When was the last time you had the pleasure of seeing a mosaic design in person? Was it in a historical site in Italy? Or in a beautifully designed bathroom at The Plaza Hotel? Mosaics are a time honored artist's tradition. They bring life and movement into a room. Nothing is more mesmerizing than understanding how these small pieces of colored glass and tile become a mosaic. Let me share with you the process of creating our mosaics.
Inspiration for our Mosaic Designs
Inspiration is really everywhere: nature, fabrics, rugs, frescoes, even manholes, however we always find ourselves going back to the mosaics of the Roman period: from the first Century BC to the 4th Century AD. There was a particular period around the 2nd Century where mosaics became really popular and are found in floors of a large number of homes. These geometric designs used for decorative purposes were crafted in only 2 colors of stone: black & white.
We learned a lot from this period, not only about the mosaic designs, but about how figures ought to be crafted. How can you shape a figure using even only 1 color and make the viewer understand the shape and follow its movement. We learned that the way you craft the piece has actually more to do with its final effect than the design itself or the color selection. The tessellation makes all the difference, it makes the mosaic acquire dimension.
Artists first, mosaic artists second
All of our work begins with the inspiration of an idea. First, there has to be admiration for the beauty of a design and the movement of its lines. From this movement, we hope to be inspired to create the essence of the piece, whether it is a historical recreation or a modern concept.
From the inception, regardless of research, all the designs are hand drawn. They must be created on paper. We refuse to consider computer use for the first steps in the process of creating mosaic designs. Simply, the hand drawings allow the piece to come to life on the paper. Free flowing lines are a necessary part of allowing the movement of the mosaic to truly be captured. The first several iterations are very rough, done with #2 pencils or even charcoal sticks.
We trace the design many times, tracing over the previous sketch, and trying to define more details and refine the lines. In this process we start to consider what lines should be thickened, for better emphasis in the design; we start considering what materials should be used and what scale would be appropriate; how easy can the mosaic pieces be cut to accommodate the design? Can the design actually be crafted the way it is drawn?
Once the mosaic designs are finally considered functional they will be scanned into a computer. It's important to note the computer is not typically for design purposes. The computer is mainly used to correct minor sketching errors and to assist with coloring the design.
If you're curious about the craftsmanship of a historical design, some consider it a surgical extraction. Mosaics inspired from 2,000 year old pieces undergo the same process of hand sketching with a final computer detailing. Timgad and Ostie are good examples of a historically inspired piece. You'll see the history interwoven with the careful hand detail of our designers.
The quality of a mosaic is 50% attributed to the way it was thought through by the artist; the other 50% is the way the mosaic is crafted. The process of creating a mosaic design must start with fearless conception, there is no right or wrong, it starts in innocence. It's the artist's passion, naturally, that makes them so mesmerizing.