Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekly Craft: Mosaic Art

By Meredith of Mtartists

(photo courtesy of

The history of mosaic goes back 4000 years or more and is still popular today!

A mosaic is a form of decorative art, in which small tiles or fragments of pottery (known as tesserae, diminutive tessellae) are used to create a pattern or picture. It was used in ancient times for domestic interior decoration. Although Mosaics could be found in early Christian, Byzantine, Silician and Venician art, the Romans were very into Mosaic pattern using various techniques such as:
-Opus signinum: In this technique developed by the Greeks the mosaic was constituted of "ciottoli", or pebbles, that were randomly placed, with rudimental designs, and cemented into place with clay or plaster.
-Opus tesselatum: In this technique, the mosaic is constituted of small pieces, mostly squares of about 1 centimeter, made of stone, enamel, and glass paste, also colored. The pieces were placed one next to the other with very little space between so as not to show the underlying base.
-Opus vermiculatum: This technique was very similar to the Opus tesselatum, differing mostly in the way in which the pieces were cut to shape and size best suited for the design that was being created. The outlines of figures were more accurately depicted.
-Opus sectile: In this type of mosaic, designs were not depicted with pieces of stone etc but instead with pieces of marble or hard stones, cut in such a manner to create uniform colors and patterns.

Materials of various origins are found in mosaics. The most common are marble, glass paste, terracotta, mother of pearl, shells, enamels, gold and silver, and even china.

A handmadeMN team member named Michelle is the visionary mosaic artist behind the etsy shop Rhinestone Bits who uses stained glass gems, pearls and vintage china in her mosaic designs!

Michelle's work is also featured on her website. When asked what inspired her to learn mosaic she said, “Several years ago I happened to go to a very nice boutique, and saw a vintage dresser covered in china. I was mesmerized- and kept running my hands over it. I went back to the shop several more times, just to admire the piece." Her choice of materials tend to be more on the expensive and time consuming side she is unable to buy “china” at her local art store. She must hunt down just the right pieces for her vision. Michelle led on to say, "I prefer china from the early 1900's through the 1940's as it tends to have the color and patina I prefer, and be thinner. It seems to take me quite awhile to collect enough china for the larger pieces, so it can take several weeks to months as a piece sits in various stages of progress. I also tend to sit and stare at a piece of furniture for a long time before a design comes to mind. I go through a lot of coffee that way.” Coffee is a main ingredient in many artist completions, I won’t disagree there! Unfortunately, coffee alone will not teach the skills needed to start creating mosaic art. Michelle suggests looking at your local community college or recreation centers for a one day seminar on mosaics as well as

(Photos courtesy of

There are various tools, materials and tutorials out there for this craft. Click the link below to view a youtube tutorial I thought to be inspiring, simple and fun to try!

(article resources not already mentioned:,,