Over the past year or two I have been taking foam meat trays, cutting them into four inches squares, then distressing the surface with acetone. The textured tiles then get abstract paint treatments, and sometime I collage on skeletonized leaves or other natural materials. The finished tiles are preserved with acrylic varnish, then mounted with a floating mat. The finished pieces are 11x11 inches, and are unique and eye-catching - though hard to capture well in a photo.
I have recently been taking the tiles in a new direction. I recently complete a series of six, and instead of distressing the surface of the foam tiles, I have been painting each square with black gesso, then adding collaged elements in a limited palette of black, buff, red and sometimes gold. The simple compositions looked oriental to me, so I asked a friend in San Francisco to mail me a Chinese newspaper, and I have been using some text for added interest. I do not know what any of it says, but I'm not too concerned about anyone translating the little snippets. I suspect they are advertisements. Anyway, these tile use colored bits of paper doilies, cardboard, some stamping, some home textured tissue papers, and bits of salvaged wallpaper. I like the idea that all the materials are recycled from materials that might otherwise be tossed in the trash.
Each tile will be mounted on a brushed gold back board, with a black mat floating around the completed tile. I'm excited about the new direction this sort of work is taking.