What you should know
about Glass Mosaic
are composed of many small pieces called tesserae - these can
be glass, stone or occasionally other materials. GLASS MOSAICS
are composed of glass tesserae (either Italian smalti, pressed
glass tiles, or other types of tesserae made in the studio) and
come in a very wide range of colors. They are mounted on a substrate
with a variety of adhesives (cements, mastics, etc.) depending
on the type of installation.
are opaque since they are mounted on a solid background. This
means that mosaics are meant to be viewed with reflected light
- the light has to come from behind the viewer for the image to
be seen. The light source is on the same side as the viewer.
contrast, stained glass windows are meant to be viewed with transmitted
light - the light has to actually pass through the stained glass
(i.e. a window) to the viewer in order for the color and texture
of the glass to be appreciated. The light source has to be on
the opposite side of the viewer.
characteristics and qualities of glass mosaic are:
between the tesserae (the interstices) are filled with grout.
be installed on a very solid substrate.
for exterior installations since the colors of the tesserae
are permanent and are resistant to environmental conditions.
for floor installations due to the high compressive strength
solutions for areas in which stained glass windows are wanted
but there is not an actual window opening.
for ceilings, floors, fountains and pools, etc.
of the mosaic media for traditionally representational work.*
to the site usually mounted on paper sections.
in the indirect method (reverse reading, upside down) on a
paper cartoon, they are mounted to the final surface with
the paper side out. The paper is removed, thus revealing a
right reading design.
installed correctly, they should last 1,000 years. There are
no parts that "wear out" or fade.
is almost nil except for an occasional washing with a brush
and soapy water.
come in a variety of colors from very soft, pastel, to very
additional brilliance and contrast, smalti are available in
24 kt. gold, silver and copper metals.
average 1/4" x 1/2" - they are about 1/4" thick.
Usually, when the design calls for a very traditional figurative
glass mosaic, we develop the design, then have our associates
in Italy, under our direct specifications and supervision, execute
the figurative elements (occasionally the entire piece). They
have much better access to the 3,000 plus shades of tesserae (smalti)
than we do and are master mosaicists. The mosaics are shipped
to us - we provide the installation.
the various media in which our studio works, traditional Byzantine
style glass mosaics are one of the more costly. There are only
a very few fabbrica (factories) in Italy that make true smalti,
thus the basic material is difficult to obtain in the United States.
The individual tesserae are each hand cut from a relatively small
"pancake" of hand made glass so obviously, they are costly. After
the development of the intricate art work (design) that is usually
characteristic of a mosaic of this type, the actual execution
of the piece requires a great deal of time. A mosaic of 10 sq.ft.
could contain about 10,000 tesserae. Selection of each of these
smalti would represent several decisions as to size, color and
placement. Then most likely the piece has to be cut to a specific
shape and mounted directly onto its substrate (or indirectly on
paper, for a reverse type of installation). Mosaics are often
installed in difficult to access locations such as domes, high
arches, etc. At the site, installations can become quite a laborious
process. Hopefully you will appreciate that since mosaics are
so time consuming, they are costly. But this is a medium, that
if installed properly, will last indefinitely.