Fremont Frameworks

An Overview of Mosaic Techniques

Has it ever happened to you that you might have suddenly come upon a beautiful mosaic that you could not help but stand and gaze at for the next few minutes? What is probably a well-laid out collage of colored squares is actually a mosaic and it is a form of art that has endured through time since the 8th century BC. There was a time when mosaics were principally used to beautify places of worship and regal premises but these gradually seeped into the daily fabric of life to be displayed on tables, doors and walls.

Mosaics are believed to have originated for the first time in Greece and these were made of pebbles owing to the ease of fixing and not much scope in terms of colors. Owing to the shape and black-and-white shades, pebble mosaics were laid on footpaths and floors so that they could add an aesthetic touch without compromising on the functionality. Gradually these became an expression of art and it was during the 4th century BC that the color spectrum was expanded to include red and green.

As more materials and colors began to find their way into mosaics, this stream of art became more sophisticated and specialized and proliferated into almost every building ranging from individual villas to pubs and public halls. Even now, hand-made mosaics in Greece and Italy come for a premium, especially since the tradition is on the verge of dying out. Nowadays, pebble mosaics are a little rare to find as pebbles have been replaced by small square pieces named tesserae of other materials like glass, marble and chalk.

There are three different techniques by which mosaics can be prepared, each of which is described as follows –

Direct – In this method, the tesserae are embedded directly on to the base and on completion, the entire assemblage is fitted on to the final surface and attached with the help of an adhesive. Ease of transportation of such a mosaic depends on the type of surface used wherein stone or concrete is the heaviest and most difficult to shift while fiber glass is relatively lighter and hence easier to move around.

An advantage of the direst method is WYSWYG, meaning you can actually track the progress of the mosaic on a day-to-day basis and this facilitates rectification of mistakes as and when they occur.

Indirect – Modus operandi of this method entails fixing the tesserae upside down on a brown paper surface and this is then either framed or grouted from underneath in order to be fixed on to the desired surface. From this it draws that it is virtually impossible to adjudge the direction which the mosaic might be taking till it has been completed in entirety and by that time it is too late to make any changes. Transportation is another problem as is handling concrete given the importance of proper mixing.

That said, there are advantages of this method too, primary in the list being durability. Secondly, the outcome is totally flat, meaning it is perfect for walls and floors.

Double indirect – Most complicated amongst the three methods, the process entails placing the tesserae facing upward on a medium as per the desired pattern and then placing another medium on top of it. The mosaic is then turned over and installed in its desired location. Complicated though it is, monitoring the making process is what makes it worthwhile especially if there are human figures involved.

Currently mosaics are prepared through digital imaging wherein several pixels are arranged and re-arranged till the best fit is achieved.