hide menu

Meeting New Ravenna at KBIS
“Ye shall know the truth”

An entertaining read reposted from CFT411  – Cabinet and Furniture Trends and Information

I’m going to break several self-imposed rules today, the first of which is “thou shalt not steal from another blog,” which I am going to do today, simply because it is such a wonderful way of introducing you to a person I was able to meet in person while at KBIS. I had actually met Sara Baldwin earlier, but just through her work. NO. that’s not how that sentence should read! “Just through her work” sounds like a consolation prize, and it wasn’t that way at all. It was my distinct PRIVILEGE to first meet Sara through her work. I first wrote about Sara and New Ravenna in a blog I entitled, “A Mighty Wind.”

Custom Acanthus kitchen backsplash in Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Spinel, Mica glass (New Ravenna Mosaics)

What most interested me about Sara’s work was, well, everything pretty much, so getting a chance to sit down and chat for a while with the mastermind behind that venture was really a most interesting half hour. It was the last day of KBIS, the last hour of it, in fact, and by then my dogs were barking, so when they offered the chair beside her, I didn’t hesitate! KBIS by then was definitely running down, so we were able to talk the whole time without interruptions and without a lot of background noise. It was as though whatever Fates there may be wanted to give me a chance to learn more about one of my favorite subject matters.

Regular readers of these blogs know how much I love tile. I don’t think there is a room in one’s home that would not benefit from a judicious application of tile, maybe even an entire wall or two given over to tile. It can be a backsplash or a centerpiece; it can line a shower surround, cover a countertop, or make a glorious floor. It can brighten, enlighten, and enliven any room in which it resides. In saying that, though, I most emphatically exclude the tile in my own home from that praise. Like every tract home that ever was, really, the builders of it went out and got the very best twenty-nine-cents tile they could find. It is flat, four-inch, monochrome tile, and just to add insult to injury, the color used throughout is white: wonderful, pedestrian, nondescript, stick-in-the-mud, noncontroversial white with just an occasional touch of ivory piping to really set it off. Man, I’ll tell you.

But one of the glories of re-doing one’s home is the freedom to do with it as one will, which brings us to what I really want to discuss with this blog, Sara Baldwin and her New Ravenna Mosaics. Tile in any medium enthralls me, but one of the more fascinating aspects of it is this whole field of mosaics, and especially so in this day and age. Face it now, we live in the days of instant gratification. They won’t teach cursive writing in school anymore because kids start mashing keys on computer keyboards before they learn how to read! How those kids are ever going to really get an education in such glories as creative writing, or any other kind of art requiring perseverance and discipline is beyond me. But I digress.

Anyone who creates in ceramic tile moves a mountain in a lot of regards because of what is required to make that sort of thing, but a mosaic requires a truly astounding amount of work to make it happen. We were sitting in front of one of her mosaics while I was talking to Sara (that’s it in the picture of Sara at KBIS), and at one point she used it to illustrate what is required to make such a thing. Making a copy of the work would go fairly quickly-in mosaic tile terms-five or six weeks, I believe she said, but the original, because it was original, had taken the better part of six months. One goes through several drawings until the concept is ready for the actual tiling. One then chooses colors, finds tiles to cut up, cuts up said tiles (and even though they have machines to help with that portion of thing, the amount of required work is still nothing short of staggering), blends them into the pattern floating around in one’s head, and then, at long last, begins laboriously gluing them in place, one at a time, because for all the advances they have made in the field, there is still no other way of doing this part of the work. And finally it is finished. Maybe. Sara pointed to a portion on the mosaic we were discussing that had not suited her when it was finished. She had then broken out chisel and mallet, removed a few dozen pieces, and re-glued it with pieces that better suited the vision she’d had when she designed the piece.

And that, in turn, leads me to the pictures in this blog, every one of which has been stolen from a blog Sara wrote on the subject. She titled it, “Culinary Trophies,” which relates to the still life paintings that were once done of peasant and other game, the idea being that it was a hunting trophy destined for the dinner table. It’s a motif that is sometimes used in kitchen backsplashes, although the latter now often employs various vegetables and spices, or, as it would be if my wife commissioned it, chili peppers. Having used Sara’s pictures and her research on culinary trophies, I am now going to compound the crime and steal an entire paragraph from her blog; in it Sara writes about the germination of the project that is the subject of today’s blog. Although I must again point out that it was the subject of Sara’s blog first! Here’s Sara:

“When Tom Broderick from The Cabinetry in Sylvania, Ohio went to Virginia Tile in Troy, Michigan (just north of Detroit) to source a back splash for his clients, his initial inspirations were from classic Culinary Trophies. In fact, he introduced me to the catchy term. While at Virginia Tile, he was attracted to a New Ravenna glass mosaic concept board depicting a blue bird on a branch. Virginia Tile called us, and they used New Ravenna’s team to clarify Tom’s vision of a glass mosaic culinary trophy above a blue La Cornue stove. After finalizing the design, colorway, and receiving the paper template, Bobby, one of our star mosaicists, was tasked with the job of bringing Tom’s vision to life.”

Seeing the amount of work that is required to make a single mosaic, it is not hard to understand why Sara now has some 150 people working for her at New Ravenna Mosaics. Of course, the sticking point in that sentence is the realization that she did not begin with 150, but with only one-and a dream. Given the caliber of artistry in this mosaic which now graces a kitchen made infinitely more elegant by the addition of something so sublime, it is also not hard to understand how a company that began so modestly could become so large in so short a time. Truth will out, they say. So will talent.

Leave a Reply

Overstock Mosaics

Continue to our overstock store to shop:

  • Special Mosaics
  • Surplus Whole Stone Tile
  • Surplus Glass Tile
  • Accessories and mirrors from our photo studio
Continue to our overstock shop Return to newravenna.com for our full offering of custom and ready to ship mosiacs