Friday, June 7, 2013

Reclaimed Terracotta Tile Wine Rack

Josh, a friend of mine, sent me a message saying that he needed to have his terracotta roof redone, and he wanted to know if I could use some salvaged tiles to build a wine rack. Wine racks are something of my specialty, so I said of course, and we set to work designing something. He asked me because he wanted to give his wife a nice birthday present... so: Happy Birthday, Julie. I hope you enjoy the unexpected benefits of needing to replace your roof.

Josh lives in an old house, built in the 20s-ish. It was built out of Milwaukee Cream City bricks and is roofed with red terracotta tiles, which until recently were from whenever the house was built. After bouncing some ideas around we settled on a general aesthetic theme: Make the piece evocative of the house. So from there I knew I needed to keep the wood light in color and to showcase the red of the tile.

I opted for red oak as a material and no stain (of course). This keeps the wood color pretty light. The finish is a satin varnish. We opted for satin instead of gloss so as to not clash with the tile, and also I think it's much more "Cream City brick" in character than a glossy polyurethane would be. To give you an idea of the color of the wood, I snapped a few pics from before I attached the tiles, but after I had applied the finish.

When I was thinking about how to design the piece, I kept coming back to the tiles. The whole point of using them is to showcase them. With that in mind, I hit upon an idea that was a departure from my wine rack designs of the past - build a display rack, not a mass-storage rack. I tipped the tiles at a 45-degree angle, which would show off the bottles and show off the tiles in spaces that had no bottles.

This radically reduced the number of bottles that I could fit into the space. I wanted to increase the number of bottles that the piece could hold so it would still be a good functional piece. So, I slotted an additional six spaces for bottles to lie on their sides behind the tiles, accessible from the sides. This upped the number of bottles that could be stored from nine to 15, which is a much more respectable number (albeit far fewer than could have been stored had we prioritized just number of bottles).

I do feel like the effect of creating slots for display bottles turned out to be pretty cool. When cellaring wine, especially natural-corked wine, the goal is to lay the bottle down and to keep the cork wet. This gives you a display of end after end of bottles, which hides what can be some really cool label art. This 45-degree display allows us to show off some cool wine and some cool reclaimed tiles at the same time.

This was a fun project to pull together. Josh was an easy customer, saying at one point "I always differ to the artist," which is cool because before that precisely 0 people had ever referred to me as an artist. It's also cool because it gave me the freedom of a blank canvas, a set of problems, and it was up to me and my imagination as to how I was going to solve them. I came up with this, and I hope its new owners enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed building it.

Have any questions about how I did something? Send me an email and ask. I'll be happy to answer any questions you've got.

Post Script:

Speaking of cool wine bottles to display, let's give a little love to Force of Nature (on the popular social networking site bookface too). I saw their Cabernet Sauvignon (sweet photos from a guy who appears to know what he's doing with a camera... I, on the other hand, have an iphone... he wins). at Wine Discount Center (very cool place, check it out if ever needing vino in the Chicago area). I couldn't not buy it, the label was so cool. It tastes good too. Because it was good, and the labels so sweet, I found a place to buy it that wasn't too far away, The Wine Cellar in Palatine, IL, and picked up a bottle of Force of Nature's Tempranillo, Pinot Gris, and Zinfandel, which I haven't yet opened, but I am eagerly waiting for an excuse to drink them.

I used the Force of Nature bottles as the 'props' in all of the pictures of the wine rack, and in case anyone wants to see closer pictures of each bottle (like you don't...) they're posted below.

Cabernet Sauvignon:



Pinot Gris:

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