The importance of drawing your design

After you have completed your first few small mosaics you begin to realize just how much work is involved in design, cutting, placing and grouting your work. It is for that reason that a design plan in mosaics is so critical. The process of design will save you many hours of disappointment. Knowing what you are aiming for at the outset is the only way to go in mosaic creation. Mosaic is referred to as a ‘slow art’ and you do not want to be disappointed after laboring for hours only to discover you’ve botched a major part of the process. The advent of the computer and printer has made it possible to produce designs in a fraction of the time. But the old fashion method of sitting in front of a piece of paper with some colored pencils is as equally effective.  It will be time well spent.  So here are my tips on mosaic design.

First of all draw your image. Here’s an example based on one of my mosaics. Decide what you’re going to do. On this occasion I found an image of a crop circle – yes a crop circle. It looked like an angel to me. This is the image. For those of you who don’t know what crop circles are, they are geometric patterns that apparently appear mysteriously in crop fields. The crop is not cut, but usually laid flat and most often swirled into an attractive floor pattern. Most patterns appear in cereal crops such as wheat and barley, but circles have also been found in oilseed rape, maize, linseed, grass and even borage. I remember sitting next to a young chap on a long haul flight somewhere in the US and we got chatting and I asked him what he did for work – his response was ‘I design and make crop circles’ – that was the end of that mystery.

Here below is a photo of a crop circle in a wheat field.

image of crop circle

With this image I traced over the top and then began to think about how I would execute the piece in terms of colour, spacing, material choice, grout etc. Lots of decisions have to be made so take your time.

Here are the results of my thought process:. As you can see I began playing with a variety of blues and gold and began to think about how I would create the lines in the design and whether or not I wanted a border and whether that border should be black.

Image 1: Part of the Mosaic Design Process
Image 2: Part of the Mosaic Design Process
Image 3: Part of the Mosaic Design Process

After much thought and consideration as to materials I decided I would create the piece in Italian smalti ( an ancient glass form used to produce all the great mosaics found in Italy). I also decided I would avoid using visible grout so I could maintain my depth of color and that in order to create the lines within the piece I would use variable heights in the piece.

This is what the final product looks like. While the image does vary somewhat from the design the choices made were conscious ones.



This piece led me to create another mosaic in a similar theme. See that in the next post.

So have a go. Happy Art-ing!


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