Yesterday's unwanted tile could be tomorrow's work of art

Published on Tuesday, 27 February 2018 18:43
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEWINGTON – Ever thought about digging up your floor tiles and hanging them on a wall?

Artist Candace Nystrom is leading a Free Tile Art Demonstration Saturday, March 10 at the ReCONNstruction Center, 731 New Britain Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This non-profit is one of the region’s leading recyclers of building materials and a landmark resource for contractors. It’s also a growing destination for area artists, who find blank slates in the heavily-discounted items that stock the 12,600 sq. ft. warehouse shelves.

Nystrom discovered ReCONN last October and made a friend in treasurer and board member Jerilyn Nagel.

“I was just looking around to see if they might have some tiles to paint on and she took me to this space with every color, shape and size of tile,” Nystrom remembered. “That’s where it all started.”

Prior to that first visit, the artist would frequent larger home improvement stores to find her medium of choice. She had no idea that hiding just a few blocks away from her New Britain home was a place with a larger selection of tiles, at less than one-third the price.

Her art is sold as drink coasters, magnets and wall décor.

The process of transforming a material that escaped a bathroom-floor-fate into a thing of beauty is Nystrom’s specialty. It begins with rubbing alcohol, which she uses to clean the tile and mixes with ink to create paint. After she goes wild with a paintbrush, the completed work is sprayed with varnish and UV protector.

“To refurbish something that’s been in a box for years and turn it into something that someone wants to hang on their wall – it’s emotional for me,” Nystrom said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

She’ll be donating half the proceeds from any art sales that day back to ReCONN.

The store’s stock is donated by contractors, businesses and homeowners. Only high-quality items are accepted. They are often surplus, either the wrong measurement for a job or simply outdated and unwanted. Renovators, landlords and other contractors find new uses for items, which would have otherwise ended up in landfills.

But some might also assume new identities as art materials, if the inspiration is found.

“Nothing is in matched sets there,” offered Nystrom, the store’s latest fan. “It’s just a whole world of beautiful things that can be repurposed. The opportunities are endless.”

This isn’t the first time ReCONN has put artists to work.

“We had a great fundraising event in 2012, where artists and designers created a gown using free building materials from our store,” Nagel recalled. “They had a fashion show at the Torp Theater at Central Connecticut State College.”

She’s excited about the upcoming demonstration, which is open to people of all ages.

“I think it’s a great use of our recycled materials. We got a very large donation of tiles from a fellow in Hartford. Most are the four-inch tiles you can’t even find anymore.”

She went on to list many other items which might catch the eye of artists poking around the store.

“We have lamps, dressers, kitchen cabinets, mirrors, doorknobs, cabinet handles. If you’re an artist, there are all kinds of things you can make your own.”

Donations to ReCONN are 100 percent tax-deductible.

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, @schmittnbh or

If you go:

WHAT: Free Painting on Tile Demonstration with Artist Candace Nystrom

WHEN: Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

WHERE: The ReCONNstruction Center, 731 New Britain Ave., Newington

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Tuesday, 27 February 2018 18:43. Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2018 18:45.