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Sara Baldwin Designs Blog

Win a Free Rare Book

or, Rome: If you want to, part II

Come on, sing it with me!

New Ravenna introduced a texture in 1996 we call “Roman African” in honor of Tunisian mosaics that stayed when the Romans left. You can see some of my favorite Roman African mosaics here in part I of this blog post. The aged texture we reproduce today mimics the style and finish of mosaics that were de rigueurin Roman times–in all parts of their empire, not just Africa. Here are some examples of our work which use this texture:

First up is a table top that we did for Hugh Newell Jacobsen. He received it, unpacked it, and much to my relief pronounced it “brilliant” in addition to using an adjective that rhymes with “ducking”. It later appeared in Architectural Digest, and my brilliant marketing guru Christine actually found the tear sheet. Thanks Christine!

Please do not try this at home, but we used acid to age this table a bit more after installation, ditto for the next set of photos below:

 (New Ravenna Mosaics)

Custom Roman African shower in hand chopped marble mosaic tesserae (New Ravenna Mosaics)

I went to Chicago to supervise the installation of this fantastic floor, designed by Sandy Eskin and sold through the incredibly talented team at The Fine Line.(Check out that expertly frescoed wall! I wish the photos did it justice.)

The Fine Line really does a superb job of marketing this texture. Here we have a wine cellar floor that they also sold:

 (New Ravenna Mosaics)

However, it’s not necessary to cover an entire floor to give your kitchen a bit of bacchanalian flavor–here’s a small medallion you could inlay over your stove:

Or use a border or two around an area that is tranquil in the middle:

And the style need not be Mediterranean–I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–mosaic tesserae are like paints. They can work in any size or shape or nationality of house–would you ever say to a client, “No, you don’t want to use paintings–paintings are so…Dutch!”? The concept board below was inspired by a design in a famous English house–and we can produce line drawings for you where we adapt the general foliated scroll idea into any size or shape space–the more asymmetrical, the better.

I used this same texture in my own master bath floor and shower–in a more modern way:

Name: Mist 1.0 cm (hand chopped-tumbled) Style: Metamorphosis Product Number: CB0622 Description: Mist 1.0 cm in Blue Macauba, Kay's Green, Celeste, Ming Green, Lettuce Ming (hct) (New Ravenna Mosaics)

See the rest of the bathroom in one of my first blog posts here.

The best, most beautiful book on Tunisian mosaics is called “Mosaics of Roman Africa”, and we bought a case of them when it was published in 1996 and sold them to our showrooms to support our product. If you look carefully at the upper left hand corner of the images below,

you’ll see what we were referencing when we made this sample:

18 1/2" x 31" Neptune in hand chopped tumbled Verde Luna, Botticino, Nero Marquina, Travertine Noce, Rosa Verona, Persian Gold, Aegean Brown, Bardiglio, Giallo Real, Red Lake (New Ravenna Mosaics)

When conceiving this blog post, I thought to myself, “wouldn’t it be nice to give one of these gorgeous books away to readers and encourage comments and discussion?”. And I remembered being introduced to the entertaining blogger Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design because he was giving away an Alessi tea-kettle–I am still in mourning because I did not win–and I have really enjoyed interacting with him. So off I clicked to Amazon to buy one of these beautiful books. Imagine my surprise when I saw that only 1 new book was available to purchase for a paltry $400. The used ones were almost $300! I mean, there are over 250 full color images inside this over-sized volume, but still…

Good thing I had Plan B. We just happen to have three copies of said fantabulous coffee-table-rare-book at New Ravenna (okay, they aren’t new, but they aren’t in terrible shape either). Not needing three copies, we’ll simply give one of ours away–apparently it’s still worth about $300. Simply make a comment below, and I’ll enter you in the competition. Thanks so much for reading.

Last but not least I couldn’t resist showing this last layout that I am sure kept the graphic designers entertained during boring mock-up sessions :)

42 Responses to “Win a Free Rare Book”

  1. Pick me, pick me!!! I want to win so badly. I would love to have this book to show to clients. It would be awesome to show them just what can be done (by you I might add!). Your sample torch is gorgeous and pays a great deal of respect to the original. I know we already talk but pick me anyway :)
    Paula Grace ~
    P.S. I'll tweet this too!

  2. Paul Anater says:

    Oh man, this stuff speaks to me on a level so basic I can't find words for it. I love how you describe this Roman-style tesserae mosaic as a form that works independently of architecture or nationality. It's all wonderful and thanks for keeping it a viable and dynamic art form. Cheers!

  3. Julie Richey says:

    What, is it between the three of us?! Um, how about this: I first saw you and (your sister?) in a design magazine, carrying out a huge Eve mosaic and laughing all the way. At exactly the same time, my friend Laura and I were delivering our "Eve in the Garden" table in opus sectile to a client in Atlanta. Synchronicity?

    My first ever mosaic project, in 1991, was a Pompeian fish floor for a friend in Houston. So I'm with you on the Roman diaspora. What's great about this book is that it seems to contain unusual images – many I've never seen in 25 years as an art history major and mosaicist. I'm so tired of seeing the same Cane Cavem and Vatican sea monsters. Tho they are fab.

    Take care! Your work is beautiful.

  4. Okay, all the mosaic-lovers raise your hands. Me!

    I've ones on Pompeii and Cirencester, but that's a drool-worthy book for sure.

  5. Gorgeous, gorgeous. Those Romans left some good stuff behind. – I love your bathroom floor too

  6. Brilliant work, Sara, and the images from the book are fabulous! Thanks for coming up with the contest idea (quite generous!) and I hope I win!!
    -Dianne Sonnenberg Mosaics

  7. Monica Zinda says:

    A beautiful book and an impressive collection of work! I would dearly love a copy to add to my library. So useful for inspiration.
    Thank you!

  8. Ruth Ballard says:

    Please pick me! (Yes, I will beg , LOL) I am new to mosaics. This is the kind of mosaic art that I would like to do, and am trying to learn all I can about this truly inspiring form of expression. I promise I will study it until I have every tesserae placement memorized– that means everyday for a long, long, long time. And if I ever get good enough to share this art form with students, which is my intent, I'll share the book with them, too. So the book will be in good hands, (My husband will disown me if I bought a book that expense! LOL) Ruth Ballard

  9. modernemama says:

    I can't tell you how much I adore the fish – there's a quality of movement in the work that surpasses any similar mosaic I've seen – fabulous.

  10. Mel's Spot says:

    Obviously, Pick Me. I live in Africa, on the Southern tip that is, and if I win this book it will be like bringing the essence of Mosaic back to the continent. And we need as much beauty and art here as possible.
    I'm a mosaic artist and hope to bring Mosaic out from hiding in the 'craft cupboard' to being acknowledged and accepted as an Art form in South Africa.
    I'm presently studying at Orsoni for 2 phenomenal weeks, and on my return to SA I have my first students waiting to move into the divine world of making magic with little pieces.
    Mel Miller

  11. Gorgeous book and would be so inspiring! The mosaics on the isle of Delos also remind me of these. Such wonder that was created by human hands – no waterjet or machines. Still the best way.
    Thank you for keeping the tradition alive and especially for us in the US.

  12. David Nolan says:

    Great post Sara and I hope that you will find it in your heart to pick me.

    I only have one point of contention with your post above: my opinion is, if you are going to try acid, try it at home, and only at home.

  13. Please to put this Roman mosaic fanatic into the hat, too, Sara.

    Great post. It's not often that I see a mosaic artist explain a project from inspiration to executions to installation so thoroughly and succinctly. It is the kind of stuff that designers love to take to their clients. Stories. Nothing sells like a good story. And you've got bunches.

  14. Maureen says:

    I started learning about mosaics after a post at Mosaic Art Now. I keep finding treasures. Today is no different. I've landed another with glimpses into the wonderful book you show here and New Ravenna's gorgeous work (I've sent its link around). I just wish I'd thought of mosaics for the backsplash when we were doing our renovation 7 years ago. Another time.
    Thanks for a quick peek at beauty.

  15. Sara Baldwin says:

    HA! That's hilarious David.
    Wow, I am so happy that we've gotten such a great response so far to the book give-away! Thank you guys for all the fab comments–just like I always suspected, bribery and incentive apparently go a long way!
    Stay tuned, I'll be drawing a name from a hat in about a week.

  16. sarah says:

    that is a gorgeous book. i just returned from a visit to portugal & was amazed by the roman mosaics at Conimbriga. unfortunately there were no books available in english, & other books were text heavy & light on pics…
    thanks for the opportunity.

  17. Karen Quam says:

    At night, in my sleep, I have beautiful, fantasy-filled dreams about mosaics.

  18. This is the sort of book for which I'd clear shelf space in my library! And thinking ahead for all of us that don't win it, would you post more pictures from it to share?

  19. Anabella says:

    Wow, that seems to be a beautiful book! What a nice thing you are doing! Love the way you used the texture in a modern setting. New Ravenna's work is beautiful!

  20. Brie says:

    I love the way the mosaic works its way through the room almost requiring you to explore in order to see the completion of the work!

  21. Marissa says:

    that peacock that inspired your love affair is brilliant! i love how you've adapted the old world roman mosaic styles to meet todays contemporary market with your mist. mist was always one of my favorites and I am in the process of selling a stunning bathroom using the mist and tatami mist for a client – I will be sure to send you and Meredith images once its complete!
    i'd love to be entered into the competition to win this stunning book! :)
    Marissa @ urban archaeology

  22. Sara Baldwin says:

    Thanks for all your comments guys! It makes my day to interact with all of you like this. Julie, LOVE your work and your website. Patrick, I will certainly post more photos, and in the meantime, my last post–part 1 of this blog theme–included some more pics from this book.

  23. This book looks like a real treasure. Gorgeous.

  24. Rob KJ says:

    Would love to be considered for give away – working on a new house here in Dallas. Thank you.

  25. catherine says:

    It doesn't get any better than a beautiful mosaic! The time, the talent and the inspiration. New Ravenna is the most artistic company I work with, it's mind blowing what you guys do. I dapple in mosaics, so would love the book. Thanks for considering me.
    Catherine @ Monmouth St. Tile

  26. DesignTies says:

    I don't know if your giveaway is still open, but even if it isn't, I have to leave comment to say that your mosaic work is simply stunning!!! The fish mosaic table is amazing, and the room that it's in is gorgeous. And I absolutely LOVE what you did with your shower, Dave or no Dave!! ;-)

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  27. Hi Sara,

    I'm back! This time I want to invite you to participate in aparty I am hosting.

    Beginning Feb 2nd, I am hosting a party every Tuesday on all timeless classis things ~ interior design, fashion, special occassions and entertaining, art, ….. Your beautiful designs fit right in!

    Your blog is one of my classics now so I hope you and your readers join the party.

    Here is a link to let you know more about it ~ http://paulagracedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/01/timeless-tuesday.html

    Looking forward to seeing you and your readers there!

    Paula Grace ~

  28. Hi Sarah,

    It's been a real pleasure finding out about you and New Ravenna. We have a somewhat similar story. Our love for mosaic started on our first trip to Tuscany 10 years ago. Montepulciano, Siena, Orvieto and so many more. It connected a lot of dots. Suddenly the floor of the V&A; in London had perspective, something we had taken for granted our whole life, had real meaning to us. Every trip to europe and North Africa becomes a pilgrimage. Last summer in the Dordogne, we visited Montcaret, which was beautiful.

    That one trip inspired us to start our own small business and it has been a rewarding journey.

    So, it's always nice to connect with another person who feels the same as we do about this art form, and keep it alive for future generations.

    PS That sure is a beautiful book ;) A consideration from your furthest away fan.

    The Craft Company

  29. In Detail says:

    Beautiful mosaics! And what a great incentive to get comments :) I may have to use your idea…

    Great Blog!!

  30. Sara – Hi. I wasn't sure of your email but glad you saw the post. I'm going to an event Thursday night at Architectural Ceramics so I'm hoping to see some of your tiles in person. The Beaumonde in glass sounds exquisite!

  31. I need inspiration for another order!

    What is so great is that the same images in the book were not torn up during the Dark Ages or Byzantine rule. It was believed unholy to depict God's creatures. "Old" Ravenna, Italy, enjoyed autocephalous status and did not have to answer to the Roman Church, so mosaics were also spared.

  32. Michelle Toleos says:

    This is such a fantastic book. I would love to have a copy. I am a art history fanatic. So many people forget about the mosaics and only remember the paintings. What a treasure this would be.

  33. Anonymous says:

    AMAZING book… makes me want to go back to Rome.. or plan a trip to Tunisia!! Ahhh….Dreaming : ) Great Blog Sara, thanks for sharing and congratulations! ~Adrienne @ Urban Archaeology.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I would love if you picked me, I was always last picked in gym, so if I was first picked, it might stop my night terrors.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Wow! What a great reference book to have on hand! Going back to Rome and seeing these amazing mosaics firsthand is absolutely breathtaking. Would love to go back in time and watch them make these masterpieces.
    – Lisa @ Materials Marketing – Dallas

  36. Molika says:

    What a beautiful book and wonderful blog post! We truly appreciate all the care and detail you put into to your mosaics. New Ravenna offers exceptional beauty to the design community.

  37. Meredith says:

    Last annonymous….. state your name for the drawing!!!! :) :) :)

  38. Jim Krywko says:

    These images are awesome, I would love this book!

  39. Sara Baldwin says:

    Okay…the comments are all in–we'll be announcing the winner today (Sunday)…and a special thanks to Avalon, NS Ceramics, Monmouth St. Tile, Urban Archaeology, Norberry Tile, Materials Marketing–you guys are the best distributors ever, especially since I know some of you had to access this blog at home because it was technically not available at work. Mel and Julie, I am jealous of your Orsoni experiences! Someday, sigh…Thanks again everyone! Someone will definitely enjoy this book.

  40. gueuzeman says:

    Well, looks like I'm too late but I don't really want the book, I'd rather install them and post the video on youtube. I'm here because I just got an email from Christine after she saw a room I did a while back on youtube.

    As to African/Roman mosaics, I did see a few in Algeria and Morrocco. And there was that trip to the Musee'et site archeologique St. Romain en Gaul in Vienne, France.

    Thanks for giving me fun things to play with!

    Jim Garbe- Renaissance Ceramic & Stone, Inc.

  41. Sara Baldwin says:

    Congratulations Kelly at Kitchen Sync!!! You are the proud new owner of the best (out-of-print) book on Roman African mosaics of all time! See the next post for photos of the nail-biting choice of names in the hat…er…kitchen bowl.
    Thanks so much everyone for your thoughts and comments, and on behalf of New Ravenna, your COMPLIMENTS. I've been to your web-sites and would love to visit and/or meet all of you. I'd especially love to go visit the Craft Company in Pakistan:) Or Mel at the southern tip of Africa (I had a dream once that I was teaching mosaics in South Africa). But alas, I will be leaving tomorrow for New York, where I'll stop by the Gift Show and also visit some of our hard-working distributors–you know who you are!

  42. Well we are just enjoying our tatami backsplash in our kitchen with the custom inset stainless steel bumble bees for good luck. Probably your most recent installation considering it is Easter and they are coming back to seal it on Monday. Love it!
    Richard Williams, now kitchen designer

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About Me

Sara BaldwinSara Baldwin

Exmore, Virginia, United States

New Ravenna Mosaics founder and Creative Director, Owner, Sara Baldwin Design, Bass guitar player, Envisioner, Appreciator of the Sublime and Ridiculous.


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