Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why I'm excited to go to Coverings, part 1

Here is a lovely mosaic design by the divine Sara Baldwin:

Weeping willow design
If you're a long-time reader of my blog, by now you already know that Sara is the founder of New Ravenna Mosaics and Stone, and that I think Sara is extremely talented. What you may not know is that last year at the Art Tile Party, between her rock band's sets, she tried to convince me to start a band of my own. I'm still laughing about that idea, although the concept of trying something completely radical has stuck with me. (I'll get back to you on how that will manifest itself, after I figure it out.)

Sara is brave and I admire that about her. In addition to starting her own company and band, she's kissed a camel and can even get away with wearing a mosaic mini-dress. I'm pretty sure that qualifies her as a tile rock star.

Next month, at Coverings, I'm hoping to see Sara and her latest mosaic creations!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Starry night

It was another great night for a walk, and the stars were out...

Which reminded me of this cool glass and porcelain tile by GranitiFiandre.

And a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Les gens ont des étoiles qui ne sont pas les mêmes. Pour les uns, qui voyagent, les étoiles sont des guides. Pour d'autres elles ne sont rien que de petites lumières. Pour d'autres qui sont savants elles sont des problèmes. Pour mon businessman elles étaient de l'or. Mais toutes ces étoiles-là se taisent. Toi, tu auras des étoiles comme personne n'en a...
If you're having trouble imagining a whole floor of this, let me help you:
Jewel Collection by GranitiFiandre
These tiles come in sizes up to 24' x 24" and are available in four colors: Eclipse, Gem, Infinity, and Shine.

Bonne nuit et faites de beaux rêves!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bravery encore

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about bravery in making a commitment to tile. Making the right choice is obviously very important, since tile has the potential to last indefinitely.

Byzantine mosaic floor
This 1,500-year old mosaic was recently discovered at Hirbet Madres on the Judean Hills in Israel. These tiny tessarae represent foxes, lions, fish, and peacocks--like the one shown here. Originally, archeologists assumed the structure was a synagogue, but after the excavation revealed stones carved with crosses, they realized that it was actually a church.

About eight years ago, a friend of mine installed some very intense 2" x 2" encaustic tiles in her kitchen. I wrote an article about her house the following year. Although the editor changed my copy, making the article rather inarticulate, I thought the images were great. Here's a close up:

English encaustic tiles from a now-defunct factory

Pretty cool, huh? They wouldn't work for everybody, but my friend is very creative and these suit her fun personality and her art-filled home. It seems to me that choosing these tiles was a brave thing to do. Here they are in-situ:


That isn't actually a mosaic over the stove, it's a painting by her aunt, who happens to be a famous author. (Yes, you've heard of her, and no, I won't tell. But I will give you a hint--she writes books about brave children.;)

Recently, my friend mentioned how much she still loves her backsplash. I'm very happy for her-- especially since I helped her find those tiles in the first place!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


As you know, there are days when art, poetry, and nature take me to a happy, creative place. Then there are darker days when I just need a clean, simple place for my thoughts. On days like that, a floor like this would be perfect. (The glass curtain wall would help, too.)

Manhattan Collection by Roca Ceramica -- image from Tile of Spain

This large format porcelain is available in 18” x 18” and 24” x 24”. It comes in light and dark gray, beige, ochre and brown. All very useful for creating that minimalist floor--or blank slate--as needed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


For me, green is the color of hope.

Although it was pretty cold this morning, the sun was brilliant, and on my walk, I saw the first signs of spring. There were little green buds on the ends of a few branches and the pointy tips of crocuses were sticking up out of the ground. These tiny, pale buds seem so fragile, and yet they persevere in the bitter cold. After the dreary and frigid winter we've had, it's heartening to remember that if delicate new growth can do it--so can we!

My Canadian friends at Interstyle are probably not seeing signs of spring yet, but yesterday they did send me some nice images of their Barcode glass tile line:


What I like about this tile line is the way the color changes depending on the viewer's angle and perspective. There are so many ways to see this tile. This installation image shows what I mean:

Barcode by Interstyle

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time enjoying a Frank Stella painting at the NC Museum of Art.
Since then, I've been reading about the Color Field artists of the 60s and 70s.
Stella - Sunset Beach - 1967

Noland - Graded Exposure
These Minimalist artists were pushing back against the sensual emotionalism of the Expressionist movement. Some of the Color Field painters were focused on the use of color as a pure optical experience, devoid of meaning. Their cool disengagement is interesting, and at the same time, the compositions are aesthetically pleasing. Despite their deliberate detachment, to me, the colors they've chosen seem to express joy.

Perhaps it's because Interstyle named all the Barcode colorways after fish, but this particular tile reminds me of a river, which brings to mind a poem I like by Samuel Menashe:

     At the edge
     Of a world
     Beyond my eyes

     I know Exile
     Is Always
     Green with hope--
     The river
     We cannot cross
     Flows forever 

Which reminds me of yet another artist from the Minimalist movement, Larry Poons.

Poons - Vespers - 1979
These same pale greens in the tile, and in the center of the Poons, are the shades I noticed heralding spring's imminent arrival this morning.

Speaking of new growth represented by tile, this tile looks like the unfurling of a fiddlehead fern. (Yes, I know it's supposed to be an acanthus, but humor me.)

A dear friend, Lilyan, in Guatemala makes these beautiful tiles:

Topis Tile available at Wholesale Tile by Aguayo

 See what I mean?
Fiddlehead Fern
 OK, so here's the acanthus and you can decide:

William Morris wallpaper

Another tile artist, Linda Ellett, of L'esperance Tile Works in New York, sent me an image of a new installation this week. I love the richness of the blue-green glaze and how there's a range of color across each of the field tiles. I'd like to think that the sun is rising on this backsplash.

L'esperance Tile Works
As Alexander Pope said, "Hope springs eternal."