Micro mosaic is a special type of mosaic work that uses small mosaic pieces (tesserae) of varying materials. Micro mosaics actually date back to the 3rd century BC, though the height of their popularity was during mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. Micro mosaic jewelry became popular between the 17th and 19th century. The art often depicted famous Italian landmarks. Around 1860, artisans of Murano developed their own style of micro mosaic jewelry using tiny bits of colored glass and glass rods. Alessio Mattioli, 18th century Roman glass kiln owner, experimented on colored glass paste and developed what are called, “small filati.” This technique made it possible for artisans to create small fashion pieces. With the dawn of the Industrial age and expensive hand labor, larger tesserae came into vogue.
The mosaic jewelry I create (Moth & Twig Mosaic Art Jewelry) incorporates techniques and materials found in micro mosaic work. Though I do not consider my jewelry to be true micro mosaic art as I use larger tesserae than what is used in classic micro mosaic, I do consider my work to be miniature mosaic. I love working on such a small scale and have found that my passion lies in miniature mosaics.
I use a number of different materials for my work, including hand glazed earthenware tiles, various types of glass, filati, millefiori, beads, metals, gemstones, and found objects, to name a few. I’m constantly experimenting with new materials so my list of materials continues to expand. I’ve recently begun to work with a material called mosaic gold. The material consists of 24kt gold leaf that is mounted on glass and covered by a very thin hand-blown piece of crystal, and then fused into one solid, durable piece of glass. The result is spectacular as the gold appears on the surface of the tesserae, reflecting the purity of the gold when the light hits it just so. The material is expensive and difficult to work with so I use it sparingly, incorporating it into ceramic and glass pieces. Mosaic gold is offered in an array of colors; my favorite at the moment is acid green.
If you are intrigued by the art of mosaic jewelry, I am thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a mosaic jewelry class at Artistic Portland this April! The theme for the class is “I Heart Mom,” just in time for Mother’s Day, or perhaps you would like to create a beautiful mosaic piece for yourself! In this four-hour workshop, you will learn how to create beautiful mosaic art jewelry using basic mosaic techniques, methods and applications. Students can choose to make a mosaic heart pendant or choose from a variety of other pendant shapes and/or drop earrings. You will leave the class with one or two finished pieces, depending on the types and sizes of bases chosen. Students will also receive a comprehensive handout and resource list. See the Artistic Portland class page for more details.