MosaicBlues: 2017 .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Monday, November 13, 2017

Changing platform

Our new Mosaic-Blues website is under construction to better reflect the evolution of Mosaicblues over the past 3 years. It will be fully operational next January.


This change of platform will also affect this blog. While the previous posts will still be available on this site, I will begin publishing on the new blog this week. You will keep receiving notifications of the new posts by email. The physical aspect of the blog will change but its scope and spirit will still be about the Techniques, History, Stories and Lies of Mosaic Art !

Yours in Mosaics  

ISIS tried to sell me a Mosaic looted from a Syrian Museum.

In January 2016 I received through Facebook Messenger a message from Turkey. The author was offering to sell me a mosaic - supposedly excavated from the area of Hatay Antakya (Ancient Antioch) - which had been discarded by the archaeologists. The offer came with pictures. 

Screenshot messenger offer

When I saw how beautiful the mosaic was I could not believe anybody with common sense could have discarded it ! 

Mosaic offered to me through Messenger

I quickly suspected this piece had been stolen. 

I tried to engage the man trying to sell this piece.
He answered to me in Italian and suggested I get in touch with him though a WhatsApp telephone number.

Messenger Communication

In the meantime a search for "Roman Mosaic of Syria" brought up the description of the actual mosaic in the book "Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World" by Katherine M.D.Dunbabin.

Thetys from Shahba Museum

To Balty’s later group (of mosaics) from Shahba belongs an astonishing bust of the Sea-Goddess Tethys... Fish entangled in her hair, a sea dragon coiled around her neck, and she holds a steering oar. The figure of the Sea Goddess occurs frequently on mosaics of the region of Antioch, but never with the power shown here: almost to large for the frame, the figure dominates the small room where it is set. The characteristics of the «Constantinian renascence» are apparent in the broad smooth surfaces and the careful delineation, for instance of the wide opened eyes; but the combination of the massive force of the face and the restlessness of the dark hair makes this work of exceptional quality. Around it, a wide border shows Erotes in boats and fishing, on a sea marked by broad bands of colour.

From there I was able to find professional pictures of the mosaic and confirmed the piece had actually been looted from the museum.

Thetys mosaic stolen from the Shahba Museum in Syria

Detail of the stolen Thetys mosaic.

CBS News' article Following the trail of Syria's looted history describes how artifacts looted by ISIS or under the authority of ISIS regularly end up on the antiquities markets in London, Paris or even New York.

I went to the FBI website to report this matter and have not heard anything about it.

I am a French mosaicist living in Headland, Alabama, USA. My Art is about inspiring people. You can see some of my work  at 

You can contact me at (334) 798 1639 
or by email at  

You can also subscribe to my

Saturday, November 4, 2017

How to build a cement board platform to mount your mosaics.

Many mosaics are mounted on plywood, a material easily cut and shaped. However wood can warp and deteriorate with humidity; which is why I mount most of pieces on cement backing boards reinforced by a wooden frame in the manner of the framed canvas used by painters.

This technique, which I describe below, allows for lightweight and resistant boards.

Material needed : 

hardie backer cement boards
Hardiebacker boards
1/2 inch yellow pine wood boards
1/2" pine boads

self threading flat head screw
self threading screw

exterior wood glue
Exterior wood glue

Tools needed : 
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge board or ruler
  • Pencil 
  • Miter or hand saw 
  • Circular saw with diamond blade 
  • Cordless electric screwdriver

    Measuring tape

carpenter pencils

Circular saw
      Cordless screwdriver

      Miter Saw


        Once you have measured your mosaic, create a support 1/4" bigger in each dimension. If your mosaic measures 20 x 30 inch, your board should be 20.25 x 30.25 inch. 

        Cut your wood boards to fit these dimensions. 

        If you are using 1 x 2 inch boards, which actually measure 0.75 x 1.5 inch (Welcome to America), you will cut 2 boards at 20.25 inch and 2 boards at 27.25 inch (30.25 - 2 x 1.5 = 27.25). You will adjust based on the actual dimensions...

        If your mosaic is bigger than 3 square foot, I recommend to use additional boards as I did on this frame. 

        Once all your cuts are made, assemble the wood and cement board with wood glue and screws, let the glue set, et voila ! 

        The whole process is described in the video.

        Notes : 

        Cement board : 1/4" Hardiebacdker is the best board I could easily find in the US. In Europe, I use Wedi Boards a much better product, just as strong and much lighter. But it is more expensive and difficult to procure in the US.

        Cutting the cement board : If you do not have a circular saw, you can use a scorer to mark and snap the Hardie board. This is the method recommended by the manufacturer. However, I prefer the clean cut made by the saw.

        Wood boards : I use 1 x 2" yellow pine for most of my mosaics. I have used heavier lumber for bigger mosaics (1 x 3 or 1 x 4. If your mosaic is installed outdoor, you should use treated lumber.

        Wood Glue : it is important to not just use screws. The wood glue creates a very strong bond between concrete and wood, which is what we are trying to achieve.

        Questions ? Contact me at

        I am a French mosaicist
        living in Headland, Alabama, USA.
        My Art is about inspiring people.
        You can see some of my work 

        You can contact me either by phone 
        at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 

        You can also subscribe to my 
        MosaicBlues Newsletter


        Wednesday, November 1, 2017

        Meet the Parents : Mosaic Portrait of Natalie and Aaron

        Last week I wrote about the portrait of Lane and Ella. 

        moisac portrait of ella and Lane, glass, reverse method, 18 x 18", 2013.
        Mosaic Portrait of Lane and Ella

        Aaron had commissioned this mosaic in 2013 as a Mother's day present for Natalie. 

        Today, I would like you to meet their parents Natalie and Aaron. Natalie commissioned this portrait in 2016 for their 10th anniversary !

        Mosaic realized in Reverse method, all glass construction, borders are Murano GLass.
        Mosaic portrait of Natalie and Aaron

        I have known Natalie and Aaron for close to 20 years when the 3 of us where practicing Karate. Being myself in Auburn to judge a testing last week end they invited me to share their meal (Great cooking, they raise their own chickens and grow vegetables in their yard, just like I do in Headland !) and our friend Julie (the Deer Hunter) took this great picture of the three of us under the mosaic !

        The mosaicist, the models and the mosaic.
        Fred, Natalie and Aaron and their mosaic.

        Do they look happy or what ?

        To commission a mosaic portrait, you can contact me at :

        I am a French mosaicist

        living in Headland, Alabama, USA.

        My Art is about inspiring people.

        You can see some of my work 

        You can contact me either by phone 

        at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 

        You can also subscribe to my


        Friday, October 27, 2017

        Long-lost Roman Mosaic built for Caligula and smuggled to the US finally returns to Italy.

        The destiny of Works of Art can be surprising !

        In the 2015 movie Woman in Gold an elderly Jewish refugeefights the Austrian Government to reclaim a portrait by Gustav Klimt of her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, portrait which had been stolen by the Nazis prior to World War II.

        This painting, stolen by the Nazis right before World War II, was returned to its righful owner in 2014.
        Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt

        Closer to us, last September, prosecutors seized in New York City a piece of floor mosaic from one of Roman Emperor Caligula’s opulent private ships discovered in 1928 by Italian Archaeologists.

        The barge was sunk after Caligila's assassination and retrieved from Lake Nemi in 1928.
        One of Caligula's ship discovered in 1928.

        The mosaic,
        stolen from an Italian museum during World War II was in the possession of an antiques dealer of New York. She had bought it in good faith in the 60’s from an aristocratic Italian family and was unaware of its origins.

        For much of the past five decades, the four-by-four piece of mosaic - featuring a complex geometric pattern made of pieces of green and red porphyry, serpentine and molded glass - had been sitting in their Park Avenue apartment, where it was used it as a coffee table.

        This mosaic, stolen from an Italian museum during World War II, was returned to Italy in 2017.
        The mosaic retrieved from the Caligula Ship

        Caligula, whose real name was Gaius Julius Caesar, was emperor between 37 and 41 AD. His short rule came to a bloody end when he was assassinated by officers of the Praetorian Guard, amid a revolt over his terrible behaviour and reckless spending.

        The mosaic is on its way back to Italy.

        In a next post I’ll tell you about a Roman mosaic looted from a Syrian museum by ISIS, which a Turkish smuggler proposed to sell me.

        I was contacted by a smuggler from Turkey who asked if I was interested to purchase this mosaic.
        Mosaic stolen from a Syrian Museum.

        I am a French mosaicist

        living in Headland, Alabama, USA.

        My Art is about inspiring people.

        You can see some of my work 

        You can contact me either by phone 

        at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 

        You can also subscribe to my


        Sunday, October 22, 2017

        A mosaic portrait of two happy children

        In May 2013, I created a mosaic portrait of Ella and Lane, the children of my good friends Natalie and Aaron from Auburn, Alabama.

        mosaic portrtait of two young children, 18 x 18", glass, May 2013,
        Mosaic Portrait of Ella and Lane

        in 2014, Natalie sent me a picture of the kids under their portrait ! 

        Both  CHildren are showing the original pictures used to create the model.
        The kids under their mosaic portrait

        The first thing you see when you come into the house is the gorgeous smile of the kids on the mosaic on the wall facing the entrance door !

        Last week end, as I was bringing them a small mosaic derived from my Miura Project, Aaron invited me to share their meal (Great Hamburgers and grilled chicken) and he took this picture of the kids and me under the mosaic ! 

        Fred the mosaicist and Ella and Lane standing under their mosaic portrait
        Fred, Ella, Lane, under their mosaic portrait.

        Knowing that people I appreciate enjoy my art daily is very rewarding to me. I feel I am contributing something positive to their family. Art should be present in everybody's daily life. We mostly remember ancient civilizations and cultures for the creations of their artists and architects.

        If you would like to commission a mosaic portrait, you can contact me at :

        In one of my next posts, I'll tell you of the other portrait I created for Natalie and Aaron. 

        I am a French mosaicist
        living in Headland, Alabama, USA.
        My Art is about inspiring people.
        You can see some of my work 

        You can contact me either by phone 
        at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 
        You can also subscribe to my

        Thursday, October 19, 2017

        3 mosaiques romaines : un chat, deux canards et une perdrix.

        L'etude des mosaiques romaines revele enormement de choses sur la vie quotidienne des nos ancetres, et egalement sur la maniere dont travaillaient les mosaicistes antiques.

        Je suis persuade que nos ancetres utilisaient des livres - catalogues de dessins pour montrer a leur clients ce qu'ils pourraient executer pour eux. Sur ce sujet, j'ai ecrit il y a quelques temps un article sur la Mona Lisa de Galilee et sa copie.

        Voici a present trois superbes pieces qui illustrent fort bien comment les artistes de l'Antiquite se copiaient, ou peut etre s'empruntaient les modeles de leurs oeuvres.

        Superbe mosaique en deux tableaux representant un chat attaquant une perdrix et deux canards mageant des fleurs de Lotus
        Mosaique de sol. Villa du quartier romain de Cecchignola

        Emblème d'une mosaïque de sol représentant un chat et deux canards. Opus vermiculatum, œuvre romaine de la fin de l'époque républicaine, premier quart du Ier siècle av. J.-C. Visible au Musee national de Rome - Pallazo Massimo alle Terme 

        Superbe mosaique en deux tableaux representant un chat attaquant une perdrix et deux canards mageant des fleurs de Lotus assis a cote de fruits de mers et oiseaux prets a cuire
        Mosaique de sol, Maison du Faune, Pompei

        Mosaique provenant du Triclinium de la Maison du Faune a Pompeii, visible au Musee Archeologique de Naples (Museo Archeologico Nazionale - inv. nr. 9993).

        Emblema mosaique, opus vermiculatum, Musee du Vatican
        Mosaique de sol, Musee du Vatican

        Mosaique de provenance inconnue visible au Musee du Vatican.

        Ces trois pieces sont clairement apparentees. Leur architecture est similaire. Elles sont composees de deux tableaux superposes. Dans le tableau superieur, un chat attaque un oiseau, dans le tableau inferieur, deux canards vivants sont en accompagnes de divers mets - fruits, fleurs, fruits de mer et/ou petits oiseaux.

        Ce type de mosaique "Emblema" etaient produits par des maitres artisans employes dans des ateliers tres specialises. Une fois terminees, elles etaient expediees pour etre inserees in situ au sein d'autres mosaiques de facture moins complexe.

        Les experts s'accordent a penser qu'il devait au 1er siecle n'exister que deux de ces ateliers, probablement en Grece, et en Syrie ou Turquie.  

        Je pense que les deux pieces de Pompeii et Ceccigniola furent executees dans le meme atelier, peut etre par le meme artiste, et que la piece du Musee du Vatican fut realisee plus tardivement par un artiste de moindre abilete. 

        Comment les dessins passerent-ils de l'un a l'autre ? Je pense que les mosaicistes de l'antiquite disposaient de livres - catalogues de dessins transmis de Maitre a Apprentis ou copies, avec ou sans permission, par les artisans charges d'installer in situ les emblema expediees depuis l'atelier de production. 

        Si vous avez des connaissances sur ce sujet, merci de bien vouloir les partager ! 

         Je suis un mosaïste Français 

        vivant a Headland en Alabama 

        dans le Sud des Etats Unis. 

        J'aime inspirer les gens. 

        Vous pouvez voir mon travail a

        Vous pouvez me contacter 

        par téléphone au (334) 798 1639 

        ou par e-mail a  

        Vous pouvez aussi vous abonner 

        a ma lettre d'information  

        Sunday, October 15, 2017

        How to create several mosaic portraits from one model.

        Opus Pixellatum allows for an amazing range of variations and improvisations.

        To illustrate this versatility, I have worked from an actual model of a mosaic portrait I have executed several times.  

        Actual tiles are glued on top of model to realize the mosaic.
        Green Eyes, opus pixellatum, 6 levels Grayscale

        This model is designed on a six levels gray scale. The numbers are the references of Mosaic Art Supply "elementile 8 mm" recycled glass tiles. The mosaic once complete would measure 13 x 27". This mosaic is what you would obtain if you would scrupulously use the references printed on the model.

        While the model calls for set colors, the mosaicist has all latitude to change them to fit his creativity and fantasy.

        He can for example decide to change the colors from a Gray Scale to a Blue Scale.

        From Gray to Blue Scale.

        This is the simplest change that the mosaicist can use.

        Other modes of variations can use 2 different scales. In this combination of a Blue and an Orange Scale, the respective darknesses of colors has been respected.

        In this variation, the progression of darkness is respected.
        Variation # 6

        In this one, however, the progression in darkness is different for the colored scale than it is for the gray scale.

        Here, the progrssion of Darkness is not respected.
        Variation # 1

        There are many more possibilities as illustrated below.

        Opus Pixellatum Pop Art mosaic portrait model-simulation, light tones.
        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #1

        In the piece below, only every other tesserae are laid in accordance to the grayscale of the original model. then, the other tesserae are laid, the colors progress from Red on the Left to Blue on the Right.

        Pixellized Pop Art mosaic portrait of a veiled woman's Eyes
        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #2

        The progression of colors in Variation #3 is similar to the Variation #1, with warmer tones.

        Opus Pixellatum Pop Art mosaic eyes portrait simulation, light colors.
        Green Eyes mosaic, Variation #3

        #4 has brighter colors.

        Pop Art Greeneyes mosaic portrait simulation - Bright.
        Green Eyes mosaic, Variation #4

        On #5 based on #3, every other tile is filled with a gray color.

        Pop Art Greeneyes mosaic portrait simulation - half the tiles erased and filled with light gray color.
        Green Eyes mosaic, Variation #5

        #6 is a different repartition of brighter colors, still Blues, Yellows and Reds

        Pop Art Greeneyes mosaic portrait simulation - Brightest
        Green Eyes mosaic, Variation #6

        In #7 based on #5, a gradient of colors has filled up every other tile.

        half the tiles original colors erased and replaced by a color gradient
        Green Eyes mosaic, Variation#7

        #8 is a brighter, more contrasted version of #7

        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #8

        The filling gradient of #9 is darker than the one of #8

        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #9

        # 10 uses Green tones instead of the previous Blues used in #2 to #9

        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #10

        In #11 the lower veils is using reds where as the top of the image is similar to the top of #10

        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #11

        A totally different type of variation consists in the superposition of two layers of different images. In the 3 following examples, I have used an opus tessellatum image on top of the Opus Pixellatum. 

        Superposition of 2 images in a modern mosaic portrait model
        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variaton #12

        Practically, this is done by first building the opus tesselatum piece by gluing the tesserae on top of a vinyl sheet that covers the tesselatum model, once this done, the mosaicists removes the Tesselatum model and inserts the Pixellatum model under the vinyl, and resume the execution of the mosaic, following the design of the Pixellatum model.

        Opus Pixellatum and Tesselatum combination in Mosaic Portrait.
        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #13

        This may sound a little complicated, it is not really. I Plan to teach this technique during a seminar next spring.

        Combination of Opus Pixellatum and Tessellatum on mosaic eyes portrait
        Green Eyes Mosaic, Variation #14

        Opus Pixellatum allows for a formidable array of variations. Only your imagination is the limit. Several of my students have experimented and obtained amazing results with this technique (Click here for my Post on Daniel Adams).

        I encourage you to give it a try. 

        I will email you, for free, the Gray scale Model at the top of this article.

        Just contact me at

        You just have it printed and get to work !

        I am a French mosaicist

        living in Headland, Alabama, USA.

        My Art is about inspiring people.

        You can see some of my work at

        You can contact me either by phone 

        at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 

        You can also subscribe to my