Tomettes are the French version in terra cotta of floor tiles. Having lived for over 40 years in France these are very familiar to me. There are those from the North, very uniform and quite dark and then those from the South and Italy which are lighter and contain impurities that add to their charm.
Now there are times when you have an idea in your head of how something would look and it often leads to crashing dissapointment. This time, no crowing here, it worked out much better than I imagined. I had been debating about the floor in the hallway and hesitated between dark wide planking to match the steps or some form of tile or flagstone. I saw this page in UK House & Garden, a magasine I buy each month along with 'the World of Interiors' and 'Country Living'. It gave me an idea of making a sample to work out the possilities. Now most of you will know how to make these but as I say I make things up as I go. I wanted to decide the thickness of the flooring for the steps and then the drawing room wood flooring so there will be no discrepencies.
This photo shows a mix of hexagonal and square tiles or 'tomettes'. Years ago I used to collect these old tiles to lay in my living room in a previous home but the sheer size of the room meant that it would take years. We eventually sold the house complete with a mountain of tiles. I have no idea if they ever laid them. I love the mix of tiles here, even incorporating odd and broken tiles and I might include this idea in the hallway. I love all the colours in these tiles and the sheen as the light hits them. This photo also gave me an idea of having a drinks trolley or table.
I tried a couple of scales and will try a third now I have worked out the technique. These tiles are usually about 15 cms wide. My version is 15 mm wide ( 18 cms in real scale) . Some older tiles are smaller and in the South of France and Italy they can be 20 cms and larger. I cut out some blanks to see if they 'fit' ok first. I chose 350 grm Kraft card and cut out each one individually, some thing to do in front of the fire at night !
Here I fixed them to reverse masking tape as I worked on them. The tape stuck too well and when taking them off some backing came with them, which was not a problem but maybe next time I will use a gentler version. I plastered them with a sort of Polyfilla compound and tapped down with an emery board to give it texture. I then sanded lightly and painted a thick coat of F&B 'CLUNCH' a good useful colour. These F&B sample pots are great ways of buying those slightly vintage 'off' colours for little money.
I was a bit impatient so I used a hair dryer to speed things up. Muralists and paint effect artists use a hair dryer very often. My oldest and best friend Maggie is such a person and she has worked in some amazing homes, some of her work is listed.
Above you can see I had just glued them on a thick piece of cardboard with visible joints. I forgot the take a photo of the actual painting but it consisted of dabbing on Ochre, Burnt Umber mixed with white and a touch of red acrylic. As you can see some of the paint actually got onto the tiles !!
Below you can see a pen line where I varnished the right side with mat acrylic varnish and the left with no varnish. I then grouted all the joints using the same Polyfilla before wiping down. I finished with some Antique dark wax for furniture which darkened the joints. I will say that the varnish helped the grout to spread more easily and will use it when I get round to making the floor.
Here is a close up and you can see the irregular surface typical of these tomette tiles. Now All I have to do is repeat the process X 30 ! Long nights ahead! I hope that this is useful to someone. I will try some flagstones and other tiles now I have done this.
Now I can get back to the staircase. I did this as part of the structure was drying so I didn't really betray my Schedule.