Sara Baldwin’s Gilt by Association

General / People / Places / Products / August 19, 2016

One of our all-time  favorite artisans is Sara Baldwin, who has a studio and operation on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She is, in fact, the largest employer in the town of Exmore, and she makes exquisite mosaics from exotic materials imported from all four corners of the earth, like the gold in this November 2014 post:

Sara Baldwin takes her cues from the best of the best.

Like Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia, that sixth-century Greek Orthodox basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum.

“It’s is my favorite building in the world,” says the owner of New Ravenna Mosaics. “I took a thousand pictures of it, and hundreds of its worn floors – just of the tile and the wear patterns on it.”

Then she put together a new collection of mosaics she calls Aurora.

“An aurora is generally a luminous glow or phenomenon in the atmosphere, whether the dawn or bands of light in a night sky,” she says.

Gold is the Aurora collection’s binding theme.

“Visually and literally, I was transfixed by the way light refracts from gilded objects, juxtaposed with the matte finishes of most of the other buildings,” she says.

She still uses plenty of blacks and whites and grays in her patterns, just as she always has. But now there’s more brass and bronze – and gold.

“It’s Italian, it’s 24 carat and it’s in the right thickness,” she says. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it was going out of style when I began, but now it’s coming back.”

Her designs for Aurora are inspired by travels to the tops of buildings not only in Istanbul, but in Paris and St. Petersburg as well.

“There’s a timelessness and sense of history about seeing things that were there thousands of years ago,” she says. “Plus the montage of all the architects who designed those buildings, and the layer upon layer of contributions over time,” she says.

So Aurora refers to the resonant atmosphere and glow of those cities, seen from above.

And besides, she says, it’s just fun to say the word.

For more, go here.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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1 Comment

on August 19, 2016

This may be my all-time favorite headline! Thank you for the great post about Sara and New Ravenna.



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