Mosaic Tips and Tricks - Andamento - Veronika Zeil
Veronika's weekly blog about tips and tricks for mosaic artists
Mosaic, Andamento, Tesserae, Opus
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Mosaic Tips and Tricks – Andamento

Mosaic Blog: Today is all about the flow of your mosaic surface

Let us start by defining some terms used by mosaic artists.

Andamento is the way tesserae are cut and placed, according to size, regularity of grout line, flow and in relation to each other. Tesserae are the mosaic cube or tile, interstices are the grout gaps, course is a row of tesserae, field is an area of tesserae that relates through colour or tone, opus is the surface covering style in a mosaic.

In the studio, we mostly talk about the “line”: an identifiable path, moving in space, varying in direction, in width and in length. The line has poetry and is an extension of your individual personality and soul. Your image is your foreground and the negative space around the image your background. How we read an image depends on the network of lines that form foreground and background.

Below are some samples of foreground and background treatments.

 

 

Opus regulatum the grid pattern of regulatum has achieved good results on large scale mosaics, in particular laying tiles like computer pixels to achieve some amazing photorealistic mosaics. Regulatum also reduces the cost of covering large areas.

 

 

Opus Tesselatum Tesselatum involves using the tiles to form a basic regular pattern in brick pattern style which immediately introduces an element of direction into the tile laying

 

 

Opus Vermiculatum -Vermiculatum, from the Latin ‘worm-like’ is the most expressive form of mosaic tile laying. The tesserae are laid along the contours of the image, describing its form, the whole image is given a dynamic power that is unique to mosaics.

 

Opus Classicum-The technique combines opus tesselatum with vermiculatum. The main objects of a design are created in vermiculatum and these are placed on a more regular, tessellated, background. Where the two meet, the background takes the form of the object, so each object has a background halo around it. This technique creates a very strong sharp and clear image.

 

Opus Palladianum -This technique gives a more modern feel. The tesserae are cut into haphazard shapes and laid like crazy paving. This buzzing texture is also used for backgrounds but is labour intensive if done well.

 

 

Opus Sectile -This technique is used extensively in Islamic tile design where it is known as ‘Zillij’. The tiles, usually larger glazed ceramic tiles are cut into shapes that describe the form of the foreground.

 

 

Opus Musivum -This opus accentuates texture, reflectivity and pattern in differing sizes of tesserae

 

 

 

 

There are some guiding principles which help you look at your work in a different light and explore your individual path in mosaic. Look at a space and build pathways rather than thinking of filling a space. Remember to respect and observe each plain on each tesserae, discard or recut awkward pieces, line up tesserae and concentrate on the line not on filling a space. The Golden rule when creating your pathways and lines: edges of each tesserae need to line up with corners of last stone laid.
Space within your artwork can be seen as something organic or something random, can be highly organized, can be left bare or can be cut out as in free form shapes. Your chosen style of Andamento is a tool: you can place your material with as much freedom and as much control as you choose for each individual artwork.

 

Remember to work in lines leading in all directions: respect the line, get control of it and then celebrate the freedom.

 

There are some guiding principles which help you look at your work in a different light and explore your individual path in mosaic. Look at a space and build pathways rather than thinking of filling a space. Remember to respect and observe each plain on each tesserae, discard or recut awkward pieces, line up tesserae and concentrate on the line not on filling a space. The Golden rule when creating your pathways and lines: edges of each tesserae need to line up with corners of last stone laid.

Space within your artwork can be seen as something organic or something random, can be highly organized, can be left bare or can be cut out as in free form shapes. Your chosen style of Andamento is a tool: you can place your material with as much freedom and as much control as you choose for each individual artwork.

 

Remember to work in lines leading in all directions: respect the line, get control of it and then celebrate the freedom.

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