Updated September 6, 2022.
There are so many wonderful sources of great ideas out there to adapt that I keep folders of pictures on my computer and in my Pinterest albums.
Wherever the Roman legions went, they left their mark on the area one way or another. You find Roman aqueducts in Spain, a Romance (i.e. Roman) language in Eastern Europe, and, in England, floor mosaics from the time Rome ruled the island. Recently a man even found a new on in his basement! When I was in England in 1998, I fell in love with this mosaic that hangs in the Bath Museum. I thought it would make a great needlepoint piece and it did. The picture is of the finished piece, which hangs in my bedroom..
It’s one of my favorite projects ever with the strong curvy center of the design is surrounded by seven different borders, each with a different pattern in them. In addition to being a very nice design on its own, the Mosaic has lots of ideas for border designs for other work. I did it as a free project in 1998 for About.com with hand-drawn charts. But it’s too good to sit in my archives. You can buy it as a PDF project for only $9.
Today’s post will give you some background about the mosaics, including on-line resources for further exploration.
The Romans often decorated the floors of public places and villas with elaborate stone mosaics. Most of these either depicted the gods or were entirely geometric. In almost all of them you find complex geometric borders and fill patterns. In England, which stayed Roman until the Fourth Century and didn’t reach the same level of civilization again until the Eighteenth Century or so, many partial mosaics remain and have been recorded and studied. One listing of Roman Mosaics in Britain has seven pages with excellent pictures of new and reproduction Romano-British mosaics.
There is also an organization, ASPROM, devoted to the study and preservation of these mosaics. Their site has a list, with links, of many places to see Roman mosaics, a resources list, and information about news and events.
There are also books you can get on the subject, including >Geometric Patterns from Roman Mosiacs, an excellent introduction, available from Amazon. This book concentrates on the British mosaics. Another is Roman Mosaics in Britain. There are many other affordable (and expensive) ones on Roman mosaics in general.
The overall design uses a deep greenish blue and a pale terra cotta color to make the design. Small bits of gray (which matches the canvas) and darker blue (in the outermost corners) add depth to the design. Two strands of silk were used throughout.
To make the design you will need: Congress Cloth (This will give you a wide border)and silk floss. You can use any brand of stranded silk or cotton floss for these colors. Hand-dyed threads will also work, as long as they are shades of the same color, close in value, such as those from The Thread Gatherer.
The design uses Tent Stitch and Blackwork only. Since the Tent Stitches are only single or in straight lines, Continental Stitch will be the best choice. This will give the most coverage on the back and will prevent the stitches from disappearing on the canvas. If you are stitching the piece on an even weave fabric, use Cross Stitch instead of Continental.
The Blackwork on the model was done continental style, always moving the needle up in a clean hole and down in a dirty hole. You could also do this as Double Running Stitch or Backstitch. I like the thicker look this method gives Blackwork because of the greater coverage on the back.