Gold tesserae have a thin layer of 24-carat gold sandwiched between one thick and one thin layer of glass. Ancient mosaicists used gold to symbolize the light of God and to actually reflect light from those lofty mosaics down to the church-goer at floor level.
Apparently, tourists love lots of gold in their mosaics. But our teacher, Luciana, told us several times that precious materials donâ€™t necessarily make precious mosaics. Good design, good technique, and judicious adherence to the rules of mosaic, add up to a fine mosaic.
Mosaic-making rules include using light, medium, and dark colors; following the line of a design; and outlining design elements with background color before filling in the background. But once you know the rules, you can break them. â€œIf itâ€™s choice,â€ said Luciana, â€œitâ€™s not mistake.â€
Interestingly, one can make the same general observations about knitting and crocheting. Expensive, fancy yarn doesnâ€™t guarantee a good product. Understanding the commonly accepted rules of design, color use, and garment construction, gives you a firm footing from which to break those rules.
Sorry, the soapbox is a constant temptation to me. Back to mosaic.
This breath-takingly fabulous fountain gives the impression of gold from afar. There are a lot of gold tesserae in the mosaic, but Luciana pointed out that orange, yellow, and brown tesserae, plus iridescent ceramic tiles contribute to the golden appearance of the fountain, without the cost of gold.
The stylized double-helix shape is covered with multicolored motifs and patterns. It looks interesting from afar, and even more interesting up close. Hereâ€™s a really close shot of one of the patterns. It’s a detail of the top left of the photo above.
The Peace Park in Ravenna features mosaics by artists from across the world. I loved this one. It is a large crescent-shaped piece that is rich in texture, line, and contrast. In these details, you can see that it is made of stones, bricks, pipes, and stone paving tiles. â€œYou can have a good mosaic with poor [humble] materials,â€ said Luciana.
Look at the white, gray and dark areas of this next one. Those are made with dark-colored cement and white tesserae. The artist crowded the white bits together for white areas. She spaced them out or turned them up on their corners for gray areas, and she left the cement unadorned for dark areas. I love that. You can achieve a similar effect in knitting by combining knit and purl stitches in certain ways.
Here are some mosaics about town that you probably wonâ€™t see these in any art books. This is a strip that replaced a line of bricks in the pavement. Luciana and her students wanted to replace the bricks up the length of the street, but the city of Ravenna couldnâ€™t or wouldnâ€™t stump up the funding.
This pretty strip surrounds the window at the mosaic gallery of Scianna on Via di Roma.
These are in the park in front of the city museum of Ravenna.
Tomorrow, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Well, I’ve been waiting for it. Iâ€™ll post the mosaics I made at Lucianaâ€™s Mosaic Art School.