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A Brief History Of Mosaics

Here at Hobby Island Mosaics we’re passionate about the craft of mosaic art. It isn’t a recent phenomenon and we want everyone to appreciate this art form and where it came from, so we thought we’d spark some interest by giving you a brief overview of the history of mosaics…

What is a mosaic?

A mosaic is an image created by assembling small pieces of glass, ceramic, stone or other materials to form a picture, with these tesserae (or more commonly known as mosaic tiles) usually being roughly square in shape and coming in a whole range of colours to suit specific designs. A mosaic might be used in interior design schemes, it might have cultural significance or it could simply be a piece of decorative art in its own right, with patterns being as intricate and varied as you can imagine.

The origin of mosaics

Mosaics are thought to go back some 4,000 years or more, with the earliest known examples being Chinese. These carefully-arranged pebble mosaics were used mainly as pavements, being relatively unstructured in design despite the use of different coloured stones, whilst the Sumerians pushed terracotta cone-shaped rods into walls and pillars to create geometric patterns. Meanwhile, in Aztec culture, ceremonial objects and masks were adorned with precious stones, but it wasn’t until around the fourth century BC when the Greeks raised the humble mosaic into an art form.

Mosaic designs became more and more intricate over the next few centuries with precise geometric patterns being created as well as highly detailed scenes of animals and people—stone tesserae became specifically manufactured with some pieces being just a few millimetres in size, meaning mosaics now had the ability to resemble intricate paintings. The Romans took this one step further with their mosaics being built into pavements, walls and even ceilings, with images of their gods, war depictions and scenes from everyday life as well as complex geometric patterns being commonplace. Techniques became refined and tesserae more varied, with them now being produced from pottery, terracotta, glass and even gold.

Mosaic as a craft

Mosaics have been popular in decoration and architecture ever since, but it’s only relatively recently that this art form has turned into a crafting activity. These days anyone can have a go at creating a mosaic with everything from marble mosaic tiles to stunning iridescent tiles being available, offering far more than the traditional stone options of centuries gone by, and you can create anything from a piece of jewellery to a mirror surround depending on your preferences. If you want to get in on the action all you’ll need is a suitable mosaic tile shop (such as us) to supply you with your materials and you’re good to go, so what are you waiting for? Mosaics have an incredibly rich history and there’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time, so make sure to take a look around for a few supplies and you could have a go at this most historic of art forms for yourself.

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