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.
Mosaics 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