Choosing and Installing Mosaics
A creative game under your own rules
Mosaic is known for a long time as an art technique and it found its application both in interior and exterior design. In short, it can be defined as a skill of harmonious compatibility and nesting different pieces made of various materials in order to get a certain picture or a decoration.
Even today, some relatively preserved samples dating back to 3.000 BC exist, which is fascinating and tells a lot about its longevity. Materials used back then were stones of different colours which were carved manually, shells and ivory which were stamped into mortar. In time, the manufacturing technique has been developed and the old Greeks breathed in new life to mosaics around 8th century BC and accomplished the technique of making and fitting, as well as adding geometrical patterns.
The technique has been later accepted by the old Romans who spread across the Mediterranean and the Roman Empire. Since then, mosaics have been often used in representative and public premises and sacred architecture where it experienced a special boom during the Byzantine Empire.
In time, as the technology of production developed, mosaics started to be used for decorating individual, residential premises where also, according to the space, its unique beauty and functionality has been expressed. Nowadays, there is practically no area in final decoration where mosaics is more or less present. What characterizes mosaics and what makes it unavoidable in decoration today? On the first place, there is its unique and irreproducible beauty and then its functionality.
The effects obtained by using mosaics are not possible with any other material. It is said that it is not really possible to photograph mosaics because a photo cannot visualize the game and refraction of light which is visible only when mosaics is observed live.
Depending on the type of material and its appearance it is possible to achieve rustic as well as modern impression which brings to the fact that mosaics is still used in classic and in modern interiors. Also, practically there are no limitation as far as usage is concerned. It can be placed on the floors, walls, ceilings, on flat and curved surfaces, in the damp spaces and in dry parts of interiors, on different pieces of furniture, in public and residential premises, etc. It can also be part of exterior decoration and it can be placed on façades, pools, lots, staircases, fountains, etc.
There are two basic techniques of mosaic installing
Using direct method, the pieces of chosen material are glued on the surface. That is the primary technique of making mosaics which demands a lot of effort, patience and knowledge, so that today is present mostly in art. Also known is so called technique of Venetian mosaics where out of pieces and remains of different tiles, certain décor is manually made. In classic civil engineering indirect method is used, which is excelled lately. Pieces of mosaics are laid onto an auxiliary surface (30x30cm) using a machine, and then transferred onto a desired surface.
The later technique is much faster and less demanding. The major requirement when installing is that the surface onto which mosaics is placed be compact and smooth. The pieces of mosaics are of small thickness, the glass ones are only 3mm, and under them is not possible to post-add glue to correct contingent roughness as with installment of standard ceramics because it would cause the whole surface not being of uniform and monolithic appearance.
The installing itself demands from the construction workers patience, precision and experience. Except that, there are no special technical demands. The glue for transparent glass mosaics has to be based on white cement to achieve the satisfying effect. It is also important to dose the amount of glue on which the mosaics is placed. Too little glue will cause bad adhesion and separation of pieces and too much glue will cause the glue to run out on the joints which is very difficult to clean afterwards. With proven and experienced construction workers these things do not appear as problems.
Materials used for mosaics are traditional, like stone, ceramics, glass and porcelain and contemporary materials such as wood, metal and composite materials. Dimensions can be very small (3-4mm) to 10x10cm and the shapes can be standard (square) and also rounded, ellipsoid or hexagonal. Final machining can be mat, half-mat or shiny, but also transparent in different colours and nuances.
Mosaics are resistant to high and low temperatures and are simple for maintenance and therefore they are used for decorating pools, fountains, bathrooms and spaces for relaxation making them look representational. Mosaics are especially used for decorating curved surfaces, such as columns which, out of unwanted part of space, become luxurious details after decoration. It is also very effective when it is necessary to stress out certain surface in a space.
The prices of mosaics vary a lot. There are different producers, unknown as well as well-known, which is good, because appropriate pieces can be found which suit all. Some of the well-known are Sicis, Bizzaca, Appiani, Mosaico +, Trend, etc.
When choosing mosaics, certain things should be taken care of. If you take a one-coloured, shiny piece do not place ceramics mosaics in mat finish next to it, because you can smooth the space. With high brightness you can put a nice glass mosaics or a ceramic one which is glazed like the existing piece. It is nice to combine ceramics mosaics with mat tiles which remind of stone, marble or of one-coloured tile.
Try to avoid close nuances. This rule does not apply only to mosaics, but to interiors in general. If you take mosaics from one factory and the tiles from the other one choose contrasted colours and not the similar ones. If you take similar nuances they will be constantly in conflict. If a room has all surfaces covered in mosaics, it is good to combine one-coloured and multi-coloured mosaics so as the space is not dull and to achieve the playfulness.
The interesting thing with mosaics is that you can play with them and achieve the results you wanted. With mosaics placed on nets, you can make various patterns and even pictures. Some factories offer a possibility of making a picture or a decoration in mosaics. They transfer a picture onto the net and a constructor’s task is only to place the mosaics as a sort of a puzzle.
You can also find a detail you like, stylize or simplify the picture and make it on the spot. This kind of placing the mosaics goes under art and demands for time and preciseness. If you would like just a border made in mosaics you can make that also. Choose a colour which will be a foundation and the colours that will make the pattern and there’s a border which will look beautiful in the space with classic borders.
In the end, if you want to achieve the effect of minimalism it is enough to choose a one-colour or mixed mosaics which will go well in the combination with tiles you have chosen and then place it on the spot which can be displayed as a detail. Whether it will be the whole wall, or just a part of the wall is your personal choice.