Unique Medallion: Becomes a Perfect Fit – 2021 WFOY: Best in Marquetry/Inlays

This year’s Wood Floor of the Year for Best in Marquetry/Inlays is a medallion inspired by an artist’s 3-D sculpture made of logs. Tom Ourada’s artistic interpretation of this work resulted in a unique medallion comprised of branches capped with end-grain pieces. The medallion gives the impression of 3-D and is composed of three repeating patterns to form a circle that looks like a sphere.

“Creating medallions like this is something that is very fun for me, and I had the idea of this one for years,” explains Ourada, owner of Ourada Designs in Nine Mile Falls, Washington. “There was an artist that did an actual 3-D version out of logs, and my idea was that I could do a picture of that sculpture on the floor. I did a version in my shop and posted it online. Later, a client saw my original attempt and asked if I would be willing to replicate the floor in one of his rental properties in Missouri.”

“It was a great time, with us all focused on a single, end-result. I brought all of the wood we used with me in a van, and that limited us to what we had to work with. However, I find those kinds of limitations to be very enjoyable. We were able to make design decisions based strictly on the material we had with us. The entire time, we were learning together, and encouraging each other to do our absolute best.”
— Tom Ourada, Ourada Designs

The apartment owner had a penchant for installing unique wood floors inside his properties as a value-added feature, and believed that Ourada’s medallion would be a perfect fit. Ourada agreed and contacted Aaron Schaalma, owner of Signature Custom Flooring in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and Keith Long from Thunderheart Flooring in Greely, Colorado, to assist him with the design and installation of the floor.

“We decided we would travel to Missouri to create something special together. Each of us had a part in the final design,” says Ourada. “It was a great time, with us all focused on a single, end-result. I brought all of the wood we used with me in a van, and that limited us to what we had to work with. However, I find those kinds of limitations to be very enjoyable. We were able to make design decisions based strictly on the material we had with us. The entire time, we were learning together, and encouraging each other to do our absolute best.”

The 208 wood pieces that comprise the floor were hand-cut and shaped with a bandsaw, jigsaw, drill motor with sandpaper bit, and an oscillating belt saw. Surrounding the medallion is live edge wood which Ourada and his partners scribed into radiating white oak.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM OURADA, OURADA DESIGNS

“Once the floor was installed, we used DuraSeal neutral oil to stain the floor, to get it sealed, and then used a DuraSeal water-based finish on top,” explains Ourada. “We were so pleased with how it turned out.”

Ourada’s only regret with the floor is that he and his team didn’t have more time.

“Looking back, I’d have loved to insert even more detail than what we were able to accomplish in a week’s time. That said, to me, this floor represents the ultimate in hardwood flooring installation,” says Ourada. “We had a very cool floor, three guys collaborating for a full week to make something interesting and beautiful together, learning on the job, but all working hard and well together without ego. That experience was the best part of it.”

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