Introduction to Mosaic Tiles
The word ‘Mosaic’ can be traced to the Greek word “Mouseios” which means “belonging to the muses (artistic)”. Hence mosaic is the art of creating images with the assembly of small pieces of material or ‘tesserae’ (tiles) to form a unified whole.
Mosaic art flourished during the Byzantine Empire influencing many architectural designs of churches and palaces, even spreading into early Islamic art.
In early history, mosaics were formed from naturally coloured stones, shells and ivory, but later marbles and limestones were cut into smaller cubes and arranged into representative designs and geometric patterns. Mosaic has since developed into a popular interior decorative art.
Today’s crafters work with many material such as stones, different coloured glass, mirrors, beads and even odd items like doll parts, pearls and photographs.
Most mosaic tiles may be categorised into the following materials
Vitreous glass - These are manufactured glass tiles made by pouring molten glass into trays and fired, making them uniform in shape and size. Tiles with grooves imprinted on the underside also make adhesion to cement easy.
Stained Glass - Mosaic tiles may also be cut from huge sheets of stained glass. Stained glass is known for its translucent qualities and is also available in opaque form. This is an excellent choice for buildings with high walls and few windows like a church. Usage of this mosaic will reflect more light, brightening up an enclosure.
Ceramic - Clay is among the cheapest range of materials and can be unglazed or glazed. The glazed mosaic tiles have the colour painted onto the surface of the clay and then fired in a kiln in extremely high temperature. The unglazed version has the colours mixed into the wet clay so that the colours run through.
Smalti - This is classic mosaic material. It consists of large slabs of opaque glass fired in a kiln and then hand cut with a chisel and hammer into smaller cubes. The irregular finish of such tiles allows for light reflections, thus giving a shiny and unique look to a room when installed.
Gold Smalti - In this tile, real gold and silver leaf is sandwiched between 2 layers of glass and fired in the kiln twice to embed in the precious material. This is to create a golden reflection emanating from in between the tile, causing a luminous and far richer effect
Mirror - tiles made with mirrors is cheap as off cuts from glass shops may be used but it also adds great depths and sparkle to a mosaic.
Mosaic Tiles are very versatile. Ranging from delicate looking natural stone to glossy glazed ceramics, they can be used to surround a fire place, to give ambience to a spa, to accent a wall in any room or the floor.
It can be in a single row as in a border or a centrepiece among a full size tile and in any design that can be as simple or intricate as desired. Besides, mosaic gives an aura of bejewelled decoration flaunting richness.
Mosaic Tiles in Interior Design