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Items of note from last week’s Coverings in Orlando, FL

On 01, May 2010 | One Comment | In Artists, Et cetera | By man-admin

As promised, here’s a post from guest blogger Paul Anater of Take it away, Paul . . .

When Nancie heard that I was attending Coverings, the tile and stone trade show in Orlando, she asked that I keep en eye out for trends, ideas and manufacturers who would be of interest to the audience of Mosaic Art NOW. While Coverings is by no means an art exhibit, there is a great deal of creativity at work.

I am a kitchen and bath designer by trade and I use a fair amount of these manufacturers’ products every year. I’m also a big supporter of mosaics as art (see my article To Work without Fear in the current issue of Mosaic Art NOW). Given the option, I’ll commission original work for a project but I don’t always have the option. It’s a good idea for fine art mosaicists to know what’s developing on the commercial side and that’s why I’m here today.

Of the hundreds of exhibitors from around the world who were at Coverings, five stood out to me as being worthy of note here.

The first is an Italian company, Mosaico+. Mosaico+ manufactures field mosaics in glass. metal, stone and now wood. Ordinarily, they supply their products in sheets, but they do sell their mosaic tiles as loose pieces in a variety of sizes.

Their booth was covered on four sides by what appeared to be pixelated pop art prints but upon closer inspection, these Warholian images were indeed made from glass mosaic tile.

Upon even closer inspection, it was clear that they individual mosaics tiles were single color, translucent glass from their usual collections.

Inside, I saw these sheeted, field mosaics that used a combination of glass and wood tiles. Mixing materials like glass, stone, wood and metal was a recurring theme through all of the commercial makers of mosaics this year. There’s an eclecticism at work on the leading edge of the commercial side of the business. The high end determines what ends up at the consumer level so expect to see more commercial applications of wood.

Terra Viva is an Italian company that recently relocated to Abu Dhabi and they make traditionally Byzantine mosaic patterns out of a combination of semi-precious stone and terra cotta.

The stone is cut with a water jet so it’s very precise, but the combination of the water jetted stone and terra cotta softens the effect and it keeps Terra Viva’s work from looking mechanical and sterile as is so often the case when it comes to water jetted stone. It’s usually too perfect but not in this case. Terra Viva uses new cutting technology and combines it with downright primitive materials and the final effect is as warm as it is luxurious.

From Beirut came Phoenecian Arts, the only purveyor of hand cut smalti mosaics to show at Coverings this year. Their work is performed by skilled artisans in a workshop in Lebanon and they are distributed in the US by a sales office in Miami, FL.

Though Phoenician Arts showed smalti mosaics at coverings, they also work in stone, glass and ceramic. Their work is all fully-custom and it arrives on a nylon mesh backer for installation anywhere.

After walking through a trade show that took up 400,000 square feet of exhibit space and filled nearly every square inch of it with porcelain and ceramic floor and wall tile, seeing smalti again was a real relief!

The folks behind Phoenician Arts were helpful and passionate about their work. Their website is terrific and it’s well worth it to spend some time looking over it.

The finest stone and glass mosaics available commercially are the work of New Ravenna Mosaics in Exmore, VA. New Ravenna unveiled two new collections at Coverings from a suite in the nearby Peabody hotel. New Ravenna’s work is exquisite, there’s no other word to describe it.

New Ravenna is Sara Baldwin’s labor of love. Sara’s a laughing whirlwind who’s intimately involved in every aspect of that company and who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.

New Ravenna had only worked in stone until recent years when they started experimenting with art glass. Sometimes, the glass stands alone and sometimes it’s combined with natural stone. The effect is always the same, complex patterns that belie their complexity. Virtually all of New Ravenna’s field patterns are available to see on their website and it’s worth the time to look over their collections.

Though not a typical mosaic, I’d call this a mosaic never the less.

The chandelier above was in a booth that belonged to Levantina y Asociados Minerales in Spain. Levantina is a stone supplier and exporter and that chandelier is one of the most clever things I saw at the show.

That’s a water jetted shadow of a chandelier. The negative image was jetted out of the field and then a positive in a darker gray marble was inserted into the negative space. The light bulbs are flame shaped LED lights and the whole thing has been grouted into place and it was perfectly flat. There was no dimension to it at all and it really got me thinking.

LED technology is all over the place now and it often gets thrown into objects just because it’s new. That chandelier represents what I think is the best use of LED I’ve seen in ages. Who says that a light fixture can’t be part of the wall itself? And what could a real mosaic artist do with LEDs that the technical minds of a stone importer can’t? Everybody sees mosaics made with glass, smalti, stone and clay. Is there a place for a new material, light, in the world of fine art mosaics?

I’d love to see it.

Thanks Paul!

Enjoy — Nancie

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  1. George

    Paul – as a reward for all the miles you walked, you definitely came up with some treasures. Thanks for sharing these. Surprised that Kolorines/Perdomo didn't have anything that jumped out.

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