Brad Rhodes' Ingenious Ilusionary Floors

Down the Rabbit Hole...Dallas wood finisher/artist Brad Rhodes has created some crazily gorgeous floors with a technique he has created of pattern dying (not painting) wood, which mimics the kind of translucent inlaid stone floors found in centuries old churches and villas.

He came up with the technique after a designer brought him a photo of an inlaid marble table and asked him to recreate the look on a wood floor. Rhodes studied some of the greatest marble marquetry floors in the world before he perfected his technique, including those at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice.

To create the floors, Rhodes uses the almost-lost technique of dying wood, which actually permeates deep into the wood, creating an illusion of translucence that paint can't. Stains also can't produce the crisp, precise patterns that dye can. "Dye is magical," says Rhodes. "It reacts with the chemicals found naturally in the wood and actually alters the colors of the fibers. You can dye wood solid black and still see the beautiful grain. You can't do that with stain or paint."

Rhodes is a self-taught wood finisher who been working with wood dyes for more than 20 years in his business restoring and refinishing antique furniture. Although the dyes used to create these particular floors are synthetic, Rhodes often uses the same natural dyes that people used centuries ago, which he gleaned from reading old books on the subject. Once he and his wife spent days in west Texas gathering hundreds of tiny cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cacti where they live. Dried cochineal bugs create a vibrant crimson dye, and were used to create the red color of the English army's coats at the time of the Revolutionary War, says Rhodes, who needed the bugs to restore an antique he was working on. He's also made dyes from walnut hulls cooked in lye, another old method.

Rhodes is working on launching a website for his company, the Finish Wizard. Until then, you can contact him through his sales rep at
214-418-5881 or email him directly at