A decorator showed us a number of tile samples and we mulled them over for quite a while before making our choice. The samples were small, perhaps 3" x 3", and there were about six different tiles in the color palate we chose. Consequently, we had no idea what the fireplace would look like when it was completed. About ten days later the tile came in and the tile guy worked seven hours over two days to do the job. It was not at all what we envisioned; it was far more beautiful than we expected.
When the work was almost done, I asked the tile guy where the tile came from. He scratched his head and surmised that maybe it came from Italy. That made me feel good, thinking about Italian quarrymen cutting out those tiles just as their ancestors had done for hundreds or thousands of years. However, today when I went to the garage to test the sealing process on one unused tile, I saw in large letters on the box top, "MADE IN CHINA".
Now, when I look at the beautiful fireplace, I can't help but think that I am looking at my own little chunk of China, covering American bricks. Perhaps I wouldn't have been able to afford Italian tile, and maybe we don't produce these tiles in the U.S., but I wish it was otherwise. I don't dislike the Chinese, but I do worry about our trade imbalance with them. It's too bad that I just added to the problem. Please, my Chinese friends, buy another bulldozer or something from us!