characteristics distinguish micromosaics
from other mosaics. The components or tesserae
that constitute a micromosaic are microscopically small! However, scale as
a characteristic serves only to distinguish the mosaic from mosaic in
not-so-obvious and perhaps most important characteristic of the micromosaic is
that the tesserae are elongated, something almost exclusive to the technique of
micromosaic Historically speaking, it is generally acceptable to claim that only
the Sumerian cone mosaics of circa 3000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia share this
technical point. In these mosaics, tapered cylindrical tesserae
(cones) were stuck into mud (pointed end submerged) that had been plastered on columns
and walls. The elongated tesserae used in micromosaics are made of glass threads
(smalti filati in Italian). The
threads are approximately three millimeters long and a bit thicker than a human
hair. The threads are placed vertically into the substrate of the
micromosaic with only the ends remaining visible ( analogous to
placing candles in a cake) . Each glass thread has a specific
cross-sectional shape, the shape you would see if looking at the cut end. The
cross section of a thread can be any shape needed to achieve the effect desired
by the mosaicist: rectangular, triangular, circular, oval, or other shapes such
as leaves or wavy animal hair. The finest micromosaics have from 3,000 to 5,000 microtesserae
(extremely small tesserae) per square inch!
micromosaics have a smooth surface, which has been carefully ground and
polished. Another form of micromosaics, Victorian (also called Venecian
micromosaics) have an uneven surface. These mosaics differ from the more
labor intensive micromosaics in that their surfaces were not grouted, and the
visible ends of the tesserae were not polished. These Venecian micromosaics were
more economical to produce. They
often contained complex tesserae (two
or more colors combined within the thread).
One complex tessera could eliminate the need to place many single colored
tesserae in order to achieve the same color configuration.
at the peak of its production in
is a truly intimate object d’art. The
fine art of the micromosaicist draws you in to experience their world on a
breathtaking microscopic scale.
There are two
major micromosaic collections in the world today. The Hermitage
© 1998 - 2000 Laura Hiserote, all rights reserved.
last updated December 1, 2003