Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sigillum Salomonis (Nodo di Salomone)

First of all, I wanted to thank anyone who might have called the Vatican this weekend and put in some good words for me, maybe called in some favors or something like that, because I have approval now to go on the Scavi Tour to see the gravesites under St. Peter's Cathedral!

This has been another busy weekend of mosaic making. I'm in a race with the contractor to finish my 'step spotter' mosaics. In addition to cups and grape leaves I've added lyres, which are harp-like things, basically the 'electric guitar' of 2000 years ago. I wonder if bands back then smashed their lyres after the concerts?

Also new are tridents (which are uncomfortably close to looking like dinner forks), and a close copy of an ancient 'Solomon knot' (top step, the one with interlocking links). You can kind of get a sense of what I have in mind for the layout with the picture below.

The photo below is of a 1700 year old 'Solomon knot' I took in an Italian cathedral. In my mosaic copy I stayed very true to these colors, using blue jasper and other semiprecious and rare stones.

The Solomon knot, or 'sigillum Salomonis' if you are MJenks / native Latin speaker, is a very old symbol. I like to think of it as the world's first 'M.C. Escher' style drawing. But, maybe a very simple 'For Dummies' style version of Escher?
It is found across many ancient and somewhat unrelated cultures. To some, it is supposed to signify eternity. To others, faith across all religions. The symbol has been associated of course with a King Solomon in the Bible, a son of King David. According to the account there, Solomon descended into some bad behavior and paid the price for it with the breakup of his kingdom.

Jumping to a completely different subject, and this is a bad picture, but my marble sign has been set in the spa wall (the stone around it is wet and appears darker, normally it is bright white plus the sun wasn't casting shadows on the letter the right way).

I was so paranoid it was going to get dropped or something right before it was done. But it's all good now. I'm entertaining the idea of gilding the insides of the letter forms or maybe casting actual bronze letters like they did 2000 years ago, but I think I'll wait until everything is done before I do that.


  1. Can't wait till this is finished to see what it all looks like as the one piece. It's just fantastic so far, Eric.

  2. I think you'll feel like royalty swimming in that pool, dear sir. And as for being approved to join the tour to the gravesites: your lovely handwork must've had something to do with it.
    Hurry those contractors along: we're all dying to see the end result!

    Una bella giornata per voi :)

  3. Awesome eric! That solomon knot is incredible, I hope it lands you 700 wives and 300 concubines!

  4. No need to thank me for putting in that call for you, Eric. I work in mysterious ways. Just hope you enjoy those gravesites, my good man.

    In other news: your pool is looking positively palatial so far! It's going to be bloody spectacular when it's all done.

  5. Congrats on your approval. I can't wait to hear all about it.

    And the sign looks great!

    As for the big banana...had to share it with several others. But I was the last to fall off!

  6. HOORAY for the Scavi Tour approval! You are definitely bringing a little (or a lot) of Italy to Texas with that wonderful pool: your marble sign is the cherry on the cake.

    ps. Since nobody else is saying it (hello why is nobody paying attention?): you are a hunk Mr. casual/awkward.

  7. You're welcome, the Pope & I are old mates from way back.

    Also, I really like the Solomon's knot and from what I can see the trident is very tridenty and not too forked up. ; )

    PS - Dutch Donut Girl - some of us have to be quiet and let a single girl to say it!
    ; )

  8. Your pool is going to look amazing. And it must be like a little bit of Italy in the middle of Texas at your place. :) Your oasis.

    You know, I want to attempt something mosaic in the future and when I do I'm going to squeeze you for tips. Yes I am.

  9. Tennyson,
    Thanks, I can't wait until it's done either! But I'll have to get marble for the deck before I can say it's truly done.

    I'd like to think the mosaic might have had the smallest influence, but you never know.
    No! I need the contractors to slow down so I have more time to get done...
    ps - e buonasera per voi, ciaaaoo!

    Mr. C.,
    Thanks, I don't know 700 and 300 sounds like at times it would be more of a curse than a benefit. :)

    Peach Tart,
    You are too kind, I hope I can find a non-slippery finish on some good deck marble soon or I might have to mosaic 1200 sq ft.

    Girl With the Pink Teacup,
    Ohhh... Well it was you then! Thanks very much, it's just so much history there.
    I hope it will look good, I need to get the bronze couch legs made so I can start constructing the ancient style couches.

    Thanks, you can bet I'll be blogging about the experiences!
    And thanks for the thumbs up on the sign.
    Oh, I bet it's a personal watercraft then... that clears things up ; )

    Dutch Donut Girl,
    Thanks, it will look a bit like Italy after I'm done.
    Haha, thanks. I think I have awkward down...

    Soda and Candy,
    Oh you made the call too for me, awesome, it worked!
    Thanks for the vote of confidence on the forks too, I've been a bit self concious about them.
    : )

    Vegetable Assassin,
    Yes, oasis is a good way to put it. Ahh, ancient ruins of Italy, just outside.
    Seriously, let me know if I can suggest any technical ideas for your mosaic. I do my little mosaics and have a tiny bit of experience, but I can also ask some of my mosaic friends any questions you might have and they are the best mosaic artists in the world (no exaggeration, they get mentioned in books, etc).

  10. Oh, it looks fabulous! So classy. Congrats!

  11. I'm just soooo impressed by the amount you acheive - and it's looking great - and thrilled to hear about the permission Yay!

  12. I wish I had that kind of pull...

    This looks awesome.

  13. Very nice! What are you tiling the bottom with again? I think you should make another marble sign that says "Please do not pee in the pool" in Latin.

  14. Left you something pretttttty

  15. LiLu,
    Thank you, I can't wait to get the couches made at the bronze foundry and maybe carve a few life sized statues for fun.

    I can't believe they gave permission, and thanks.

    You have quite a few followers, I imagine you exert some influence over the church. :)

    I don't have the kind of time to tile the whole thing in mosaic. I do know a professional mosaic lady that is going to do her entire pool. Maybe I can get permission to post her pictures here when she's done.
    I like the idea about the no pee sign in Latin! I'll get cracking on that soon.


  16. I believe the Solomon Knot was also used by the Persians in their pools, and translates as a sign saying "No diving, bombing or heavy petting".

  17. The Jules,
    Oh, ok it's more useful than I thought. So it doesn't just mean 'no peeing'...

  18. Your marble sign looks awesome in your pool.

    I can't wait to see the final product...are you having a pool-warming party...and are all your blog friends invited? heh heh