how to make a mosaic
- Beginning your mosaic project: terminology and design
- Types of tesserae
- Tips on mosaic materials
- Step-by-step guide to techniques: direct and indirect methods
- Outdoor mosaics: How to site a mosaic in an architectural space
- List of books and references
- Making a mosaic: Health & Safety Advice
Click on Contents chapter headings for further details
1. beginning your mosaic project
Mosaic is an ancient and contemporary art form which uses individual pieces of materials placed together leaving gaps between to create a unified whole. The materials commonly used are glass, ceramic, marble, pebble, mirror, shells and china.
The term for each piece of material is tesserae. The term for the spaces in between where the grout goes is the interstices.
Andamento is the word used to describe the movement and flow of tesserae.
The way in which the pieces are cut and placed varies and is known as the 'opus', the Latin for 'work'.
Opus tessellatum: Tesserae laid in regular straight lines like bricks
Opus regulatum: Vertical and horizontal lines in regular grid
Opus Vermiculatum: Flowing lines of tesserae wriggling over the surface
Opus musivum: Vermiculatum used totally over image and background
Opus Palladianum: Irregular fitting shapes like crazy paving
Rough drawing of town crest on wall, projected in charcoal onto board.
Drawing: Simple works best. A very basic line drawing is all you need. You could enlarge or reduce images on the photocopier, cut out and draw round them or create a collage to copy if you think you can't draw but you can! Remember the beauty of mosaic is the material we use. Let them help make your decisions about design. Have an idea about where to start and begin rather than labouring over the whole design. Inspiration will come when you start working.
Contrast: This is the key to creating a strong piece of work; between image and background, border and central image, within images and patterns to create fine definitions and strong outlines. Check the following points on contrast:
Size: Large enough to give impact and small enough to give detail
Colour: Areas of strong definite colour against each other give strength to the design, shades of one colour give vibrational quality and depth
Texture: Create textures by combining different quality materials. For example, put matt and glazed ceramic together to create tones of a colour or reconstruct the patterning on broken china to create interest.
Technical consideration: The choice of tesserae will depend on the project. Outdoors, be sure to use weather resistant tiles and cements. If you are creating a surface that doesn't have to be flat (not tables or floors) then tiles do not have to be the same thickness.