It all fits together
Tile guy Ron Lester surfaces a local bar, bathrooms and horseshoe pits
Fot’s Lounge has that campy, bordello-meets- art house-theater feel, with its velvety couches, dim lighting and built-in hideouts. Creative touches are everywhere—owner Steve Foht has a small tribe of folks lending their artfulness to the bar’s decor—but one of Fot’s most defining and admirable pieces of artistry is also its most functional. Colorful tile patterns, the handiwork of Ron Lester, adorn the bar floor and the bar top itself.
Lester worked mostly freehand on the project, letting intuition guide him as he pieced together the abstract tile patterns atop the bar and a huge “dancing star,” with smaller companion stars, on the floor. A longtime casual craftsman, Lester said that this is his biggest tile undertaking.
“I’ve always done table tops for friends or did table tops to give them to people as gifts, and what not,” Lester says. “As far as this place goes … [Foht] gave me leeway to do whatever.”
With artistic license in hand, Lester established the basis of his patterning: a bucket-sized circle in the floor’s center resembling the Earth as seen from far away.
“It’s all freehand,” he says. “I put a bucket here and then drew around it and measured how many tiles [should go] around it. That’s the only writing I did on the ground. I measured points, how many squares for each point … I extended it out farther so it looks like a dancing star, ‘cause stars are cool.”
Lester says that he hopes this is just the first of many tile enterprises. He plans to move to Maui in the spring and make a living tiling homes and businesses. He’s already had a few gigs tiling bathrooms and the like, and his own home is filled with tile touches. He surfaced his bathroom and kitchen, but tile shows up at more unexpected places, too—like around his horseshoe pit.
Lester has been doing crafts—both woodwork and tile—practically "forever," but it seems that his craftsmanship is reaching a new level of seriousness. He graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a degree in marketing and was working at the Eldorado until just a few weeks ago. (Anticipating his Maui move, Lester quit his job.) In the next few months, he plans to sharpen his tile skills, preparing for a full-fledged career in marble, ceramic, cement and grout.