It's been over a 6 month process for us to develop and populate the new Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc. site. It has taken over 11 years to get to this point. In 2000, François and I began Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc. with the love for hand made French terra cotta tile. I remember turning over a 6" x 6" terra cotta tile in my palm, marveling at the idea that this one tile was made by hand - like the 40,000 other tiles before us in our warehouse. In French, I was "bouche bée". As an artist and avid history buff for old world European décor - but unknowingly to me at that time - we would use this tile as our canvas to create historically inspired terra cotta tile floors that appear to be hundreds of years old. We have been down a long cobblestone path and back again to say the least. The cobblestone path is a perfect analogy for Pavé Tile for the word Pavé is in fact, cobblestone in French.
Walking in Langres, France last summer (a town built on a limestone promontory, a stronghold originally occupied by the Gauls, fortified by the Romans and prospering in the Middle Ages), we stumbled along our cobblestone path. The sun was setting, the light perfect and the picture was taken. One cobblestone along that path in Langres, a city established in the 1400's, could tell more than 1000 stories. Just a path alone could tell a story. Any story. For a path inspires adventure, what's down that path, behind that curve, among the grass and daises? I imagine for a moment the horses on carts, the soldiers off to war, a woman returning from the boulangerie, a child skipping home after playing in the square by the fountain...all those footsteps that help to create the patina I see before me.
Ah...that infamous patina. How we search for it and try to recreate it - from our furniture to our flooring. Why is that? For those who love antiques and for those who love mixing vintage and modern decor (my preference), I have concluded that we love patina for the human connection. Patina means that someone has been there before - experiencing life like us - with all the glory and all the pain - across time, we are in fact all the same.
Naivety is bliss and François and I would never return from whence we came knowing the work, hours, failures and finally successes it took for us to develop the patina found in our own Pavé Tile Terra Cotta Floor Collections. Where I am the dreamer that imagines, draws and paints the lines, François is the accomplisher - who puts into motion the fabrication of my work onto the terra cotta tile. He has spent countless hours experimenting, inventing machinery, testing and retesting the product - frustrated 95% of the time. Hand made terra cotta tile is as beautiful as it's elusive - and it's only time spent that will teach the nuances of this remarkable product.
My final thought in this blog post is that the Cobblestone Path is a path that will always lead you home again. Returning home after an adventure means one will never be quite the same. Whether it was an elderly woman you met along the way retelling a story that touched your heart or placing two prized 15th century French sconces on your bedroom wall, the memories down that path have added to who you are.
Even though it's been over 11 years, François and I have just begun. As we work on a new Collection - my hand itching to begin drawing the decoratives, Francois' fascination with yet another machine and acting like a mad scientist in finding this collection's patina - we look forward to presenting it soon.
As a former high school French teacher, I will leave you in saying...
À la prochaine,
Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc. European Flooring