Thursday, December 29, 2011

New (limestone) trends in mosaic art

This is my 3rd LIMESTONE post. If you haven't read the previous posts, you can first go and read The "limestone" island and then Learning mosaic the flexible way (lime putty).

All this talk about limestone can only bring to mind a cutting edge group of mosaic artists called CaCO3 (by clicking on their name you will be visiting their site).

The above mosaic is entitled Movimento n.18 and it's white limestone on mortar, 60 x 90 cm. 2011. This piece was awarded the Orsoni Award this year - € 2,000 in materials from Orsoni Veniziani for The Use of Traditional Materials. 

Read more about the awards on Mosaic Art NOW.

Notice how the tesserae have been inserted into the mortar. A completely "unorthodox" way of mosaic making which kind of takes you back to the basics, praising simplicity and the need to exploit "what we already have" while at the same time there is a clear statement of something entirely new. Minimalistic new but "rich", rich as in filled with knowledge of the materials, with passion and with love for the medium

There's more from CaCO3.

This art work is called I.M.O.8 / Organismo n.8 white limestone on mortar. 2010

I am totally addicted to their work.

Here's one more, I guess my very favourite.

A close up helps us appreciate the intensity of the work and the dynamic interaction between the tesserae. I am not surprised to see how the achievement of an outstanding minimalistic artwork conceals such discipline and originality.

I have a few more things to share that have to do with concrete and some other stuff but still need to work on my ideas and hope to be able to post something soon. In the meantime, I will be posting some interesting finds that I have been tweeting.

My warmest wishes to each one of you for the New Year!

Images link back to their source and naturally belong the mosaic artists mentioned. Text in all 3 limestone posts was written by mosaicology.blogspot and can be republished as long as the source is indicated.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Learning mosaic the flexible way (lime putty)

As mentioned in the first “limestone”  post "The "limestone" island", limestone is associated with mosaic art. It is actually crucial. In this post I am drawing from my own personal experience to show that by employing it in your mosaic making routine you can learn to make better mosaics.

In the picture above, you can see a mosaic artist making a mosaic on a lime putty mortar which acts as a temporary base. This method is known as the double reverse method. This is the method that I have learned in Ravenna and the one I prefer. 

Lime putty is achieved with the combination of lime chalk or limestone fragments and water and its known roles are as a binding agent, a covering coat on a structure, or as one component in the creation of walkways or mosaics.

The double reverse method is extremely time-consuming and requires that the mosaic artists gets involved with products that only architects/constructors/builders get to work with. However, it should not fail you.

The DR (double reverse) method means that you get to work on your mosaic directly, that is, "what you see/make is exactly what you get". Your mosaic is not supposed to be turned around, like we do with the indirect method where pieces are adhered onto paper/fabric the wrong side up and then turned around and transferred onto the final base (wall, table, floor etc)

The DR method involves making your mosaic on a lime putty mortar which will then be removed once it has dried. The mosaic is turned around, the mosaic gets cleaned from the lime putty and after going through the final stages, the mosaic is secured in in its final place.

When each tessera (the "official" term for "mosaic tile" deriving from Greek τέσσερα meaning four/four angles/square) is placed into the lime putty you get the feeling of something "living and breathing", that feeling that was probably experienced by mosaicists in the past when they embellished church vaults with golden tesserae which they arranged mathematically and gracefully in such angles into the mortar in order to achieve reflections of light, i.e. glory.

And it's not just for the "experience" of that old feeling. The past is long gone and mosaics made that exact way are rare today. What's more important, at least to me, is that this method provides a combination of the following two benefits.

1. It gives you the opportunity to learn and/or practice mosaic making the flexible way

The DR method is about TIME and FLEXIBILITY both imperative for a beginner who is bound to make mistakes and who needs to "see" the work and how the tessera interact with each other according to how they are placed on the lime putty mixture. The lime putty mortar is temporary and flexible and tesserae can be removed hours and days after. Even in the absence of a teacher, the learner, takes up the role of the "judge" and as he or she can re-examine the work.
How many times have we found ourselves saying "this is as far as I can go" and "this is the best I can do" and then the next day we contradict our own judgement and want to change everything. The DR method is as flexible as it can get and it will help you work "miracles".

2. It provides you with a unique method to learn from ancient mosaics.

With the DR method, the design of the mosaic you are about to make is copied onto the lime putty mortar. This means that ancient mosaics can be reproduced piece by piece as long as you know how to follow some simple guidelines which all schools (at least, as far as I know, in Ravenna) will teach you.

To my humble view, a student of mosaic should first learn how to copy mosaics. Especially ancient ones because all the fundamentals of mosaic art are to be found there. Andamento. Shapes. Contours. Colour balance. You can deviate from tradition once you have learned it. I would never recommend someone starting from crushed pottery or vitreous glass mosaics working on a mosaic pattern/design that has not been already made.

If you notice the work of modern Ravenna artists, you will see that they have gained from learning from ancient mosaics. Roman and Byzantine.

If the past cannot teach the present and the father cannot teach the son, then history need not have bothered to go on, and the world has wasted a great deal of time.  ~Russell Hoban

I will continue exploring the "limestone" theme in the next post. The image links back to its source. If you want to use this text please kindly indicate the source.

(not me in the pic - image credit: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kastellorizo, Greece: The "limestone" island

We all know about Mykonos or Santorini, Rhodes or Crete but how much do we know about Kastellorizo?

Greece is full of places of unexplored incredible beauty and worth and Kastellorizo is one of them. The island, which is also known as Megisti, is the Aegean's easternmost island. A tiny but very beautiful island of the Dodecanese. It consists of a circular port of about 50 inhabited houses. Even though the island has very few inhabitants, they are all very hospitable and wait on the port to welcome the tourists.

Here's the port entrance.

A couple of panoramic views...

This beautiful blue and white house on the island was featured in the film Mediterraneo as Vasillisa's house. I wish they could make more films like that one!

What a colourful island! An inspiration for an artist.

This is how far Kastellorizo is from Greece....The location of the island is very remote and sadly causes various problems to the island and its inhabitants.....

The traditional character of Kastellorizo along with its unspoilt beauty result into a landscape that can only make your heart beat. This house is a perfect example for this.

What else is there on the island? Well, two things.

1. A spectacular pebble floor!

The mosaic floor of the "Avlogyro" square in the Horafia district of Kastellorizo is in excellent condition and features a roundel with a typical choklakia swirling radial design. Known as choklakia mosaics, they are made of black, white and sometimes reddish sea pebbles, and are to be found throughout the Dodecanese islands (for example Symi and Lindos on Rhodes). The mosaic tradition dates back to Byzantine times and motifs include abstract geometric forms as well as folkloric pictorial depictions.

2. Limestone!

As you can see in the "limestone beach" picture above, Kastellorizo island is rich with limestone. The island's geology is almost exclusively limestone. Due to the lack of significant flora covering the island, the landscape shows many features of karstification. There are a number of notable sea caves including the so called Blue Grotto which is much larger than its namesake in Capri.

The "limestone beach" picture is worth a million words, right?

Limestone beach - Kastellorizo
Everything is so overwhelming about this island, about Greece in general. Actually "stumbling on" the mosaic floor and the "limestone beach" was the reason behind this post but the wealth of information on limestone made me decide I had to split the posts.

In the next post I will be "digging deeper" into limestone and talk about my own personal experience with mosaic making. 

All images used in this post link back to their original source.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thank you

A short post to say THANK YOU to those that visit my blog and leave comments. You are all wonderful!

I am working on new posts that will appear on the blog mid next week unless I get more translation projects and need to postpone blogging for a couple days more. That is the reason why I am not blogging as I used to. I guess that hard work DOES PAY OFF after all!

I am sorry that I do not have the time to comment on your blogs ad I did before. But I do visit blogs often and I tweet stuff I like so PLEASE continue being inspiring!!!

Lots of love and a presto with new posts and if all goes all a little surprise...


Monday, December 5, 2011

Bologna is getting festive

Dear All,

I know I have not posted in a while but I have good reasons :) I have been very busy with translation work, preparing a series of new posts for Mosaicology, organising the house, trying to figure out what's got to go for the new year etc etc. 

You all know the drill.

So, I wanted first to post these pictures from Bologna centre that I took a few days back just to get into the spirit of Christmas and the Holidays.

A presto ! Later !

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Riding the panther (musings inspired by a mosaic from Delos)

The epoch we have found ourselves to live in requires that we have the power to manage each second of our life as if we were machines. We have to "know" but not learn, to take it easy but not muse over, to share with others what lies between our conscious and imposed "is this me-this has to be me" self. An "epoch" (need inverted commas now) which is getting old and consumed before it´s new.

We constantly need to prove we can juggle riding the panther, holding the spear and playing the drum. I am offering no reccomendations here but only a hint of what I feel is right. Learn to be diplomatic and think again. Are you riding in your race or someone else´s? Make sure it´s yours.

mosaic from Delos, Greek island near Santorini, famous for its mosaics, featuring Dionysos

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Today the weather was good so I took my daughter in the park and took these pictures. Aren't fallen leaves a work of art? I really liked the last pic!

Friday, November 4, 2011

NY Times special report on mosaic art

RAVENNA, ITALY — Mosaic is one of the oldest of the decorative arts and developed into one of the most spectacular. From humble beginnings in such forms as pebbles pressed in patterns into beaten earth floors, at its high points during Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times mosaic became a sophisticated fine art in itself. 

Read the whole article here

PS. Mosaicology is now on Twitter..I guess I will be twitting a lot more often than blogging at the moment..... Click on the T button to follow me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mosaic of the Med: Article on Cyprus by James Fryer

At the Mosaics of (Pafos) Paphos, faded, tiled floors became storybooks exposing the passionate tales which inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, reveal the origin of bay leaves and issue warnings about what happened to the world’s first wine drinkers. But reinforcing how the 1974 invasion has impacted upon the island, we also heard how bombings had caused more damage to the mosaics than had been done since their creation in the third century BC.

Read the full article on Cyprus HERE

Friday, October 28, 2011

Greek National Day 28th October

Greek flag with lapis lazuli and white marble

28th October 1940
A day to honour and remember

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Hidden and the Revealed, The Book

I have received interesting news via email the other day. 

The written world of mosaic is now richer due a new book release by famous mosaicist Lilian Broca.

The book begins with Vancouver artist Broca’s own lively description of her emigration from war-torn Romania to Israel and ultimately to Canada. She goes on to reveal what led her to tell the story of Esther in the medium of mosaics, describing as well the meticulous process involved in using ancient artistic techniques with a contemporary sensibility. The book is rounded out with the full text of Esther in handsomely calligraphed Hebrew alongside an English translation.

As Broca writes, “I trust that this series, the final segment that completes a circle in my life’s artistic creation, would please the old Byzantine masters. And in doing so, I also hope my mosaics have brought new light to the fascinating, multifaceted story of Esther.”

The Hidden and the Revealed:
The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca

Lilian Broca, Sheila Campbell, Yosef Wosk
Published by Gefen Publishing House Ltd., Israel and New York
November 1, 2011
ISBN: 9789652295606
$35, hardcover
Available in bookstores and from Amazon

Read Lilian's Mosaicology interview HERE (διαθέσιμη και στα ελληνικά).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Meeting Eric aka Bored Neoclassical Guy

Sorry about the dark photo. I was undercover. I had to meet Eric in order to pass on a message about something amazing that was going to happen in the world of mosaic art. My cover was blown when my daughter started waving the bottle in front of the camera.

Eric aka Bored Neoclassical Guy is into mosaics and precious stones and blogs about all sorts of things with a humorous edge and wit. Eric has also received a customised Follower Award from me time ago and once made a sweater inspired by one of my posts. Check it out here.

We met on a very humid and terribly hot day. We spoke about many things, shared views on mosaic art and blogging and history etc. I feel privileged to know Eric. And I also feel privileged to see he truly appreciates my work and way of thinking.

Last but not least, there is a possibility of doing some mosaic work together.

Read what Eric has to say about the meeting here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore

This is the Borromeo Palace and Gardens on Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore in the Piedmont region in Italy.

Who can resist to such beauty and elegance?

In 1632, Count Vitaliano Borromeo began the construction of the monumental Baroque palace and the majestic and scenic gardens, which have made the island famous and which to this day bear witness to the splendours of an era.

What is fascinating about this place is an unparalleled "dream setting". I have been to Stresa myself, an elegant and unbelievably picturesque town on the lakeside from which you get absolutely breathtaking views of Isola Bella. You would want to go back.

The Borromeo isles are, besides Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescattori, Isola Madre, Isolino di San Giovanni and Scoglio della Malghera.

Here's some information:

Of the many wondrous sights to see on Isola Bella, one of the most wondrous of all is the shell grotto in the Palazzo Borromeo. The stately palace dominates one side of the island, while its elaborate, ten-tiered baroque-style gardens fill the opposite side. Connecting the two areas is the shell grotto.
Descend a staircase from the main level of the palace into the grotto. The series of six rooms were first conceived in 1685, by Vitaliano the Sixth, with the aid of the architect Filippo Cagnulo. It took 100 years to complete them. In the cavern-like coolness, now as then, the rooms provide a refuge from the summer heat. Every inch of space, including ceilings, floors, and archways, is covered in a mosaic of black and white shells and pebbles. A marble lady is sleeping. Shh…don’t disturb her. She plans to stay dreaming for a long time to come. Down here in the grotto, it’s easy to think you are in a dream. (from Italian notebook)

And if you love the idea of decorating with shells, I recommend you read Theresa's of Art's the Answer blog post called The Shell Game.

image before last from assesempione
text in italics from italian notebook
last image arts the answer

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Malachite Box

Malachite clear lucite box by Eduardo Garza on
The designer is bravissimo for knowing how to blend materials and achieve great results.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's never too late

I was blown away by this School of Visual Arts NY mosaic poster which I found on

 Some interesting stuff there! A work of Louise Fili. Here's a picture of how the entire work looks. Love it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Artistic Tile's perfect marketing campaign

I first heard of Artistic Tile on Live the fine life blog which I recommend you to read. Artistic tile is a leading luxury stone and tile firm with a top notch advertising to my view. Unprecedented, highly intelligent and enviable marketing. Look at the image above. Notice the line "our body of work" how well it blends with the body of the model. Notice the line "hard to resist" which brings forth the durability and resistance to wear of tiles and mosaic. Every single detail has been carefully thought about and has a specific purpose to be there.

See this next campaign.

"Cut above" referring to the short skirt and the tiles that are cut while pointing out the firm's leading role in the industry while "in short" evokes what the model's wearing. Whoever was behind this campaign is a genius.

And here's another one.
"Bespoke" as in custom-made for couture fashion to emphasise the luxury and lavishness that this brand represents. The addition of a man's hand holding the measuring meter imparts the significance and value of skillful work, mastery and top craftsmanship that the firm embodies while the phrase "Measure up" is so spot-on!

Learn more about the company on

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The temperature in my little corner here in North Italy has finally dropped and I am feeling slightly "cooler". This lovely dove (detail from Ravenna, in specific Galla Placidia Mausoleum) brings the right breeze τo the last day of summer, 31 august.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Semiramis mosaic swimming pool

Semiramis, an alternative and stylish hotel in Athens Greece is the result of Karim Rashid artistic impact fused with owner Dakis Joannou’s vision. The hotel is distinguished for its colours, positive energy and design. Its location is rather a surprise. Right in the centre of Athens!

Upon a reader's comment I was reminded that I should do a post on this hotel considering the lovely mosaic swimming pool. Thank you for reminding me.

I will be blogging again in September.

My dear friends, have a cool summer!

images via
last two images from