Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mosaics in Greece

Pebble mosaics

In some archeological sites, remains of mosaic-like works have been excavated. The remains dated back as early as 4th millennium BC. It was from the Sumerians living in South Mesopotamia.

The mosaic-like work consisted of clay, onyx, and cockleshells and it was found in the temple of Ouruk. In the Greek area of west Asia Minor, rubble floors were also found. It shows that the Greeks somehow knew about the art.

Another area in Greece, in Olinthos, natural pebbles was used to decorate the drawings. Such drawings were inspired by the ancient myths. A floor mosaic was found which dates back to 432-348 BC which shows Bellerophon slaying Chimaira while riding a Pegasus.

In Macedonia Greece, another floor mosaic was found but this time, it was made from glass pieces. According to experts, the mosaic was created in the 4th century BC.

The 2th century also showed mosaic pieces of glass, marble, and stone but this time, the mosaics were of different designs and colors.

From the Greeks, mosaics were spread to Italy, specifically in Rome and Pompeii. You can find mosaics in their baths, temples, and houses but it only utilized a certain technique called monochrome. During the Byzantine era, the mosaic artists became top quality artists. Most of the time, walls and floors were used as base for many mosaic arts. The palaces, temples, and vaults were also decorated with mosaic work and the artists also used natural stones, marble, gold, silver, and colored glass.

The artists used a variety of themes. Some of them used ancient myths, faces of emperors and empresses, hunting scenes, religion, belief, and many other designsThe Greek’s favorite tesserae were pebbles especially for their floors. The Macedonians used polychrome pebbles for buildings and other prominent structures.

Greek mosaics

If you happen to be in Greece, don’t forget to check out Chios. It offers a magnificent historical attraction – Nea Moni. It is only about 11 kilometers away from the main city of Chios. According to written history, the monastery was founded by hermit monks. These monks found a Virgin icon and they persuaded Constantine IX to build a church and monastery. Its ecclesiastical architecture has attracted many people from different parts of the world, especially those who love mosaic art. The mosaics in Chios are highly regarded.

For other works of art, you can visit Palace of Ioustiniani, the Byzantine Museum, and the Maritime Museum. While enjoying the amazing mosaics in Greece, you can also check out the traditional festivals there. Even tourists can participate in the festivals which showcase traditional dances, drinks, and foods. You can witness these festivals on the month of August. From May to October, Greece is a great place to visit because of its fair weather. Summer vacation in Greece can be fun as you explore many interesting places. Visit the museums in the area and see the beautiful mosaic works from the ancient times.

The Greeks played an important role in the development of mosaic. The ancient people were already creative and used their imagination to create fantastic works of art which stood the test of time. For centuries, the ancient mosaics were buried underground and yet, when they were finally uncovered, most of the mosaics were still in good condition.

Truly the works of the ancient people were among the best. Visit Greece and don’t forget to check out the mosaics.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Raffello's Angel Mosaics are creative images from the assemblage of stones, glass, and other small pieces of materials. It is also considered as a decorative art technique and an important facet of interior design. Mosaic arts can be of spiritual and cultural significance. Have you seen mosaics in the cathedrals? These are great examples of mosaics with spiritual significance. Pictures and patterns are created by using pottery fragments (also called tesserae/tessellae) and small tiles or colored/clear glass.

The pattern or picture created varies depending on the design of the artist. Most mosaic artists make use of china, shells, mirror, pebbles, ceramics, and glass. Each piece is called tessera while the spaces in between where grout is placed are called interstices. The flow or movement of the tesserae is called andamento. These are some of the terms that you should be familiar with if you’re working with mosaics. There are various ways of cutting the pieces used in mosaic and this is called ‘opus’ which means ‘work’. The following are the various cuts and positioning of the materials:

• The tesserae are laid out in regular brick-like straight lines (opus tessellatum)

• Horizontal and vertical lines in a regular grid (opus regulatum)

• Flowing/wriggling lines on the surface (opus vermiculatum)

• Vermiculatum with background and image (opus musivum)

• Crazy-paving appearance because of the irregular shapes being used (opus palladianum)

There are three methods being used in mosaics. The first one is the direct method. As the word suggests, the pieces are directly placed or glued to the surface. This method is best used in vases and other transportable objects. The mosaic is visible enough to allow adjustments. There is a disadvantage in using this method because you need to work on the actual surface immediately. Sometimes, the surface becomes uneven. This method is not suitable for large projects.

The other method is the indirect and this is often used for large projects. The tiles are first placed on backing papers with the use of adhesive and later on, it is transferred to the craft projects, floors, or walls. This gives the artist to rework certain areas. The result is an even and smoother surface. Some examples of mosaics using the indirect method are tabletops, benches, and murals.

Another method is the double indirect. In this method, the complete work can be see even during the process of its creation, hence the term double indirect. The tessarae pieces are placed over a certain medium, faced up. The medium is turned over and removed; then the indirect procedure is followed. This method is fussy and at times, the work is damaged.

Tessellation is the mathematics of mosaics. Each of the tessarae is placed mathematically to ensure the preciseness and beauty of the work. Today, digital imaging is also being used, thanks to the advanced technology. For example, an image is chosen for a floor and the image is broken down into pixels that appear like ceramic tiles like that of the pool of University of Toronto. Different themes can be created using digital imaging.

Patriarchal TtunicMosaics have gone a long way ever since it was first introduced in the art scene. Many people today are quite interested in this work of art. If you want to learn mosaic, you simply need to enroll in a class for a certain fee.

Mosaics created by Giulio Menossi

Mosaico - Scuola Menossi

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Friday, March 5, 2010


By B. John Zavrel
Chancellor of the Alexander Order

Great art is more than a treat for the eye or a tonic for the spirit. Truly great art is an expression of the innermost soul of a people: an expression of that people's yearnings and ideals, of its deepest hopes and joys, of its meaning and purpose.

Is there anything which Americans need more today than a renewed sense of purpose in their lives? Our forefathers in Europe strove to uplift themselves and their people to new levels of greatness. The best of them saw their purpose as the elevation of man, and they were often able to inspire their fellows with the same feeling of purpose. In America today there seems to be little, if any, sense of purpose beyond the individual accumulation of material wealth and the pursuit of pleasure. This aimlessness has taken an enormous toll, not only in lives destroyed by drugs and alcohol, but even more in the degeneration of our national life.

Today the great standards which guided us in the past have been ridiculed, belittled, and torn down. This is true of art, which in turning to modernism has lost all meaning for the American majority, and it is true of most other aspects of our social and cultural life. In view of this it is hardly surprising that so many of our young people are leading confusing lives and are looking to the future without hope.

It need not be this way. We can have standards again. We can renew the purpose and meaning in the life of our people. The great art which inspired and guided our forefathers is not dead. It lives today in the magnificent sculpture of Arno Breker. His art is the living expression of the same spirit which inspired the Greeks of the Classical Age and which flowered again during the European Renaissance. It can also inspire Americans in these dark days and guide them again to the light.

Classical art is the true art of Europe, the true art of our people. This is why so many great leaders of the past--Napoleon, for example--took care to instill Classical ideals in their citizens. This is why they commissioned artists to create art in the Classical tradition for state buildings and public monuments, to serve as a standard and an ideal for the government and for the people. They knew that only with great and noble ideals is it possible for a nation to achieve and maintain greatness.

Greatness is what we want for America. Our hearts yearn for a great culture once again, for great deeds once again, for great heroes once again. We yearn for the elevation of our people, for the bringing forth of a higher man: a man of will and purpose and greatness of spirit. We want our people to glorify the great, the noble, the beautiful, and the divinely creative once again.

Copyright 1996 PROMETHEUS
Reprinted with permission

Mosaics created by Giulio Menossi

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Thursday, March 4, 2010


Definition: Aquileia is an archaeological site in northern Italy. During the imperial period of the Roman empire, Aquileia was one of the wealthiest towns in the region.

Aquileia was founded about 180 BC, and it gained stature particularly after the construction of the Via Popilia (132 BC), a main Roman road connecting Aquileia and Altinum. As a commercial center of nearly 200,000 people located at a primary Roman crossroads, Aquileia connected central and northern Europe with the Mediterranean region.

Aquileia was also a center of glass making during the Roman imperial period until 452 AD when much of the town was destroyed by Attila the Hun. Many of the glass makers from Aquileia moved to the Venetian lagoon, founding workshops such as the one at Torcello.

Today, Aquileia is an archaeological park, with some of the ruins open to the public, including the Roman forum, the harbor, a necropolis and two residential areas. The extant basilica was first built in the 3rd century AD. It too was destroyed by Attila in the fifth century, but a new basilica was built atop the ruins in 1031 and it has been extensively remodeled since. Two museums are available for wandering around in as well.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Udine, Italy

Udine stands at the centre of the Region Friuli-Venezia Giulia in a favored geographical position, near a n the international route which links up the south and the north-east of Europe.

The earliest mention of Udine can be found in a document dating back to 983; it is a charter with which Emperor Otto II granted the castle of Udine (together with those of other four neighboring localities) to the Patriarch of Aquileia. Yet excavations carried out in different times trace its history back to many centuries before. It may be taken for granted that during the second millennium B.C. there was already a more or less steady settlement in the place.

The second important date in the evolution of Udine was the year 1223, when Patriarch Berthold of Andechs-Merania obtained from Emperor Frederick Il the confirmation of his sovereign rights and granted Udine the market which in a few years was removed from Old Market Place to New Market Square (piazza Matteotti), so rapid was the growth of the town.

Yet the aspect of the city was sharply modeled only after 1420 when Udine and the whole of Friuli were part of the Venetian Republic. "Under the rule of Venice our land followed the destiny of the state it was linked to: we would mention several raids by the Turks (from 1472 to 1499), the war between the Republic and Emperor Maximilian (1508-1514), the war of Gradisca (1615-1617) between the Venetians and the Imperials. In 1797 Friuli was occupied by the Napoleonic troops and the following year, on account of the Treaty of Campoformio, it came under the rule of the House of Austria.

Yet defeated several times by the French it resumed the permanent domination of Friuli only in 1813. After the unsuccessful liberal rising of 1848, on the 2nd of October 1866 the Province of Udine was annexed to the Reign of Italy" (Rizzi).

During World War 1 (1915-1918) Udine was the seat of the Italian Supreme Command. In 1963 the city and its Province together with Trieste, Gorizia and Pordenone constituted Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a self-governing Region with Special Ordinance.

Photos by Tim Denton

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Good Sheperd Mosaic - Ravenna, Italy

There are several ‘The Good Shepherd’ mosaics that you can check out.

In Ravenna Italy, you can find a 5th century mosaic of the Good Shepherd at the Galla Placidia Mausoleum. It is of Byzantine heritage. When you enter the mausoleum, you will see this mosaic art. You if you examine it closely, you will notice that it has a variety of bright colors and different tiles were used to create the ‘depth illusion’.

During the Roman Empire, Ravenna City played an important role in the mosaic industry. It was a fleet base during the time of Emperor Augustus and by 402 AD, Honorius made the city a capital of the Roman Empire in the west. From 493 AD to 540 AD, the city was full of buildings and outstanding monuments. Mosaic icons dominated during this time. Buildings and churches had mosaic works and one of the greatest works is the Good Shepherd at Galla. In this mosaic, you can see that Jesus is leading a faithful flock of sheep. When one of the sheep was lost, He went out to find it. The mosaic tells a lot about the life of Jesus as well as His Kingdom.

Another Good Shepherd mosaic can be found in Ravenna but this art work is of Greek origin. It was created in the late 20th century. The mosaic shows the Lord carrying the lost sheep. The sheep symbolizes an individual who has strayed. It also shows that God will do everything He can to bring back a lost soul. Through this mosaic, many people were able to understand the likeness and image of God; and that He gives the people freedom of choice.

The Simple Shepherd is of Greek origin and it can also be found in Galla. It is for sale for only $14. The mosaic shows Nicholas Planas, a priest.

Many years ago, religion is a very important part of the everyday life of people. Although religion still remains an important part of modern society, the passion and intensity of the worshippers in the past was reflected in their great works. Most of the ruins and relics dating back centuries ago show that the mosaics were reflections of their beliefs, ideology, and faith.

Christians were not free to express their belief back in the old days. Through art works, they were able to impart to the world their strong faith to the Lord. If you have a chance to visit the Galla Placidia Mausoleum, take the opportunity to see the three mosaic art works by various artists. Mosaic works like these are rare and it tells a lot about history. Mosaic has definitely withstood the test of time.

Galla Placidia Mausoleum offers breathtaking mosaics and aside from that, you will also have a chance to visit one of the oldest structures in Ravenna. The mausoleum itself was built back in 430 AD in honor of a powerful empress – Galla Placidia. It wad intended to be a tomb for the Empress but she was buried at St. Petronilla near the basilica of St. Peter in Rome. Millions of tourists and local visitors are impressed of the mosaics in the mausoleum.

Aside from the Good Shepherd mosaics, you can also find other mosaic designs like that of the starry night and he golden patterns of plants and flowers on the side arches. Come to the mausoleum and be intrigued by the magnificent mosaics there.


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Monday, March 1, 2010

Come join me in Udine, Italy

Watch this video it's cool!


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"Dynamic Mosaic Art"

This quote from Maestro Giulio Menossi from Udine, Italy just about says it all:

“I believe that the slow painstaking mosaic process exposes our personal stories.  The difficulties of the journey follow the lines of the glass, where each tessera represents a new encounter, where hues and shades harmonize into new colors.  Where the shapes, too close to our noses don’t allow us to recognize the vision as a whole, which we only discover by taking several steps backward and looking with fresh eyes.

Creating a mosaic is a process of pairing, shaping, adding and removing tessera after tessera, until the work is complete.  Each piece needs to be chosen not only according to the one that precedes it, but also taking into consideration the ones that will follow.  It is a process of deliberate construction where the most important element is passion.”

Menossi is a master at using glass tile to create dynamic fine art mosaics.

 His renderings whether they are portraits or contemporary abstracts are rich with  mosaic techniques, color, style and a variety of materials from glass tile to found objects and stone.   Viewing the fine art mosaics of Menossi is similar to taking a walk through a candy store. The richness and exquisite detail of each piece is exhilarating, a true treat to the heart, mind and eyes.

In 1998 Menossi created a pivotal work of glass tile mosaic art ,which start him on the journey to what he now terms his “dynamic mosaics”.  While he is most recognized for his fine art Portraiture, he is winning awards for his creative contemporary art mosaic abstracts.

The glass tile fine art mosaic portraiture in the hands of the Maestro is a truly amazing, exciting and passionate piece of art.  Using the ancient techniques and  tools, the hammer and hardi he is able to cut exact and precise pieces of hard glass to shape expressive eyes, the curve of the lips, to design and place the glass with techniques that give depth and perspective to the expressions of the face.   These mosaics particularly are used in churches, as memorials, in homes as wall art, in spas, pools and in public buildings.

With the advent of his “dynamic mosaics’, the contemporary abstract fine art mosaics he is traveling a new path in and creating a new road for mosaic art.  These 3D sculptural mosaics are lively, colorful, with a variety of material and definitely dynamic.  The shapes often times explode past what the viewer might think would be the boundaries of the design, causing the person viewing the mosaic to move and flow with the design.  In these dynamic mosaics Menossi often hides symbols or perhaps a dragon fly, causing the viewer to search among the glass tiles in order to see the hidden objects.

"The strongest voice comes from complete mastery of what has come before us, right up to the minute prior to finding our own voice and style as a master.  But becoming a master of the work will always miss something if not built upon the explorations of the past before striking out on one's own."

Maestro Menossi in his apprenticeship with Maestro Domenico Colledani of Milan learned and mastered all the fundamentals before he would break away and develop his outstanding career. Now he invites you to join this ancient tradition, by working with him, through direct study and his guidance, as a way of fully developing your own unique style.

Menossi bases his teaching on the oldest traditions of mosaics rooted in time, place, and tradition but also in striking innovation which arises from a true and deep understanding of what mosaics were, are, and will be.   Maestro Menossi knows that giving anything less to the students he is teaching would denigrate and diminish the rich and ancient traditions of mosaic art and would be disastrous to the students that come to him to learn.  The fundamental skills that are required to create beautiful mosaics are the same for figural work, portraits, interpretations, abstract works and the unique and original designs that come from the artist's own heart and mind.

Following in this tradition, the classes that Maestro Menossi is offering in 2010 will establish within you as a student the deepest roots upon which to build your own unique style. You will certainly find your own voice and style in the workshops which Menossi presents.

Maestro Menossi is offering two, two week classes in 2010.  The first course is May 16 -28 where he will be teaching his portraiture techniques using the Venetian double indirect method and the second course May 30 – June 11 he will teach the direct method as a way  discover a reinterpretation of a Klimt painting.

Why not study and work directly with one of the great mosaic masters of our time... one who combines the deep traditions and the deep, solid roots of the past (where they actually were expressed, in Italy) with the thrilling potential of the future.  Go directly to the source and study with one of the greatest Maestro of our time, Maestro Giulio Menossi.

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