MosaicBlues: 2014 .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Luana Mosaic

Some things are meant to happen...

The Luana Mosaic was one of them 

It was the convergence of several streams.

  • A hard to shoot picture of a talented young musician. 

  • The sponsorship of her Grandparents,  Art collectors who shared my admiration for Boticelli's painting. 

We decided to create a portrait of her inspired by Botticelli's Primavera. From the original painting and picture, I designed a first model. 

I laid the printed model on the bench of my Alabama shop in early September 2014 and started to work. 

Luana Mosaic, Sep 17, 2014.

You can see on this view that Luana was built on fiberglass Mesh. I had built Miriam's Eyes last june following the same technique. This allows transportation of the light part of the mosaic, without all the heavy materials used to complete it.

This way, I would be able fly to France with Luana and 2 other mosaics in my suitcase and finish them in my new French Studio.

Luana Mosaic, September 27.

25 and 35 different kinds of materials were used on this piece.

On October 8, all tesserae had been laid. 

Luana mosaic, October 8, 2014.

I lifted Luana from her model, and had my first look at what she would actually look at the end of her journey to France.


On October 30, with my Daughter Mathilde - herself a mosaic artist. Luana is ready to ship !

On december 17, I set up my new studio in Saint Valery sur Somme and applied thinset and support on top of Luana !

On December 21, I removed the Fiberglass mesh.

And on Christmas Eve, Luana, framed and shiny was ready...

to meet Santa Claus, and the actual Luana ! 

No heavy stones were mistreated or abused in the making of Luana. As I only used thin ceramic, glasses, smalti and mirrors and mounted her on a lighter type of panel than the US ones, Luana is lighter than the mosaics I made before her.

The Luana Mosaic : 
  • Glass, Smalti, Mirror, Ceramic.
  • Wooden Frame.
  • Dimensions : 21 x 25 " (53 x 63 cm).
  • Weight : 21 lb (9.5 kg).

Portraits make outstanding presents and mosaics last forever ! If you would like to discuss or commission a portrait, or any other type of mosaic, please call me at (334) 798 1639 or drop me an email at

You can also Subscribe to my Newsletter to get the last news about Materials, Techniques and Sources of Inspiration of modern and antique Mosaic Artists and Patrons !

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mosaicblues opens French Studio

In a previous post I told you how was trying to solve the problem of shipping mosaics abroad. Mosaics being made of heavy stone, ceramic and glass mounted on cement and concrete materials, they are heavy and costly to ship.

Experimentation in June 2014 showed that by building my mosaics on a fiberglass mesh I would able to reduce the shipping weight by 55 to 65 %.

Miriam's Eyes, June 2014

I still had to be able to mount the mosaic on a solid support at its final destination, or in a workshop close to it, so I can drive to my patron's home or business to deliver and install the piece. 

Basically, I needed a finition shop in Europe.

I am pleased to announce the opening of Mosaicblues France.

My new studio is located in Saint Valery sur Somme, the very town from which William sailed to invade Britain in 1066 !

I landed in Paris with my mosaic on December 17 and started to set up the shop and work in it on December 18. 

The shop does not include heavy stone cutting or glass grinding equipment. I will simply be building frames and mount the mosaics on them.

My goal is to be able to simply mount lightweight, fiberglass mounted mosaics on a rigid support. These piece are still prefabricated in Alabama. 

Lu2 Mosaic, October 2014

On a next Episode of this amazing  
see the first French mounting of a Mosaicblues mosaic !

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lightweight Mosaic !

In June 2014, I delivered in Normandy a mosaic commissioned by long time friend. 

Mariam's eyes, 21 x 39" (53 x 119 cm) , made of stones, ceramics and glasses tiles, weighs 65 lb (31 kg) and bringing her to France with me was a challenging task. 

You see, mosaics last for one reason : They are built of heavy, fireproof materials : stone, glasses, ceramics, embedded in heavier concrete based materials supported by fibers reinforced concrete panels...

The weight of the actual tiles that compose a mosaic is between 35 and 45 % of the total weight of the completed mosaic. In the case of Mariam's eyes, the weight of the tiles was 22 lb. (10 kg)

When I took her to France with me, I carried 43 lb (20 kg) of concrete in my bag, and paid a hefty price for it. 

While I was making Mariam's eyes, I also made Miriam's. 

I made Miriam on a fiberglass mesh. She was an experiment. I wanted to test the feasibility to prefab a mosaic on a very light support, to possibly transport such piece without all the concrete involved.

Mission accomplished, I had to deal with a few technical problems and hungry rodents, but when completed, ready to be mounted, Miriam weighed 22 lb.

Such piece, however, is fragile and  I now had to figure out how to safely ship it and mount it in a foreign country. 

Which I'll address very soon in the next episode of this newsletter ! (Subscribe to it, Share it !)

Miriam's Eyes (to the Right) is Mariam's Twin Sister and is available for sale.

Beautify your life with one of classy mosaic piece from mosaicblues. Purchase an existing mosaic or commission a portrait, a decorative panel, a kitchen backsplash, a shower... 

Together we will design the perfect piece fitted to your home's or business' unique style. 

Or if you simply would like to discuss the wonderful art of modern and ancient mosaics, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

And if you enjoyed this post, please

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Roman Lions Club

One fascinating aspects of graphic arts is that it helps us realize how things were done at time it was produced.

Often it allows us to realize how things have deeply changed with time, Sometimes it also allows us to realize how things have NOT changed...

So here is one of the gorgeous mosaics hosted by the National Bardo Museum in Tunis (Tunisia) :

A Lion with what appears to be some sort of piercings through its nose, framed by 4 stalks of millet. 

Above him an inscription reads :


Which  can be translated into

"O Leo, you planned, you prepared, you dedicated (this)."

This particular mosaic was originally part of the Thermae in the city of Uzitta a city of high antiquity, famous for certain episodes of Caesar's campaign in Africa.

In Rome, the thermae were facilities for bathing, public or private.
Most Roman cities had at least one, if not many, Thermae. These were centres not only for bathing, but more importantly also for socializing.

So what it first appears to be is that a guy named Leo designed, built and dedicated these thermae for the city of Uzitta.

But actually, things are a little more complicated.

Because the Lion framed by 4 Millet stalks actually was a symbol used by the Leontii - The Lions Sodality - a group of local prominent citizens, archaeologists believe these bath were actually built either by Leo, member of the Lions Sodality, or by the sodality itself for the benefit of the whole town.

A sort of Roman Lion's Club...

So, this is why the study of mosaics is fascinating: they show us that while some things have enormously evolved in the course of 1800 years, the men and women of these times had motivations, concerns and organizations similar to ours. 

If anything, this points to the importance of studying History if we want to try to avoid past mistakes and improve our societies. But this, my little friends, is an other story...

Mosaics are Classy. They have been for the past 2500 years... Emulate this beautiful Roman Patrician. Add colour and style to your life with one  of mosaicblues' mosaics.

Wether an existing mosaic or a special project: Commission a portrait, decorative panel for your kitchen or bathroom, a shower wall, an entrance hall floor... Together we will design the perfect piece fitted to your home's or business' unique style. Or if you simply would like to discuss the wonderful art of modern and ancient mosaics, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

And if you did enjoy this post, please

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cold Weather

As I mostly work the Reverse Method, I use a water soluble glue to set my tesserae on their support. The mosaic is built upside down. when the piece complete I glue a support on it with a thinset mortar. Once the mortar has set, I flip the piece, remove the model and clean the glue before I can finish it. 

The Temperature inside the workshop is important. Here in Alabama, from April to October, we usually have nice and warm weather, and the glue sets quickly - in July or August, it sometimes just takes 2 hours.

However, right now, at the end of November, when it may freeze at night, it can take 2 days for the water to evaporate and the glue to set. I wish I had a nicely insulated workshop with central Heating, but I am not there yet. 

In the meantime, I purchased a cheap electrical heater, covered my mosaic with a big plastic box, and let run the heater for the night, at low temperature.

Total cost of this brilliant installation $40.00. 

In the morning, the mosaic is perfectly set, and ready to be worked on ! 

Beside that, the concrete will not set if it freezes, so do not use thinset or grout below 40 degrees (Fahrenheit). Anyway, at these temperatures, you finger become numb and it becomes difficult to work with a wet saw. Last Friday, it came to the point that I could not really grab the small pieces of glass I was grinding for one portrait I am presently working on. Some of these pieces are 1/8" thick, I grind them on a (cold) water lubricated diamond tool.

There is no point trying to work at something when your fingers can't properly grab things ! I put the lid on the mosaic, went back home and heated me a nice flask of SAKE.

Next morning, I resumed work !

Mosaics are Classy. Beautify your life with one of piece from mosaicblues. Purchase an existing mosaic or commission a special project: A portrait, a decorative panel, a kitchen backsplash, a shower... Together we will design the perfect piece fitted to your home's or business' unique style. Or if you simply would like to discuss the wonderful art of modern and ancient mosaics, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

And if you enjoyed this post, please

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Mosaicist of Ostia Antica

At the mouth of the river Tiber, 19 miles to the northeast of Rome, Ostia Antica was the seaport of ancient Rome.

I remember visiting this place 43 years ago with my parents and still have vivid memories of the gorgeous mosaics, frescoes, and of the tombs along the main road into town.

As a port, Ostia was a wealthy city, and lots of mosaics decorated the walls and floors of the homes of rich merchants who usually were running their businesses from their homes, and in order to impress their clients kept lavish reception rooms were they would receive and entertain them. 

Some of these mosaics were representing the business the owner was in. The one underneath decorated the floor outside an office belonging to "the shippers of Sullecthum", a town on the eastern coast of Tunisia. It shows two large sailing ships passing each other at the lighthouse marking the harbour entrance.

Foro delle Corporazioni, Ostia; ca. 200 CE

So there were lots of mosaics in Ostia, and lots of mosaic labourers were needed to build them...

One bas relief sculpture on a wall represents two seated Tagliapietre - stone cutters - cutting tesserae with a hardie and martelina hammer. 

Behind them, the Musivarius - actual mosaic project manager, is telling other workers were to put the stones slabs to be cut by the Tagliapietre.

And how do we know that ?

Simply because of the tools they are using; they are using the same as the ones we still use to this day :

Hardie and Martelina hammer.

Ostia was founded during the 7th century BC. As most of the parts excavated to this day date from the 3rd century BC. This bas relief has been dated between 280 and 270 BC.

So when I cut my tesserae in Alabama in 2014....

I am basically reproducing, 2300 years later, the same moves the Roman mosaicists were performing to cut their tesserae. 

This is a great source of pride and satisfaction. When I reproduce the moves of these ancient masters, I am in communion with them. Beyond time, 23 centuries abolished, my work is a continuity of theirs. 

This is how rituals work, this is why it is important - even though technology has evolved, and sometimes I use different tools - to use the same tools and moves the ancestors used. In this way, their knowledge and expression is revived and transmitted. They live in us. 

"Ubi tu Gaius" Roman Inscription mosaic, work in process - 2013.

When you install in your home a mosaic made in this way; of stone and ceramic tesserae individually cut in the same way our ancestors of Ostia were cutting theirs, you not only bring a piece of art in your home. You bring their knowledge, their experience, their loves, their hopes and fears, in fact you are bringing a little of their whole lives into your home. 

I have always admired Roman Art. The strong personal connection I feel with the ancient mosaicists through my work is a source of great pride and satisfaction to me. Through my own work and creations, I transmit something of theirs. Somehow, they keep living through my work, and I am thankful for their lives and work.

Roman wedding vows mosaic. Granite, Limestone, Ceramics

Bring the unique art of the Musivarius in your home. Visit my Web site mosaicblues. You can purchase one existing mosaic or commission a special project. I will work with you to design the perfect piece fitted to your home's unique style. Or if you simply would like to discuss the wonderful art of modern and ancient mosaics, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

And if you enjoyed this post, please

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Opus Sextile - Part I

Opus Sextile, or Sectile, a very ancient form of mosaic, probably is the ancestors of all floor mosaics. When our ancestors got tired of walking on mud, they paved their dwelling with flagstones. Stones of different colours allowed for figurative or geometrical patterns, a sort of creative tiling.

Roman marble floor mosaic, Utica, Tunisia
Such technique has consistently been used since...
On Floors

House of Cupid, 4th cent. AD

It is particularly interesting in the realization of great floor patterns such as the Labyrinths of various medieval and modern churches ...

Amiens Cathedral, France, 12th century AD

Church of the Nativity, Dothan, AL, USA, 2004 AD

And on walls :

Basilica of Junius Bassus - Rome, Italy - 331 AD

In a next post, we will look at the use of Opus Sextile and similar technologies in furniture building ... Stay in touch !

I am a modern mosaic artist who greatly admire Roman and Byzantine Art. My mosaics are often inspired by the works of ancient masters. You can visit my site at mosaicblues, or my facebook page. If you are interested by my work, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

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In which I keep you informed of my work, techniques, history and archaeology of mosaics.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Vatican's Mosaics

St. Peter's Basilica, a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City in Rome, Italy, is one of the largest churches in the world. 

It has been described as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom" and one observer wrote: "St Peter's Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious, historical, and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, and its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at their best..."

By Catholic tradition, the basilica is the burial site Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and the first Pope and Bishop of Rome.

St Peters is the repository of amazing work of art : sculptures, images... 

The Transfiguration - Raphael

Now, an interesting and little known fact about the images inside St Peter's is that all but one of them are mosaics executed in the "filato" technique.

Details of the Filato Work of the above Scene.

Filati mosaics have been utilized since 1600 by the Vatican studio to reproduce and replace the oil paintings in St Peter’s Basilica which have deteriorated over the years due to humidity.

The "Filato" technique was invented during the 15th century. Filato is made from smalti that is heated and stretched into thin noodles. It is then cut in small pieces used as micro tesserae.

Filato rods

The use of glass in mosaic allows for amazing colours, since we are now able to produce all nuances of colours by the filato technique, we are able to reproduce in mosaic all the most famous paintings. 

Personally, if I admire the amazing beauty of such works, I am saddened by the fact that all the creativity is taken out of the mosaicist's work. Mosaic is just used for copying painting. In my opinion, it is unfortunate. By doing so one relegates mosaic to the status of a mere Craft rather than a full Art.

What do you think ? Agree, disagree ? Please leave your comments below !

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to

If you are interested in purchasing one of my mosaics, would like to commission a special project or to simply discuss the wonderful art of modern and ancient mosaics, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When you make mosaics according to the reverse method, often the colours are much duller than if you would work direct. This is due tot the fact that the back of the tesserae are usually not polished and do not shine as their front does.

So when I want to have a better idea of what the completed piece will look, I spray it with water. I keep in my shop a spray bottle for this purpose.

Here we have the same Michi mosaic at 2 stages of completion.

I took this first picture directly without spraying the piece with anything.

When I took the second picture a few days later, I had sprayed the piece with water. You can see how much blacker the granite looks. Generally speaking everything looks brighter.

Water has that amazing power to get everything unpolished brighter. It acts as a sort of temporary polish which reflects the light off the piece.

Here is the completed piece on the right.

This interesting use of water to help visualize the finished aspect of a misaic is also clearly illustrated in this short video of a wonderful Roman floor mosaic in the antic town of Zeugma, Turkey.

Ancient floor mosaics were very likely waxed for 2 reasons : it protected the stones from being stained and it made them look better ! 

When I complete one of my pieces, I first treat it with a waterproofing product - this makes sure the grout is waterproof. It is important if the mosaic is displayed outside in a cold weather. Wet grout does not freeze well ! Then I wax and buff it.

The mosaics shown above are a representation of a Chinese ideogram signifying  "the Way" as the way things are or are done. The Chinese pronounce it Tao - as in Taoism, and the Japanese Do - as in Judo or Kendo; or Michi. It is the emblem displayed in the back of the Yoshukai Karate Organization to which I belong.

The red one is available for sale.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to

If you are interested in purchasing one of my mosaics, would like to commission a special project or to simply discuss the wonderful art of modern and ancient mosaics, please contact me by email at or by phone at (334) 798 1639.