MosaicBlues: December 2009 .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Mosaics of El Djem, Tunisia

El Djem (Arabic: قصر الجمّ ; Latin Thysdrus) a town in Eastern Tunisia, is home to the world’s second largest Roman theater, and of a very rich collection of Roman mosaics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

On the outskirts of the city a museum houses many mosaics from excavations in the rich Roman villas of Thysdrus

Many pieces found on this site are kept at the Bardo National Museum and the Sousse Museum.

Mosaics continue to be the main source of artistic attraction of El Djem. The city houses a range of large and small workshops producing both traditional and innovative works.

The MOsaics of El Djem, Tunisia

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Making of a Mosaic - Episode II

Once finished laying the stones upside down, I sprinkle them with a thin layer of grout and spray them with water. After a few hours I follow up with a coat of thinset. I like to mix the thinset with an acrylic additive, to improve its resilience and adhesive power.

This is a small windrose tabletop ready to be filled with thinset. You can see the difference in thickness of the different materials. the black granite is about 5/16" (8 mm) thick, while the red glass is about 1/8" (3 mm) thick. The direct method would not allow such disparity in thickness.

I finally cover the thinset with a structural material,  - I like commercial concrete backing boards used to cover bathroom walls to be laid with ceramic tiles.

I let it dry for at least 48 hours before flipping the piece. This is important. I have damaged some pieces for I was to eager to see them. The thinset needs time to solidify and release moisture. The does not really depends on temperature. It simply needs time.

I wrote somewhere else that the flipping of a mosaic is a very exciting thing, like a birth.  In a few seconds, you see what you created. It is very different from the  direct way, where you set the stones one by one and see your work appear little by little. Here, it is more like a birth; suddenly, the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis.

Here is the Olive Mirror right after being flipped.

Now we are almost done; in "Making of a Mosaic - Episode III", we will complete our work.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saint George and the Dragon - Mosaic by Frederic Lecut

The town of Silene in Lybia had a lake, where a Dragon decided to nest. To keep him quiet the town people used to feed the Dragon a sheep every day. As they ran out of sheep, they started to feed him maidens chosen by lottery.

When the lot fell on the king's daughter, the king begged the people to spare her; to no avail.

St George and the Dragon, Mosaic by Frederic Lecut 

The daughter was taken to the lake, dressed up as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.

Saint George happened to be riding there. When the Dragon emerged from the water Saint George crossed himself, charged him, and wounded him with his spear.

The Princess and Saint George led the Dragon back to town where Saint George slayed him .

The grateful citizens abandoned paganism and converted to Christianity. On the site where the Dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease.

Details of the Dragon's Head - Travertines, Black Marble, Granite and Terra Cotta

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Making of a Mosaic - Episode I

There are different technics to create mosaics. So far I have used the reversed way, I create my mosaics upside down, because it enables me to use materials of various thickness.

First you design a pattern. Here I protected the paper pattern with a sheet of transparent plastic, this makes it easier to clean up the stones during the finishing phase.

Then you set the tesserae (pieces of stones, glass, ceramic) upside down, and glue them onto the pattern with a water soluble glue. As you can see here and on the next view, The reverse method makes it possible to use tesserae of different thickness.

In order to minimize the weight of my mosaics, I like to use the thinner possible materials. However, stones do not always collaborate. Stones of different kind have different personalities. Granites are hard, but can be cut in any directions, Slates are very smooth, but tend to not cooperate, Travertines ans marbles are softer, but are difficult to cut under 1/8th of an inch, Glass cannot really be cut with a saw as stones can be...

See the end of this work on Making of a Mosaic - Episode II

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Leroux Blason

This is a commission for my friends Grant and Claire Leroux. Grant's Grandfather was born in the area of Boulogne in Northen France. Leroux is a famous name in that Area.  It  is usually used for someone who's ancestor had red hair, or wsa using a red panache as a crest on his helmet.

Grant and Claire asked me to reproduce their coat of arm. This piece is about 3 feet tall,  its back ground made of Beige travertine, the details are of red terra cota, black and grey granites and ocre marble.

The Mosaic was installed behind their sink in their beautiful kitchen, the warm overhead light reflected on the black granite slab used as countertop make the texture and color of the stone appear much richer and more enjoyable than they do under the daylight of the first picture. 

It is very important to visualize a mosaic in its final location. Inside lighting with incandescent or halogen bulbs usually brings more warmth to the work.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli

Want to see some amazing Mosaics ?

Plan a trip to Italy. I went there in June 2008 with two friends.  We visited Ravena and Spilimbergo, a small medieval town 2 hours north of Venice, notably known as “the Town of Mosaic”, home to the famous Mosaic School, officially founded in 1922.

The school has inherited the great mosaic tradition of Rome, Byzantium, Venice and Aquileia. Nowadays Spilimbergo is the world  capital of ornamental mosaic.

Works of her students of several workshops in town have enriched airports, universities, royal palaces, public, private and religious buildings, stadiums, all over the world.

The Back entrance to the School : 2 beautiful panels flank the school side entrance door. Doves, grapevine twigs and leaves on a golden background. A definite influence from the Byzantine times.

And then you push the door open ...

 The Entrance Hallway...

These floors are amazing. The mosaics are laid according to the Direct Method, then sanded to a very smooth and shiny polish. The artistic quality as well as the finish are just extraordinary, and way above the most beautiful Roman or Greek realizations of the beginning of the Christian Era.