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The Grapevine


Sonoma Tilemakers brings a taste of wine into your home or business with its new Connoisseur tile collection.

Inspired by the vineyards of Sonoma County, the tiles are ideal for a simple back splash, fireplace accent or a playful wine bar. There are 11 tiles in the line, each carved to capture the textures of grapes on the vine and leaves fluttering in the breeze.

There are five designs that feature grapes, leaves and branches (from $18 to $64 each). Two specially designed wine labels ($30 for set of two, 6-by-6-inch tiles) and four 3-by-6-inch tag tiles incised with varietal names of wine complete the collection ($24 per set of four).

The Connoisseur tiles (about $22 per square foot) are available at Walker and Zanger, 350 Clinton St., Suite A, Costa Mesa, (714) 546-3671.

Stalking Heads

Turn your patio garden or conservatory into a wild kingdom with Plant Heads, whimsical accessories made by Laguna Beach artist David Tougas.

Plant Heads are handcrafted of wood, which is kiln-dried to keep out moisture. They are hand-painted with acrylics, then sealed and waxed.

There are eight characters in the collection: Bill, the bird; Zeke, the zebra; Stretch, the giraffe; Gazelle; Elmer, the elephant; Toucan, a baby zebra; a baby giraffe; and a parrot.

Tougas, who is known as a muralist and product designer, has focused his efforts on whimsical pieces with strong, vibrant colors.

In addition to the Plant Heads, Tougas has introduced a line of hand-carved, oversized artist paintbrushes that are spattered, dripped and smudged with bright colors. Even if you don't paint, the brushes, which are 18 inches to 40 inches long, can give a room a splash of accent color. They range from $35 from a small brush to $60 for a large one.

Tougas and his partner, Rich de Michele, do not recommend the Plant Heads (two sizes; 44 inches tall, $65 each; 15 inches tall, $10 each) for outdoor garden use, as the colors will fade in the sun.

For more information or to order, call (800) 909-5558.

Joe Coolers

Lugging bulky coolers and chests to picnics and other outdoor celebrations is a thing of the past.

California Innovations has come up with a collapsible version that works like a conventional cooler, but folds flat to fit nearly anywhere.

The ThermalWhiz and ThermalWhiz Classic, which have heavy-duty insulation and leakproof liners, work for hot or cold foods.

The coolers are available in a variety of colors and sizes, ranging from 15-can (about $15) to 72-can (about $50) capacity. A high-top model accommodates 2-liter jugs and wine bottles.

The coolers are sold in several stores throughout Orange County. For more information, call (416) 590-7700.

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