This technique has been applied since the oldest times to make floor, wall or movable mosaics. This method consists in putting the tesserae directly in their definitive binding layer. The works is gradually done “day by day”, which means that the tesserae are inserted in the binder in small portions. This procedure needs a big experience and good manual skills, because once you put the cement on the support, the underlying drawing is covered. That is the reason why you proceed in small portions, following the guidelines of the drawing..
The tesserae of the mosaic are made of smalti, polychrome marbles, and gold, they are cut one by one by hand with hammers and cutters and they create every time new and inimitable lights and colours. Marble is the most malleable material and it has more chromatic varieties. It is widely used for wall mosaics, it gives softness and warm, natural light colours, thanks to its shades.
Glass materials reflect light and have a remarkable chromatic variety, therefore they are widely used for wall mosaics, panels, sculptures and mosaic objects. They are artificially made in specialized labs and they are obtained though glass fusion.
Generically defined “smalti” they should be divided into three categories: glass paste, smalti and glass paste with gold or silver foils.
Glass pastes are lead-free glasses which are quite transparent and homogenous. Their colour is obtained adding colorants obtained by metallic pigments.
True smalti are obtained by glass fusion with lead, oxides and metallic salts. In comparison with glass pastes, they are more opaque and have a wider chromatic range. Thanks to the addition of lead, they are easier to cut, because they splinter less and are especially bright. For micro-mosaics fused smalti in thin sticks are usually used. They are cut in very small tesserae with special nippers.
Glass pastes with metallic foils are made with a 5-10 mm thick glass plate and a very thin metal foil, generally made of gold or silver. A thin blown glass layer is laid on top of the metallic foil, called “Cartellina”, in order to protect the metallic foil from oxidation. Then it is fired to make the thee layers adhere.
In order to make the various materials of the tesserae adhere to the support, some binders are used to protect the mosaic artwork in the course of time. In the past mastic or lime were used: the Greeks used a mixture of aerial lime, brick powder and volcanic soil, the Romans added sometimes marble powder, gravel and Pozzolana cement.
In the Middle Ages, mosaicists used hydraulic lime and in most recent times the hydraulic cement called Portland. Today mosaicists use hydraulic cements and synthetic resins. The glues are used to add more adhesion to the binder or to temporarily detach the mosaic from its base or during the restorations. There are various types of glues and synthetic resins.
The substances added to the binder to modify its action are called additives and are meant to slow down or accelerate the adhering process, to fluidize the surface or make it waterproof, to plastify or harden it.
All the mosaic artworks made in our artistic studio can be made on request.
All our mosaics are unique pieces and therefore their realization and delivery schedule vary according to the work done and to its complexity. In order to have further information about the prices and time frames, please contact us by email, phone or come and visit us in our lab.