fancy words, a teaching moment

Andamento is the visual flow and direction within a mosaic produced by the placement of rows of tesserae.
which leads me into what is tesserae: The plural of “tessera”, a name given to a piece used in a mosaic. Originally tesserae were the cubes of stone used in ancient classical mosaics, but now the term is used for pieces of any kind of mosaic material, whether they are ceramic, stone, pebbles, glass or some other substance like beads, found objects, discarded jewelry…
Ok, you ask, Why I am writing about all of these foreign words. Well… I am a self taught mosaic artist, my background is in fine ART, but these are words that come up all the time in mosaics, they are mosaic terms, so I thought I would have a “teaching moment” for those who might be interested.
FLOW, now that is a term I prefer and use often, which is more or less andamento. The flow of where you place your “tessera” on your sculptural mosaic helps describe and define your piece. Each piece of art has its own flow. It is the different rythmns of these flows that makes a piece more interesting to the viewer. For example, on the deer heads…
here is a great example of the flow I am able to get by placing my rhythmic strands of pearls & ball chain to describe the eyes and jawline:

"the flow"...

“the flow”…

or on my landscapes:


the direction of the glass can establish the andamento and characterizes the flow of the water, the mountains, the melting snow & billowing clouds.
Another term that might interest you, DIRECT METHOD: A mosaic technique where the tesserae are stuck directly to the backing material. When they have set, the mosaic will be grouted. This is the method I use in all of my mosaics and therefore what I teach. There is also the INDIRECT METHOD: Also called the Reverse Method. The technique of sticking mosaic tesserae to a temporary surface and then transferring them all together to the mosaic site. A typical method would be to first stick tesserae face down to brown paper with a soluble glue (such as wallpaper paste). The paper can then be reversed and pressed into an adhesive. When set, the paper can be sponged off to reveal the faces of the tesserae. I don’t use this because I like working with the image exactly as it is going to be seen by the viewer. Also, I work on 3D surfaces, and this only works for flat mosaics. I like the zen approach, working the entire piece all at once, flowing forward and not looking back.
And lastly, lets talk about the definition for PICASSIETTE:


Nickname given to Raymonde Isidore, creator of La Maison Picassiette in Chartres, France. Thought to have been derived from the phrase “pique-assiette” which also now describes a style of mosaic that incorporates pieces of broken ceramics – plates, dishes, cups, tiles – and other found objects into the design, as Isidore did. OK, that is what I am best “known” for, using everything but the kitchen sink to mosaic with, I call mixed media mosaics, in mosaics they gave it a fancier name- “picassiette”.
I hope you enjoyed my little lesson on mosaic terms, and I will see you all back here real soon for more mosaic tips!

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2 Responses to fancy words, a teaching moment

  1. JULIE July 20, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    Great explanation _ I also ,like using mixed media, still trying to work out how to create ‘flow’ in my work, new techniques I have yet to master. All the best

    • Susan Wechsler July 20, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

      Julie, I will be in NZ September 2017, come take one of my workshops and I will show you how to master “flow”!

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