One woman, lots of paint and hundreds of tiles. If you're here because you found a painted tile, it's yours to keep.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lure of the tiles

The most basic explanation of Tile Fort Lauderdale is that it’s about one woman painting pictures on tiles and planting them all over town. But really, it’s about more than that, so much more that I can only explain over time, as I paint the first batch of tiles that I hope to have on the street within two weeks.

Several months ago, I went walking at Birch Park with a friend and afterwards we decided to meet at Dirty Ernie’s in Fort Lauderdale for barbecue sandwiches (on the best Bimini bread ever). I arrived first and while standing around the parking lot waiting, I spotted something shiny and aqua on the ground. I picked it up and, much to my delight, it had loads of little beads and eyes all over it. I didn’t know exactly what it was, just that it was gorgeous. When my friend Jane arrived, I proudly showed her the treasure I had discovered and she was duly impressed, noting that if she had arrived minutes earlier, she would have found it.

It turns out the little gem we were both fawning over was simply some kind of fishing lure – albeit a very special-looking one. I carried it around in my purse, showing it to friends when the opportunity arose. Eventually, on Jane’s birthday I tied it to a string wrapped around a foil-covered bowl of potato salad and gave it to her along with the latest Found magazine. She was thrilled to finally own the lure and transformed the parking lot find into two dangly earrings that she probably shouldn’t wear while swimming in the ocean.

I sometimes wonder about the past life of this lure and whether the person who dropped it ever missed it. They'd never know that the lure became a a topic of lunch conversation or that it lived in my purse for months, only to be brought out for show-and-tell sessions. They'd also never know that their lure went on to become earrings and inspired a writer to launch her first blog and paint tiles to hide all over Fort Lauderdale just for fun.

It’s been five months since I rescued that magical lure from it's possible tire-crushing demise, but it’s only now that I realize what’s so special about it. Picking up that beady, aqua, eye-laden lure represents everything that fascinates me in life ­‑‑ mystery, wonder, discovery, excitement and the realization that one simple second in time can change the course of your life in rather unusual ways.

Not that any of this explains what led me to launch a tiny project called Tile Fort Lauderdale, but it's a start.


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