A French Colonial Tiled Coffee Table

I have always loved antique tiles, especially French colonial tiles found in countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia. Both countries were occupied by the French in the late 19th and early 20th century and with this occupation came the most beautiful blend of French architecture and design with a tropical landscape. French colonial villas were adorned with beautiful tiles, wooden shutters and elegant balconies.  The tiles are what I find most appealing. Because of the heat in French Indochina, tiles were a popular way, and still are though not so beautiful these days, to keep a house cooler.  The tiles made popular by the French during this period were made from dyed cement. Different coloured cement would be poured into a mold to create a patter and this pattern and colour would make up anywhere from the entire tile to at least 2 inches on the surface – meaning the pattern on the tiles would not wear from useage. This is precisely why so many French colonial tiles remain intact in Vietnam and Cambodia today.


A French colonial table anyone?


I have been searching high and low for some French colonial tiles in mint condition but, although these beauties have remained intact in the buildings they were intended for, unfotunately there are very few stand alone pieces that have survived damage.  Some stunning examples can be seen in restaurants throughout Phnom Penh and in the central train station in Saigon. If you are not able to travel this far afield you can also see some fine examples of tiles from this period at the crillon hotel in Paris. 


Fortunately I was able to find a man in Saigon who is replicating these French colonial tiles to the most minute of detail. Not only is he copying the designs from French Indochina, he is also using the most hard wearing of methods  - pouring the coloured cement so that it layers through the whole tile.  I have 1 sqm of the stunning, and very original looking, tiles below on their way to me as we speak!


My Plan for the Tiles:


I have always wanted to make a coffee table for my living room using French colonial tiles. I think this is such a classic and timeless look that will give the room a touch of colonial beauty without the price tag involved in tiling the whole living room floor in this way. Now, as you probably know by now, I am not one to pay other people to do this sort of thing for me, preferring, in almost all cases, to give it a go myself.  I do quite like a wooden coffee table with a tiled surface but what I find most attractive is a metal frame inlaid with tiles, like that in the picture below.


I have done a little bit of welding in my time but I don’t currently have a welder. From previous experience, I have found that a gas metal arc welder, or mig welder as it is more commonly known, is better for creating very strong bonds between metal. So I am now on the search for a mig welder for sale.  I could potentially borrow one from a friend but if I can find a decent mig welder for sale I think I would prefer to have my own because I have lots of ideas for other projects which will involve welding. And who knows, perhaps I will become a proficient welder in the process and begin to incorporate metal welding into my art.


Where to find a mig welder for sale?


I have checked the local classifieds ads, as I would like to check it out first, but nothing has come up so far.  I have found a mig welder for sale that I am interested in here: http://www.for-sale.co.uk/mig-welder-ebay. Does anyone have any tips for selecting a mig welder for sale without actually viewing it and making sure it works. The mig welder for sale that I have found is very reasonably priced at just £20 but do you think this low price is a reflection on the quality? It sounds as though it is on very good condition and has all the parts intact.  If I am only planning to use it for light work and on fairly rare occasions, would a cheaper model like this be suitable for me?


It would be great to hear from anyone who has experience with welding, using mig welders or anyone who has a decent mig welder for sale. Thanks for your help and I will be back soon to report on my progress.  Bye for now, Sally.