Tiled Bar & Baker’s Rack
The inspiration for this tiled bar & baker’s rack came from all over. It started with the doors which were discarded scenery pieces from a production of West Side Story. I thought they would be the perfect doors to a bar or cabinet. I then went about drawing what I wanted with the constraints of the “doors,” this process took a couple of years working off and on.
The project went on hold for a number of years while I worked to establish a permanent home for myself and a place to work on this. I had access to a wood and metal shop for a couple of months so I took the opportunity then to build the cabinet case and the steel shelving. I over built this piece, and had I to do it again would have reworked my structure. But, in an earthquake I would garner that inside my bar is the safest place to hide.
The steel shelves were inspired by the wrought iron railing on the house I grew up in. That railing had some lovely curly-cues and scroll work. I had hoped to do the same and had a plan. Unfortunately, the parts needed to smoothly bend the steel were not available like I thought they would be. So they got cut in the end. My steel frame is coated in a chemical that turns rust into a black primer which gives it that lovely wrought iron look.
The tiled bar top and shelves were also inspired by the house I grew up in; the front porch had a mosaic tiled porch in similar colors. For this part, I started with tar paper and drew the pattern I wanted. Since terracotta clay shrinks about 10%, I knew I would have enough room for grout and additional wiggle room if they shrank oddly.
After rolling out my clay, I let it dry to about leather hard. At that stage I laid out my tar paper pattern pieces and cut them out. Each piece was also labeled with letter and number stamps to help in putting the puzzle back together. Very glad I did that step.
I love the slight variation the terracotta gave me. I’m not sure if that had to do with using multiple bags of clay or that some were bisque fired to a higher temperature than the others, but it is beautiful.
I found a tiling instruction book at a thrift store and used those directions for tiling a kitchen or bathroom counter. The steel shelves are removable and to make sure they stayed that way, I laid out around the interior edge of the steel some 1/4″ ethafoam (or backer rod) which is used in concrete construction between seams to allow for thermal movement and as an ease point as the ground settles. I picked a grout color to match the ethafoam so it is not noticeable.
I still need to install cabinet catches for the doors and maybe a key lock, but I haven’t decided yet. And my spacing for the wine glass holders under the shelves was too far apart, so I will need to make a modification to that as well.
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