look at some of the beauties that we currently have available:

on 4x4 Light Travertine
16" high x 12" wide

on 4x4 Bianco
12 high  x 16 wide

ACC200208, ACC200208-1 to 208-4
Set of 5 on 4x4 Bianco

CLERMONT UPRIGHT mural Custom Color Red
on 6X6 Tumbled Durango
18" high x 30" wide

on 3X6 Light Travertine
24 pieces available

BDR200215 BISCANTE Listello
4"x 8" Tumbled Durango
45 pieces available

Take a look at the whole selection of in stock tiles here: 
In Stock Decorative Tiles

Monday, September 20, 2010

Natural Stone Tile Basics - Part 2 - Learn the Lingo

In an earlier post, we went over some basics about stone sizes and how to calculate square footage. In this one, we are going to talk about some of the characteristics of natural stone tile.  There is a seemingly endless variety of stone types out there and we couldn't possibly cover it all.  So we are going to focus on the stone types we use and know well.  The best way to approach this is to give you a little tutorial on the terms that you might hear when shopping for stone.

Terms that describe the edges of the stone:

Straight Cut Edge
All stone tiles start out as a gigantic blocks of stone that have been mined from a quarry.  Those huge slabs have to be cut down into individual tiles.  The process of cutting the tiles leaves relatively straight edges on all sides.  We say "relatively straight" because stone is a natural product and you have to accept some departures from perfection.  More about that later.

Micro-bevel Edge
To get this kind of edge, the Straight Cut tiles are run through one more process to give the top edge of the tile a teeny-tiny little angle.   This is definitely a case where a picture is worth a thousand words.

The Micro-bevel edge gives the tile a very clean, contemporary look.

Tumbled Edges
To get the Tumbled effect, tiles with a straight edge are put into a tumbling machine.  Think of it as a big shaker filled with gravel or ceramic pieces.  The tumbler either vibrates or rotates and after a certain amount of time (and a number of broken tiles) the edges of the tiles are rounded out.
Tumbled edges are a very common way to finish natural stone tiles.  Rounded, imperfect edges are a great complement to the other natural characteristics of stone.

Chiseled Edge
We don't use stone with this type of edge, so we'll have to borrow from a great resource: The Build Direct Learning Center.  Specifically, their Travertine Tile Glossary defines a chiseled edge as: "The process by which a stone is given an aged appearance by mechanically chipping the edge of the tile."  We couldn't have said it better ourselves.  And here is a picture that they provide:

Stone tile with a chiseled edge.

Terms that describe the surface of the stone:

Honed Tile
Honing is a process of sanding or abrading the flat surface of the stone to smooth it.  Honed tiles have a matte finish.  They are smooth, but they are not highly polished or shiny.

Polished Tile
Polished stone is also sanded or abraded but it is done using smaller and smaller grit sanders until the surface of the tile is very smooth and shiny.

Filled Tile
Filling is a process to literally "fill in" all of the natural holes, pits and cracks in the natural stone tiles, which results in a smoother surface.  The fill is usually a similar color to the rest of the stone, so it blends in and adds to the natural texture of the tiles. 

Fill is not the same as grout.  Stone tile will be filled at the factory.  Grout is used only during installation of tile. Grout has a sandy texture. Fill is typically a polymer or synthetic material which is a smoother substance and is very hard once it dries. 

Example of travertine tile honed and filled.  Click on the picture for a larger view and you'll see the arrows pointing out the little spots of fill.  Some of the brighter, white spots are not fill.  They are  naturally occurring calcification running through the stone.

Unfilled Tile
At the risk of stating the obvious, unfilled tile does NOT have any holes, pits or cracks filled in.  It's the raw, wild, unpretentious stone - as if you just chopped a chunk off the quarry walls yourself.  Unfilled tile looks the most rustic and antique.
Examples of unfilled stone tiles

Brushed Tile
We also don't usually work with Brushed tiles so back to the experts at Build Direct Learning Center's Travertine Tile Glossary:
Brushed Finish = A finishing technique that requires the stone be brushed by a coarse wire brush. This replicates the appearance of natural wear over time.

Terms that describe the color of the stone:

Oy vey.  Too many to list.  Fortunately, the names used to describe colors of stone are not as extensive as those used for paint colors (Fuzzy Slippers, anyone?).  But what you need to know is that what one store calls Ivory, another might call Beige or Cream or Crema or Light or Classic.  The words used to describe the colors of different natural stone tiles are not universal.  You will find some consistency in the naming and often hear similar terms used.  But you really should go into the store to look at actual samples in order to see what colors you like.

And if you are going to shop around, write down the names of the tiles that you like along with the name of the store where you found them. You might fall in love with the Chocolate Tumbled Classico Antiqued tiles at Shop A.  But if you walk into Shop B and ask for Chocolate Tumbled Classico Antiqued tiles, you could be met with blank stares.  (Or if they are smart, Store B will whip out their Rustic Ancient Noce Classic tiles and tell you why Rustic Ancient Noce Classic tiles are so much better than Chocolate Tumbled Classico Antiqued tiles.)

Putting it all together:

The terms that we've just listed all describe different characteristics of natural stone tiles.  So you'll see individual types of stone described using many of these words strung together.  For example:

Honed and Filled - it is very common to see these two put together.  They both describe the surface of the tile - the holes have been filled in and then the surface was polished to a matte finish.

Tumbled and Unfilled - this is also one you'll see often.  The edges are tumbled and the surface is unfilled, showing the natural holes and crevices of the tile.

How about a little quiz?

Tell us if the tile descriptions below are correct or incorrect.  In other words, does it actually make sense when you put those particular terms together?  Remember that one piece of tile wold have to have all of those characteristics to be correct.  And don't forget- this will go on your permanent record.

A. Honed + Filled + Micro-bevel = Correct or Incorrect

B. Tumbled + Unfilled + Straight Cut = Correct or Incorrect

C. Unfilled + Brushed + Chiseled = Correct or Incorrect

D. Brushed + Polished + Tumbled = Correct or Incorrect

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A. Honed + Filled + Micro-bevel = Correct!

B. Tumbled + Unfilled + Straight Cut = Incorrect!
Tumbled and Straight Cut both describe the edges.
You can't have edges that are both tumbled and straight cut.

C. Unfilled + Brushed + Chiseled = Correct!

D. Brushed + Polished + Tumbled = Incorrect!
But this one was a little tricky.  Brushed and Polished both describe the surface finish of the tile.  Technically, you could polish the tile to make it shiny and then rub it with a wire brush to rough it up again.   But that would just be silly.  No point in polishing something that you plan to scratch up again.


If you answered all 4 questions correctly - You are a Stone Master.  You would dominate in the building materials version of Trivial Pursuit.  You are more than ready to go shopping for stone tile.  In fact, you could probably sell natural stone tile!

If you answered 2-3 questions correctly -  You are a Stone Knight.  The force is strong in you but there are still a few things yet to learn.  You can enter the tile stores with confidence, but keep your mind open for more learning opportunities.

If you answered 1 question correctly - You are a Stone Novice.  You've got the enthusiasm, kid, but you need to hit the books a little harder.  Start hanging around tiles stores and slab yards, and if they don't call the cops on you for loitering, you might pick up a little knowledge.

If you got 0 answers right - You are Stone Vessel.  A blank slate upon which much can be written.  Your journey towards mastery will involve asking questions.  Many questions.  Find a helpful tile salesperson and let them impart their wisdom.  Taking notes is encouraged.

Wrapping it up:

We hope that you found this tutorial to be helpful.  Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all of the terms that are used when talking about natural stone.  Just some of the basics that relate to the stone tiles that we personally work with most often.  It's a big world of stone out there.  There is always more to learn.  Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.  In the next post we'll talk about learning to love the variations in natural stone tile.  Stay tuned!

Click below for other posts in this series:

Stone Tile Basics Part 1 - Sizes and measuring
Stone Tile Basics Part 2 - Learn the lingo - YOU ARE HERE
Stone Tile Basics Part 3 - Embracing Imperfection - coming soon
Stone Tile Basics Part 4 - It's all about us, baby! - coming soon