Posts Tagged ‘Talavera’

I know I promised that Talavera transformation, the end was the end of the talavera tile projects.  However, what can I say?   It’s been almost two years and the outdoor counter was too small to be functional, not to mention that the 25+ year old glass tiles kept loosening and falling off the sink area.


Modeled after my kitchen sink project, two other kitchens in my apartment complex had recently received a facelift and had used up most of the tiles squirreled away in the bodega.   But, I was determined and the expansion project began.


Despite the lack of tiles, the previously mentioned, Sebastián and Leonardo began framing the new counter top.  The first attempt at purchasing more tiles at Materiales Venecia (on the way to Tule) ended in a police bloqueo.  We (thank you, Chris) turned around and headed over to Home Depot.  No talavera tiles.  Then Romasa.  Also, no dice.


Push came to shove, the tiling needed to begin!  So, the following day, we again set out for Materiales Venecia — this time, smooth sailing and success.  With dimensions, a design, and a calculator in hand, the math was done (while squatting on the sidewalk) and boxes of green and dark terracotta tiles were purchased.


I’d bought the accent pieces years ago at a Oaxaca Lending Library bazaar, had planned the design around them, and was SO glad to finally see them being put to use.


After two weeks of on again/off again work, depending on their work schedule and my ability to obtain materials, the counter was finished and I immediately went out in search of stools, so I could belly-up to the bar to sip my morning coffee and sunset glass of wine.


I love it!  And, besides serving as a delightful place to eat breakfast and dinner, the added storage under the counter is fantastic.  No more looking at the plastic garbage cans holding dirt, stacks of buckets, and leftover paint cans — thanks to shower curtains.


What’s next?  Who knows…

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Just because the concrete stairs were ugly, the bodega held more tile, Nalo is a maestro…

2 concrete stairs

and what’s a little more talavera between friends?

2 stairs with tile on risers

The end, I promise!

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Initially, when I came face-to-face with the kitchen at the bigger and better Casita Colibrí, I was convinced there was NO way I could make it work and that IT should be numero uno on the make-over list.  A double sink, but no counter space?  A grungy ancient copper-colored stove that may or may not have been safe to light?  A cabinet door that couldn’t be opened, because said stove was in the way?

Small kitchenWith a little pleading (whining), management replaced the stove with a new one that had been hiding in the storage shed.  I installed the shelf unit I’d gotten for my old apartment and I had the cabinetry painted white — making it more functional and easier on the eyes — and I was happy.  Hey, a friend even wanted to practice using his new fisheye lens.

Kitchen with white cabinets and appliances

(photo by Alan Goodin)

However, the talavera transformation in the bathroom turned out so well, I was inspired, plus the cement at the base of the kitchen sink unit kept falling out.  Thus, talavera transformation, part 2 began two weeks ago.

Framing for kitchen counter

The old cabinet was demolished (oh, the polvo!) and the new counter, with new sink, began to materialize from the dust and debris.

Cement base on kitchen counter top

Again, I scavenged tile from the bodega.  Luckily, there were several boxes of russet orange tiles, but they were slightly smaller than most of the other orphan tiles, making finding accent pieces a challenge.  I didn’t want to introduce another color into the blue/cream/orange mix that already tiled the walls and so was hoping Nalo and crew could salvage some of the old tile, but it proved far too time consuming.

Russet orange tile on counter

The result?  I love the cleaner, less busy, look for the kitchen.  And, the crew took about 6″ off the top of my old shelf unit, so it would fit under the new counter and I wouldn’t lose the storage space.  It’s faintly visible on the right behind the blue plastic curtain.

Russet orange tile counter with accent tiles.

One of my grandmother’s oft-repeated sayings was, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”  — but I’m trying!!!

h/t Chris for the shower curtain idea.

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For those of you who may not be aware, most Mexican bedrooms and bathrooms are small.  In the US, it’s what I grew up with and lived with most of my life, so I’m cool with that.  However, what has driven me nuts is the lack of a bathroom counter.  How does one handle toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, and water bottle, without at least one of the items ending up in the sink or on the floor?  And, forget trying to apply makeup!

Small white bathroom sink

So, when I moved into my bigger and better, but also with the aforementioned deficiency, apartment a year and a half ago, it became number one on my “find a way to fix” list. Serendipity motivated me into action, when I happened upon a talavera sink and surround on sale AND discovered a treasure trove of leftover talavera tiles in the bodega (storage shed) here at my apartment complex.  Project proposed and permission given by the property’s owner (thanks Doug), I hired a contractor, and work began.

brick and wood framing for counter

Being completely ignorant of construction of this type, I was fascinated by the process.

Concrete countertop

Once I’d received the okay for the project, I began hauling up buckets of mismatched tiles from the bodega and laying them out on the floor of my main room — in an attempt to create some sort of unified design — it was exciting to see it materialize.

Counter with tile

The finished project…

Talavera bathroom sink and counter

And, take a look at the side — it’s what one see’s when opening the bathroom door.  I think Nalo and his crew did a super job!

Side of talavera counter

What a difference a bathroom counter makes.  Form and function!!!

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This post was inspired by a couple of recent close encounters of the reptilian kind.

When my gal pals were visiting at the end of March, naturally we went to Mitla and wandered through the archeological site.  In addition to the intricate fretwork, remains of wall paintings, massive columns, and tombs, one of the, very much alive, residents of this “place of the dead,” caught our eye.

Lizard on the rocksShe was extremely busy digging a hole in the rocks (to lay eggs?) and allowed us get within less than a meter from her.  One of her relatives was, no doubt an inspiration for one of my favorite alebrije by Bertha Cruz of the woodcarving village of San Antonio Arrazola.

Wood carved and intricately painted lizard

And then, a couple of nights ago, one of my resident, but very shy, geckos made a rare appearance on one of the beams that spans my brick ceiling.

Gecko on white beam

While my geckos greet me in the morning and night with their welcoming chirps, they seldom come out into the open when I’m around.  However, there it was, high above my head and frozen in place as I approached.  It remained while I went to get my camera and then stayed for the requisite photo shoot.  Thank you my chirping friend!

Blue, green, yellow and white ceramic gecko on brick wall.

I wonder if, during its nocturnal wanderings through my apartment, my little gecko came across its talavera likeness hanging on the wall?

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