Complete Mosaic Handbook: Projects, Techniques, Designs

Overview

A comprehensive guide to mosaic techniques and design.

Mosaics enhance everyday objects, revive decors and can be long-lasting works of art. Versatile, strong and wonderfully expressive, one of the appeals of mosaic is its ability to defy time.

The Complete Mosaic Handbook is a comprehensive guide to basic and advanced techniques and design of mosaic art. The book includes step-by-step instructions for thirty practical projects for mosaic ...

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Overview

A comprehensive guide to mosaic techniques and design.

Mosaics enhance everyday objects, revive decors and can be long-lasting works of art. Versatile, strong and wonderfully expressive, one of the appeals of mosaic is its ability to defy time.

The Complete Mosaic Handbook is a comprehensive guide to basic and advanced techniques and design of mosaic art. The book includes step-by-step instructions for thirty practical projects for mosaic artists at every level of experience. Each project is conveniently rated by cost, time and difficulty.

Projects range from the simple to the sophisticated and include:

  • Place mats and coasters
  • Beaded picture frame
  • Outdoor planter
  • Garden path
  • Fruit platter
  • Portrait
  • Jewelry box
  • Glass vase
  • House numbers

The projects employ a wide variety of materials from traditional tile, glass and stone to found objects. The text is concise and jargon-free with full color photographs explaining each step. Valuable advice includes tricks of the trade and design tips for avoiding common mistakes.

Also featured is an extensive gallery of mosaic art styles throughout history: Ancient Greece, Byzantium, Renaissance, then on to contemporary styles such as Arts and Crafts.

Easy-to-follow, foolproof and beautifully illustrated, The Complete Mosaic Handbook is as inspiring as it is instructive.

Practical step-by-step guide for creating mosaic, including basic and advanced techniques and 30 projects.

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Editorial Reviews

Toronto Sun - Annette McLeod
A weighty and thorough journey into the world of mosaics... designs are both expertly executed and nicely broken down into step-by-step instructions.
Globe and Mail - Jane Gadd
A step-by-step program for developing the art of mosaic.
Bargain Art
Express yourself and enhance your decor... create lasting works of art with mosaics.
CanWest News Service - Joanne Hatherly
Those who want to try their hand at this ancient artform can start with award winning mosaic artist Sarah Kelly's all-encompassing book.
Chicago Tribune - Mary Daniels
Even the most novice of crafters will be tempted by the projects illustrated in this book... As well-executed as these chapters are, the most riveting is the first chapter on the history of mosaics... lavish illustrations.
New Orleans Times-Picayune - Jane Dupuy
It's obvious immediately that this book stands apart from the basic beginner's manual... this book offers something for everyone.
Newark Star-Ledger - Robert Rastelli
Stunning... Just about every area of these elaborate projects — beaded picture frames to shell plant pots — is covered in minute detail.
Style at Home - Jenn Houlihan
More than 500 photographs an illustrations will motivate you to create, with step-by-step instructions.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune - Linda Hutchinson
This book is impressive, for both its comprehensiveness and the thoroughness of the directions.
Orlando Sentinel - Rebecca Swain Vadnie
A holistic approach to learning mosaics. There are sections not only on equipment, techniques and supplies, but on more artistic aspects.
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot - Krys Steansky
If you know nothing about mosaic... [this] is your book. If you know everything about mosaic, this is still your book.
Booklist - Stephanie Zvirin
Conveys a potent sense of the majesty and diversity of mosaic art... gorgeous and practical craft book... It is difficult to turn away from this classy volume.
Library Journal
These books by contemporary mosaic artists Goodwin and Kelly are full of good ideas and projects for mosaic crafters. Decorative Mosaics offers well-designed projects by Goodwin, Eve Jennings, and Glen Morgan for household accessories and wall decorations. The Complete Mosaic Handbook is a more extensive collection of projects grouped by difficulty level for beginning, intermediate, and advanced crafters. Included are flat mosaics and three-dimensional objects, such as a decorative lizard. Particularly good is the chapter on elements of design featuring practice pieces. Both books are recommended for public libraries needing more material on mosaics. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781552977743
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/2/2004
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 352,218
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Kelly is an award-winning professional mosaic artist and author of Mosaic Crazy.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Gallery
Equipment and materials

TECHNIQUES
Demonstrated through Step-by-step Photographs

  • Cutting
  • Adhesion
  • Laying the tesserae
  • Grouting
  • Direct method
  • Indirect method
  • Finishing and fixing

DESIGNING MOSAICS
With Projects Demonstrating the Elements of Design

  • Finding inspiration
  • Size and location
  • Color
  • Elements of design
    • Exploring line
    • Shape and form
    • Contrast
    • Composition
    • Opus
    • Mixing media
    • Producing designs
    • Computers and design

BEGINNERS' PROJECTS

  • Place mats and coasters
  • Beaded picture frame
  • Direct method house number
  • Indirect method house number
  • Wall hook
  • Stone garden decoration
  • Buttoned jewelry box
  • Shell plant pot

INTERMEDIATE PROJECTS

  • Fossil platter
  • Glass Lizard
  • White and bronze mirror
  • Slate birdbath
  • Decorative panels
  • Stained-glass chameleon
  • Glass clock
  • Pique assiette fish
  • Outdoor container
  • Amethyst mirror
  • Slate-effect lamp table

ADVANCED PROJECTS

  • Small portrait
  • Mixed-media peacock
  • Large circular mirror
  • Trash goddess statue
  • X's and O's game
  • Cast-marble paving slab
  • Permanent garden path

Glossary
Author and artist biographies
Index

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Preface

Introduction

Mosaics have fascinated people for centuries. Intricate designs created from many tiny gleaming pieces immediately capture the eye and give the viewer a dual pleasure — the image itself and the beauty of its constituent parts. Mosaics are both a functional form and a decorative art, making them endlessly versatile and appealing. When you begin to design and make your own mosaics, the pleasure of creating something out of something else is an intriguing process and quickly becomes addictive. Each tessera seems precious and has a charm of its own, whether it is a fragment of broken pottery, a shimmering glass tile, a richly colored piece of smalti or a pebble of subtle natural beauty. The anguish of breaking a much-loved piece of ceramic is eased by the knowledge that it can be reincarnated in a wonderful mosaic creation. Nothing is wasted: mosaic can find a use for almost anything. For those with magpie tendencies, mosaic provides the perfect outlet for carefully hoarded treasures that are just too pretty to throw away, or it can provide an excuse for acquiring even more bright and sparkly things... sheer indulgence!

Everyday examples of mosaic art and decoration exist in a variety of forms in many places, just waiting to be noticed. Stores may yield tiled doorsteps of Victorian or Art Deco origin with elaborate lettering and floral patterns or strong geometric designs. Some underpasses, urban areas and underground train stations feature decorated walls or murals, sometimes designed and executed with the help of the local community. In the U.K., the London Underground contains many fine examples of decorated walls, including Edward Paolozzi's fiesta of shape and color atTottenham Court Road station. Shopping centers, museums, galleries and other buildings may feature specially commissioned works on floors or walls. Swimming pools may display mosaic designs beyond the usual fate of rows and rows of aquamarine-colored tiles. Mosaic often features in astonishingly beautiful images and decoration in churches, mosques and other places of worship, as well as appearing on sculptures, works of public art, decorated columns and in gardens, parks and grottoes.

These, of course, are in addition to the places throughout the world where you are likely to find particularly famous examples of the mosaic genre.

Any country that was part of the Roman Empire will possess a treasure trove of examples of the decorated floors and walls that formed parts of villas and other buildings. Churches from the Byzantine and Christian periods contain stunning examples of pictorial mosaic mixing the vivid, realistic colors of smalti with gold. In Ravenna, northern Italy, the church of San Vitale is one of many buildings whose interiors feature lushly colored images, executed in glass smalti, gold and precious and semi-precious stones.

Modern-day Istanbul, in Turkey, formerly the city of Constantinople, was a thriving and wealthy meeting place of European and Asian cultures, which is reflected in the heady mix of art and architecture that exists in the city today. The 14th-century mosaics in the Kariye Camii (Saint Savior in Chora) are considered by some to be the finest of their kind, with their sensitive rendering of the subjects and sense of vitality . Th fabulous Hagia Sophia (see picture overleaf) — once a church, then a mosque and now a museum — also contains beautiful examples of religious imagery. In the ceiling mosaic, believed to be one of the largest mosaics ever made, 150 million gold tesserae were used — the equivalent of 1,000 of mosaic tons of glass! Remarkable mosaics from this period can be also found in Rome and Venice, and across Sicily and Greece.

The Spanish city of Barcelona is home to the unique and exuberant mosaic and architectural designs of Antoni Gaudí. These include the organic-looking Casa Batlló, with its curving, scaly roof reminiscent of the back of a gigantic dragon, the contorted roof towers of Casa Milá (also known as La Pedrera), the soaring towers of the truly awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia and the charming and eccentric Parc Güell, with its mosaic-encrusted pavilions, lizard staircase and undulating benches. All of Parc Güell's features are decorated with a mixture of broken tiles, reconstituted smashed plates, specially made ceramic pieces and shards of glass, varying from shades of white and cream to a riot of color and pattern.

Barcelona is definitely a "must visit" for the mosaic enthusiast, because the city also boasts a number of elaborate modernista (Art Nouveau) buildings, often liberally and beautifully adorned with mosaic. La Palau de la Música Catalana is a particularly breathtaking example, combining sculpture,
stained glass and mosaic. Delicately sculpted figures of musicians burst out from a mosaic wall in the concert hall, and an exterior balcony is home to an avenue of slender pillars decorated with stylized floral designs.

Remaining in Spain, the southern region of Andalucia contains many mosaics in the Moorish style — known as zillïj — a remnant from the Moorish occupation of the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. The palace of the Aihambra in Granada is lavishly decorated in this way and, combined with the extreme beauty of the architecture, makes for an extraordinary sight. In Morocco itself, this type of intricately designed geometric mosaic decorates palaces, mosques and public buildings. They are made up from glazed tiles, individually named and ranging in shape from diamonds to stars to stylized petal forms, which are fitted together in a series of prescribed patterns. The beauty and complexity of these provide a source of endless viewing pleasure, making for an almost meditative experience as one focuses on the different aspects and rhythms within the pattern.

These works, which have inspired countless others to create mosaics, represent just a few examples. There are many mosaic treasures to discover across the world, contemporary and historical, complex and simple, created from junk or precious materials, executed by the trained practitioner or the enthusiastic novice, for pleasure or purpose or both.

Historically, the first form of mosaic was found in the former country of Mesopotamia, now Iraq, in around 3000 B.c. This consisted of black, red and white clay cones embedded into the walls of buildings, with the prime intention of strengthening the structure. Mosaic developed in different forms throughout the ancient world — the various peoples of ancient Mexico used fragments of turquoise to adorn important ceremonial objects, and the ancient Greeks used variously colored pebbles to create designs for floors. In Pella, Macedonia, pebble mosaics were created in the fourth century B.C. using carefully chosen stones to achieve contrast and subtle gradations of light and shade, with lead strips inserted between areas of pebble to give definition to form. As time progressed, this technique became more complex, with smaller stones being used. Eventually, stones were specially cut into regular geometric forms, which made them easier to fit together. Small pieces of glass also began to be included.

However, it was the Romans who took mosaics to a greater level of sophistication. They transformed a functional technique into a highly artistic one. The planning of the mosaics also became more precise, with designs tailored specifically to fit into a particular room or area. Narrative panels, featuring stories of the Gods and scenes of everyday life, like fishing, hunting and harvesting, were created, as well as a bewildering array of decorative borders, with lushly flowing vegetation or simple geometric patterns. These detailed pictorial sections set into large backgrounds are known as emblema.

Mosaics of the Christian period were widely used to decorate the walls of churches, and colored glass and gold were used to full effect. They were often sited some distance from where the congregation sat, so colors were exaggerated and h

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

Mosaics have fascinated people for centuries. Intricate designs created from many tiny gleaming pieces immediately capture the eye and give the viewer a dual pleasure -- the image itself and the beauty of its constituent parts. Mosaics are both a functional form and a decorative art, making them endlessly versatile and appealing. When you begin to design and make your own mosaics, the pleasure of creating something out of something else is an intriguing process and quickly becomes addictive. Each tessera seems precious and has a charm of its own, whether it is a fragment of broken pottery, a shimmering glass tile, a richly colored piece of smalti or a pebble of subtle natural beauty. The anguish of breaking a much-loved piece of ceramic is eased by the knowledge that it can be reincarnated in a wonderful mosaic creation. Nothing is wasted: mosaic can find a use for almost anything. For those with magpie tendencies, mosaic provides the perfect outlet for carefully hoarded treasures that are just too pretty to throw away, or it can provide an excuse for acquiring even more bright and sparkly things... sheer indulgence!

Everyday examples of mosaic art and decoration exist in a variety of forms in many places, just waiting to be noticed. Stores may yield tiled doorsteps of Victorian or Art Deco origin with elaborate lettering and floral patterns or strong geometric designs. Some underpasses, urban areas and underground train stations feature decorated walls or murals, sometimes designed and executed with the help of the local community. In the U.K., the London Underground contains many fine examples of decorated walls, including Edward Paolozzi's fiesta ofshape and color atTottenham Court Road station. Shopping centers, museums, galleries and other buildings may feature specially commissioned works on floors or walls. Swimming pools may display mosaic designs beyond the usual fate of rows and rows of aquamarine-colored tiles. Mosaic often features in astonishingly beautiful images and decoration in churches, mosques and other places of worship, as well as appearing on sculptures, works of public art, decorated columns and in gardens, parks and grottoes.

These, of course, are in addition to the places throughout the world where you are likely to find particularly famous examples of the mosaic genre.

Any country that was part of the Roman Empire will possess a treasure trove of examples of the decorated floors and walls that formed parts of villas and other buildings. Churches from the Byzantine and Christian periods contain stunning examples of pictorial mosaic mixing the vivid, realistic colors of smalti with gold. In Ravenna, northern Italy, the church of San Vitale is one of many buildings whose interiors feature lushly colored images, executed in glass smalti, gold and precious and semi-precious stones.

Modern-day Istanbul, in Turkey, formerly the city of Constantinople, was a thriving and wealthy meeting place of European and Asian cultures, which is reflected in the heady mix of art and architecture that exists in the city today. The 14th-century mosaics in the Kariye Camii (Saint Savior in Chora) are considered by some to be the finest of their kind, with their sensitive rendering of the subjects and sense of vitality . Th fabulous Hagia Sophia (see picture overleaf) -- once a church, then a mosque and now a museum -- also contains beautiful examples of religious imagery. In the ceiling mosaic, believed to be one of the largest mosaics ever made, 150 million gold tesserae were used -- the equivalent of 1,000 of mosaic tons of glass! Remarkable mosaics from this period can be also found in Rome and Venice, and across Sicily and Greece.

The Spanish city of Barcelona is home to the unique and exuberant mosaic and architectural designs of Antoni Gaudí. These include the organic-looking Casa Batlló, with its curving, scaly roof reminiscent of the back of a gigantic dragon, the contorted roof towers of Casa Milá (also known as La Pedrera), the soaring towers of the truly awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia and the charming and eccentric Parc Güell, with its mosaic-encrusted pavilions, lizard staircase and undulating benches. All of Parc Güell's features are decorated with a mixture of broken tiles, reconstituted smashed plates, specially made ceramic pieces and shards of glass, varying from shades of white and cream to a riot of color and pattern.

Barcelona is definitely a "must visit" for the mosaic enthusiast, because the city also boasts a number of elaborate modernista (Art Nouveau) buildings, often liberally and beautifully adorned with mosaic. La Palau de la Música Catalana is a particularly breathtaking example, combining sculpture, stained glass and mosaic. Delicately sculpted figures of musicians burst out from a mosaic wall in the concert hall, and an exterior balcony is home to an avenue of slender pillars decorated with stylized floral designs.

Remaining in Spain, the southern region of Andalucia contains many mosaics in the Moorish style -- known as zillïj -- a remnant from the Moorish occupation of the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. The palace of the Aihambra in Granada is lavishly decorated in this way and, combined with the extreme beauty of the architecture, makes for an extraordinary sight. In Morocco itself, this type of intricately designed geometric mosaic decorates palaces, mosques and public buildings. They are made up from glazed tiles, individually named and ranging in shape from diamonds to stars to stylized petal forms, which are fitted together in a series of prescribed patterns. The beauty and complexity of these provide a source of endless viewing pleasure, making for an almost meditative experience as one focuses on the different aspects and rhythms within the pattern.

These works, which have inspired countless others to create mosaics, represent just a few examples. There are many mosaic treasures to discover across the world, contemporary and historical, complex and simple, created from junk or precious materials, executed by the trained practitioner or the enthusiastic novice, for pleasure or purpose or both.

Historically, the first form of mosaic was found in the former country of Mesopotamia, now Iraq, in around 3000 B.c. This consisted of black, red and white clay cones embedded into the walls of buildings, with the prime intention of strengthening the structure. Mosaic developed in different forms throughout the ancient world -- the various peoples of ancient Mexico used fragments of turquoise to adorn important ceremonial objects, and the ancient Greeks used variously colored pebbles to create designs for floors. In Pella, Macedonia, pebble mosaics were created in the fourth century B.C. using carefully chosen stones to achieve contrast and subtle gradations of light and shade, with lead strips inserted between areas of pebble to give definition to form. As time progressed, this technique became more complex, with smaller stones being used. Eventually, stones were specially cut into regular geometric forms, which made them easier to fit together. Small pieces of glass also began to be included.

However, it was the Romans who took mosaics to a greater level of sophistication. They transformed a functional technique into a highly artistic one. The planning of the mosaics also became more precise, with designs tailored specifically to fit into a particular room or area. Narrative panels, featuring stories of the Gods and scenes of everyday life, like fishing, hunting and harvesting, were created, as well as a bewildering array of decorative borders, with lushly flowing vegetation or simple geometric patterns. These detailed pictorial sections set into large backgrounds are known as emblema.

Mosaics of the Christian period were widely used to decorate the walls of churches, and colored glass and gold were used to full effect. They were often sited some distance from where the congregation sat, so colors were exaggerated and heightened and figures simplified. The style in which the tesserae were laid (known as opus) gave more definition to the objects in the foreground, which meant that there was not such a great need for contrast between them and the background, although full gold backgrounds soon became popular.

Craftsmen of the Byzantine period began to make full use of the reflective qualities of the glass and gold tesserae by angling them in different ways within the mosaic to catch light from the available sources and reflect it down to the viewer. They also began using natural stone to create faces, utilizing between six and eight subtle shades that gave the flesh tones a realistic, almost painterly, quality. The mosaics created in Ravenna in the sixth century featured tesserae cut specially to fit the contours of faces, which gave them a real sense of vitality. By contrast, the garments of the figures became quite stylised, with the folds of the fabric flattened and decorated with surface pattern, as seen in the mosaics of the Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodora in the presbytery of San Vitale in Ravenna.

The Renaissance period saw mosaics develop in sophistication and technical effect as craftsmen succeeded in emulating paintings so well that they no longer resembled mosaics. One artist dubbed mosaic as "la vera pittura per l'eternitá" (the true way of painting for eternity), and while these pieces are quite amazing to look at, the techniques of the mosaic are completely disguised and do not communicate the joy and exuberance of the earlier styles.

Mosaics became further refined when a technique for making tesserae was invented in the early 1870s by Giacomo Raffaelli. Called filat, some of these tesserae were only 1 mm (1/25 inch) wide. This inspired a wave of "micromosaics," work so finely rendered that the mosaicists striving for that painted effect finally succeeded -- the mosaic effect became almost totally invisible. This technique was also used to create and decorate furnishings, tables, vases, snuff boxes and pieces of jewellery. This painstaking attention to detail, with the aim of making mosaic resemble something else, resulted in a deadening of its creativity, which was to change only with the advent of Art Nouveau.

The Art Nouveau period of the late 19th-century -- also known as Modernism and the Secession -- revived an interest in using mosaic on a larger scale. The Viennese painter Gustav Klimt designed a frieze for the Palais Stoclet in Brussels in the early 1900s. It featured exotic spiraling trees and stylized figures with gloriously patterned clothing in Klimt's customary style and was executed in the richest and most luxurious materials possible -- marble, copper, gold, faience (painted and glazed earthenware), coral and semi-precious stones -- all specifically manufactured for the project.

But it is the Catalan artist Antoni Gaudí who is credited with infusing mosaic with fresh enthusiasm. His incredible buildings and structures are covered in an anarchic but fascinatingly beautiful blend of mixed-media mosaic, which often included found items (see overleaf). The ceramicist Josep Maria Jujol and a team of craftsmen were responsible for most of the mosaics that covered Gaudí's work, although it is Gaudí himself who usually gets the credit. This innovative attitude paved the way for sculpture and other 3-D forms to be decorated with mosaic, later examples of which include the work of the artists Niki de Saint Phalle and Simon Rodia.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, French artist Niki de Saint Phalle created a fabulous sculptured garden near the town of Capalbio in Italy. The garden, known as the Giardino dei Tarocchi, or Tarot Garden, is based on the 22 cards of the major arcana (those representing main characters or themes) of a deck of tarot cards. The sculptures are huge and surreal -- some even contain rooms -- and they are decorated inside and out with flamboyant mosaics using mirror and brightly colored ceramic tiles and objects.

Simon Rodia was an Italian immigrant who constructed huge steel and concrete towers outside his home in Los Angeles, California. Decorated with a mixture of found objects, including shells and glass, they are over 100 feet tall and are known as the Watts Towers.

This urge to decorate with found objects on a grand scale also appeared in France. In 1938, Raymond Isidore began covering the whole of his house near Chartres in a mosaic of broken crockery and tiles. This mosaic covered all the walls, inside and out, the garden, the furniture and even a stove. The house is called Maison Picassiette, taken from the name the locals jokingly called him: pique assiette -- literally, plate stealer. This term is now used to describe working with found and broken ceramic.

In Mexico in the 1950s, artists such as Diego Rivera (see right), Juan O'Gorman, D.A. Siqueiros and Francisco Eppens took their inspiration from Gaudí's decorated buildings and covered entire buildings in Mexico City with huge murals depicting political and social themes.

Other 20th-century artists have also been closely associated with mosaic. Works by Marc Chagall and Oskar Kokoschka were translated into mosaics that celebrated their original styles of painting. Mosaic also appeared as part of the art movements of Futurism, Cubism and Dadaism.

Today with this fabulous heritage to draw from, mosaic is again emerging as a popular art form, with incredibly varied techniques demonstrated over a range of applications. There is something for everyone in mosaic, both in the process of creating and the pleasure in the finished piece, a pleasure that can be both visual and tactile. To create your own mosaics requires nothing more than a mastery of the basic techniques, the urge to create, and a mind open to inspiration and exploration. Your own interests and tastes will help to develop your ideas and your choice of materials and techniques, and the huge range of possibilities means that making mosaics can be as cheap or as expensive as you like.

The intention of this book is to present a full range of mosaic techniques, materials and projects, as well as sections on finding inspiration and designing mosaics. It aims to show you what can be achieved in the hope that you can take the art of mosaic in any direction you please and discover for yourself the many delights of this fascinating medium. A substantial gallery section, as well as additional examples to accompany each project, are included to demonstrate a wide range of approaches, subjects and styles.

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