Natural Stone Mosaics by Marc Archambault
I use natural stone to create mosaics. Instead of breaking the stones into tiny pieces – the tesserae of traditional mosaics – I use larger pieces, cut and honed into interlocking shapes. In this way I am able to show more of the stone’s character: its colors, textures, and inherent beauty. This style is similar to opus sectile, the classic Roman mosaic technique. I make these by hand, but I have the great benefit of power tools!
Stone is endlessly fascinating to me and great inspiration. I love to play with textures in my mosaics: juxtaposing water-worn pebbles and highly polished surfaces with rough, quarry-cleft faces.
The Versatility of Mosaics
Generally, art isn’t supposed to be touched, but the tactile experience of stone is important to my work. I want people to touch it, to feel the grain of the stones under their fingers. I hope that it grounds them, as it does me, connecting them to the Earth, to something timeless.
As I make my living as a stone mason building walls, patios, etc., mosaic gives me a chance to explore different aspects of stone, giving me more room to roam creatively. And I’m a bit of a tool geek; the challenge of working with such a hard, unforgiving material forces me to always try new tools and techniques. That blend of art and engineering fully engages me.
The GreenMan mosaic presides over the downstairs tasting room at the GreenMan Brewery on Asheville’s South Slope. Constructed exclusively of natural stone, it is twenty feet tall. It is primarily built of regional stones, such a marbles and sandstones from Tennessee and gneiss from North Carolina. The irises of the eyes are made of malachite, a semi-precious stone from Africa. I designed this mosaic, but the entire Hammerhead team was instrumental in fabricating the piece and installing it.
Created as a Mother’s Day gift for a family in Maryville, Tennessee,Â Yellow Wakerobin is named after the species of trillium it features.
The Boy With Antlers
This natural stone mosaic includes travertine, marble, sandstone and granite. It is 22″ by 34″. This is a personal piece inspired by a character from the bedtime stories I tell my sons. His name is Bo and he is very good at making things.
We made six of these architectural mosaics as part of the Memorial Garden at First Baptist Church of Asheville. Inspired by designs original to the building designed by Douglas Ellington, the mosaics are built into the walls surrounding the Memorial Garden.
This is a mosaic that I made for my wife, Kristin. It hangs in our home as a memorial to her father, Louis, who passed away last year. Lou was one of my favorite people to hang out with when we would visit Rhode Island. He had a very successful business as an electrical contractor and there is a fraternity amongst the trades. It was easy to talk shop with him. And he was super funny, always ready with a one liner. I greatly admired him and how hard he worked to take care of his family. He had five kids, all of whom graduated college and are pretty awesome people themselves. The five pebbles represent my wife and her siblings. I gathered them on Lou’s favorite beach the day we laid him to rest. I miss him.
(4″ by 12″ and made of sandstone and beach pebbles)