Mosaics Tiles and Techniques
Three Methods of Making Mosaics
There are three basic ways of constructing a tiled mosaic. These are called the “Direct”, the “Indirect” and the “Double Indirect Methods“. Each has its pros and cons and is suited to a particular set of circumstances. In the following paragraphs we give an explanation of how to use each of these these techniques.
The Direct Method of Making Mosaics
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The Indirect Method of Making Mosaics
The “Indirect Method” of making mosaics is completely different in concept to the “Direct Method”. The essential difference is that the mosaic tiling is carried out in a two-step process. The first stage of the work is “Indirect”, because the mosaic tiles (tesserae) are not set directly into their final location, but are first attached to a temporarily backer sheet, in accordance with a mirror image of the design There are several variations to this method, but all involve setting up the mosaic tiles (tesserae) in a reversed (upside down) position initially, with the bright faces hidden from the artists view. .
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Double Indirect Method of Making Mosaics
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Roman Techniques for Making Mosaics
The indirect method of making mosaics is eminently suited for constructing large flat mosaic panels in halls and other buildings and has a very long history, dating all the way back to Ancient Rome. We believe that the Roman mosaic artists almost certainly used a version of the Indirect Method for most of their spectacular mosaic work. Their projects were often constructed on a vast scale and the indirect method would have been the obvious choice for the huge floors of palaces and for the ubiquitous Roman Baths, as it would have allowed for the work to be divided up into manageable portions for efficient construction. A single creative artist, working with one or two master-craftsmen as foremen, could use this technique to control the overall project, while dozens of lesser skilled artisans and general labourers could do all the donkey work of making, trimming and cementing down the thousands upon thousands of tesserae needed for a large floor or wall covering. The Romans would have used beeswax instead of water soluble glue to stick the reversed mosaic tiles temporarily onto wooden boards for pressing into their cement mortar bedding. Whether they used the direct or indirect technique for their work, they certainly have left a legacy of superb mosaic making that has more than stood the test of time.