Tag: design considerations
Pattern to Mosaic: Design Evolution
I thought I would share this particular studio photo because it shows the evolution of an improvised mosaic design, in this case a sailing ship.
It also showed ad hoc changes to the pattern after it was already taped beneath clear contact paper.
A mosaic is not a drawing, and we call rendering an existing image into a new medium “an interpretation” even when executed by the same artist because different artistic mediums have different languages.
You can create a mosaic pattern by placing tracing paper over an existing image and merely tracing it, but there is still a lot of artistic decisions to be made.
When you start laying tile, you may find that your design has to change is some way and that the pattern was just a starting point.
Mosaic Tables and Interior Design
Artist RJ Spurr recently completed two mosaic tables for his home, and I wanted to share them because the level of craft work is excellent, and the designs are integrated with the color schemes of rooms where they were installed.
The great thing about dry indoor mosaics is that you can use wood as a base, and that means you can put mosaics on wooden tables. Thrift shops, yard sales, and unfinished furniture stores are great sources for tables, but you can also breath new life into old tables you already have on hand.
Choosing Grout Color Using Tile Test Swatches
Tracy Kaplan recently emailed us a picture of her FIRST mosaic, and it is nice solid work, impressive even, especially considering that her instructor gave her some problematic advice concerning the grout color. Tracy’s teacher had recommended a chocolate or nutmeg colored grout, but Tracy wisely considered how a dark brown might cause adjacent tree trunks to no longer be distinct and separate.
Perhaps Tracy’s instructor had meant a lighter shade of those browns, but I still think that those could have caused problems with the adjacent tree trunks.
Most likely, the instructor only saw a portion of the mosaic without adjacent tree trunks. Tracy admits that she only finished about an eighth of the work during the course and spent many months afterward working to complete it.
If so, this is yet another example of how artistic advice isn’t one-size-fits-all and can be counterproductive or even disastrous if the advice isn’t specific to a particular artist or even a particular work of art in its entirety.
Fortunately, Tracy emailed us for advice.
Repeating Motifs and Abstract Mosaics
Repeating simple designs or motifs is an effective way to make iconic compositions that catch the eye, and you can take this technique to its extreme to produce abstract art where the pattern itself becomes the subject of the art and not just a tool for rendering figures.
Karla Conmy’s River Meanders mosaic is a good example of repeating motifs taken to the level of abstraction, and Sally Scardino’s Hummingbird mosaic is a good example of using a repeated motif to make a figurative composition stronger.
Mosaic Letters and Numerals
You can make mosaic street numbers and signs using a grid, but mosaics made from irregular shapes of non-gridded tesserae are more interesting, especially if you use concentric andamento for the background surrounding the figures.
Sara Sommers emailed us some pictures of her mosaic street number plaque, and it is made from cut pieces of tile in strongly contrasting colors. It is definitely worth checking out if you are thinking of making a piece with large mosaic letters or numerals.Contrasting Colors
For starters, Sara uses strong color contrast between her numerals and background, which is critical for making eye-catching art. She also uses multiple related colors and variegated patterns instead of solid monochromatic color fields.
Beginner Mosaic Artwork
Mosaic is a great medium for beginners because it is accessible for people who don’t have much confidence in their ability to draw. Images can be rendered merely by arranging tile by trial and error until you like what you see.
Of course it helps to have a simple outline or pattern of the image you want to create, but you can easily create mosaic patterns without drawing, and you can easily transfer the pattern by tracing. You can also enlarge a pattern using only a ruler and pencil to draw grids.
Artist Debbie Watson emailed me some photos of her work and described herself as a newbie, saying that she has only been doing mosaic “since about February,” but it is fair to say that she has spent some time looking at mosaic art and thinking about what she would like to make.
Debbie’s mosaics have interesting elements and personality in spite of being relatively simple designs, and that is no small thing.
Strong Color Contrast in Heazlewood Mosaics
Artist Megan Heazlewood makes strong use of contrasting colors in her iconic mosaics, and I think her work is inspiring for that reason.Egyptian Musicians
Egyptian Musicians Contemporary Mosaic by Artist Megan Heazlewood
There are several contrasting color pairs in Megan’s mosaic of ancient Egyptian musicians: the teal and pink of the lotus flowers, the blue and gold, the white robes and the different skin tones, the blues and greens versus the burnt orange.
The Power Of Black in Mosaic Design
I have written many times about black grout and why I recommend it for making tile colors look more intense, but I don’t think I have ever taken the time to talk about using black tile for the same reason.
Artist Carol Jasin recently emailed me some photos of her work, and she makes great use of black tile to make a her mosaics look more colorful and more substantial.
Everything I Told You About Mosaic Art Is Wrong
Artist Apryl Howard sent me some pictures of her recent Arizona Sunset Mosaic, and it is the exception to several “rules” I have recommended over the years. It is also a great silhouette landscape that captures the color of light and is worth seeing merely for inspiration and ideas for your own artwork.
The Importance of Contrast: Mosaic Sign Case Study
Contrast is critical for creating images that catch the eye and text that is readable.
A mosaic sign recently completed by Ann Mitchell is a great example of the importance of contrast and the rewards of looking at your work in an objective way and reworking problem areas.
Making Detailed Mosaic Images Using Whole Uncut Tile
To make detailed mosaic images using whole uncut tile, you need to use a tiny brand, such as the 8mm Recycled Glass Mosaic Tile by Morjo™ that we sell. You also need to make sure the image is large enough to accommodate the level of detail.
The Tree Mosaic recently completed by artist Robert Friedlander is good example of the relationships between the size of the tile, the size of the details to be rendered, and the size of the image as a whole.
It made me very happy when Robert told me that the mosaic was made with our new Morjo brand., but I was even more excited by how successful the project was in terms of contrast and visual impact and it being a good teaching example of how to use rows of whole tile without a rigid grid.
Creating Motion Using Curved Andamento
Artists can create a sense of motion in their mosaics by using concentric curved rows of tile, especially in the background around figures.
To me this use of andamento* is one of the most interesting aspects of mosaic, and it is an easy way for novices to make art that really engages the eye. I used this technique in the first mosaic I ever made, and when I used a photo of that mosaic to make our logo, I blacked out the figure of the fire bird to emphasize how much of the sense of motion was creation was created by the andamento in the background.
*The Joy of Shards mosaic website defines andamento as the visual flow and direction within a mosaic produced by the placement of rows of tesserae (pieces of tile).