Arcadia and Multipurpose Designs

Millard Sheets Studio and Ravenna Mosaic Company, mosaic for Home Savings, Arcadia, 1959-1960. Image courtesy of M. Danko.

Millard Sheets Studio and Ravenna Mosaic Company, mosaic detail for Home Savings, Arcadia, 1959-1960. Image courtesy of M. Danko.

Working backward a bit in time, the Ravenna Mosaic Company records for the Arcadia mosaic, completed 1959-1960, show a similar discussion about Sheets’s planned mosaic methods–as well as a desire to multiply the use of these designs.

In a January 25, 1960, letter, with Millard Sheets out of the country, Mary Dane records suggestions he relayed via Susan Lautmann (later Hertel):

“1. No outline on arms or legs — use none at all.
2. Use a little more variety in the rythm [sic] of the tesserae.
3. Follow the patterns. We will send you a slide of the kind of thing we have been doing when we send you the next decoration to be executed.
4. If possible, use larger pieces of tesserae mixed in with the smaller ones for more variety.”

This suggests the discussion between Ravenna Mosaic Company and the Sheets Studio was ongoing, about having their vision expressed completely–and it confirms there was some “thing we have been doing,” suggesting some of the mosaics were being made in California at this stage. (Perhaps tesserae purchase orders from this period, if they exist, could confirm it.)

And then there was the possibilities of reuse. As Sheets concluded an October 13, 1959 offer letter, “I am particularly anxious that you preserve carefully the original color cartoon as it is possible I will want to send this design to France to be executed in a tapestry.” Thus, even before his 1963 Loyola Marymount tapestry and those that followed, Sheets was exploring the possibilities of various media for his designs (probably in concert with Martha Menke Underwood‘s textile work).

Millard Sheets Studio and Ravenna Mosaic Company, mosaic for Home Savings, Arcadia, 1959-1960. Image courtesy of M. Danko.

Millard Sheets Studio and Ravenna Mosaic Company, mosaic for Home Savings, Arcadia, 1959-1960. Image courtesy of M. Danko.

One thought on “Arcadia and Multipurpose Designs

  1. Adam- So Martha was the connection to Aubusson….As a further piece of the puzzle I also read in a transcript of an interview with Arthur and Jean Ames that Millard introduced them to the possibilities of Aubusson, where they then had several tapestries made–most notably the ones for Garrison Theater.

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