Mosaic techniques

Mosaics can be made from any durable material: pebbles, small bricks or pieces of glass. The correct name for a small individual piece of mosaic is 'tessera' (plural tesserae). It comes from Latin.


The Romans also had Latin names for the differing ways that the tesserae are set down:  


Opus Vermiculatum: in which the tiles are placed around the central subject like a worm.


Opus Regulatum: the tiles are placed around the central subject creating a background like a grid.


Opus Musivium: in which the whole of the background of the pieces follows the lines of vermiculatum.


Opus Circumactum: think of the background created like a series of fans.


Opus Tessalatum: the background is like a brick wall.



IMG_0257 the leafy seadragon

How my work is done

Work always starts with drawing a design, usually in a sketchbook. The drawing is then transferred onto MDF board which is overlaid with a plastic mesh substrate. The mesh allows a completed mosaic to be transferred directly onto a wall, to be plastered or integrated within a wall tiling scheme. I then begin making the image, bonding the mosaic tiles to the mesh using a waterproof PVA adhesive. I employ traditional mosaic techniques with a distinctive flow of design. This is called 'andamento'. I use a mixture of cinca tiles (unglazed but vitrified tiles from Portugal), broken mirrors - these can create reflective surfaces, giving greater radiance to the piece, vitreous tiles, glass tiles traditionally used for swimming pools, smalti: traditional Venetian mosaic pieces that can create a raised decorative effect in a mosaic. Over recent years, I have begun to encorporate glass fusions into my mosaics. The final stage is grouting, which fills in any gaps between the tesserae and helps to strengthen and stablise the mosaic. This grouting can be done in any colour, although I find that a mid-grey grout generally works best.