Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Making micro mosaics


#1

I am interested in learning the techniques of making micro mosaics.
If any one has on classes, books, supplies, etc. it would
be greatly appreciated. Thanks, John


#2

The only place that offers classes and the necessary materials for
micro mosaics that I’ve ever seen is in California. It’s called
Mosaic Tile Supply, and their website is www.mosaicsupply.com. I
took a class there and they were really nice and helpful. I believe
they make their own glass for doing the mosaics. Good Luck, Jessica


#3

I’ve planned my own attempt at making micromosaics – but just like
many other things, I haven’t actually fabricated them yet.

I purchased very thin Stringers of Bullseye glass in the mixed
package (8418 MIXED) from sundance@artglass1.com for $16 plus
shipping. This gives a limited range of transparent and opaque
colors, but as a start (for practice) it’s fine. Later for a much
greater range of colors I will have to make my own stringers, which
I believe involves lampworking.

These thin glass rods are .7 to 1.2 mm in diameter, and
approximately 18 inches long.

There are not many resources about construction that I could find on
the internet. I plan to make a bezel-sized “fence” of metal and set
it like a cookie cutter into some sticky wax that I’ve rolled
flat(I’ll try beeswax first, because it smells good, but if it’s not
sticky enough, I’ll test other --more transparent – waxes). The
reason I want to be able to roll it flat is so I can have a picture
underneath as the guide for laying in the pattern with the glass.
They will be done as reversed mosaics, so what will be the top of
the finished mosaic is actually faced-down in the wax. The lengths
of glass stringer will probably be a quarter of an inch or so, and
I’ll work across from one end of the bezel-fence to the other.

I’m probably going to work with epoxy first. So I will epoxy the
exposed side of the completed micromosaic so for all intents and
purposes it becomes one piece. After the epoxy cures, then I will
take it out of the bezel-fence and clean off the wax. Now I may
either just epoxy the front side, (making sure to get the epoxy
between all of the tiny glass rods), or I may mix the epoxy with
finely ground glass or chalk or something to contrast as “grout”.

Then I would like to grind and polish the front, and it will be a
solid “stone” for setting.

I believe the more traditional method involves linseed oil and
months of curing time, and I’m happy to discuss that with you if you
want. The antiques can also be sort of fragile.

These are just my ideas of how I am intending to approach
micromosaics, and are not yet fact. Please tell me if you find
other resources, because I am interested, too.

–Terri


#4

Terri: Laura Hiserote is a micromosaic jeweler - check out her
website http://www.micromosaics.com/ for her work - it’s beautiful.
She is cited in the Orchid archives
(http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/laura.htm) with her California Poppy
which I believe was on loan to the Gilbert Collection… Perhaps this
website can be of help to you.

Kay


#5

ring blanks and inside diameter

OK folks, I’m confused. The problem is that I can make an argument
for either side of this internal debate, so I figured I’d go to “the
pros” and see what you have to say.

Let’s say I have a strip of metal that is 1mm thick and precisely 1"
long. If I form that into a circle, which circumference is
precisely 1" - the outside, the inside, or the mid-point between the
two? In other terms, does the outside surface “stretch” or does the
inside surface “compress” when forming the circle?

I’m trying to be much more precise in my creation of bezels, rather
than simply hand-fitting them - that works for many cases, but not
all, and this conceptual problem has been bugging me for a while.

Thanks!
Karen Goeller


#6

Karen, I think that both the inside and outside stretch. Use a hunk
of clay and watch closely.

Marilyn Smith


#7

Hi Terri, While I’m sure you will have fun making micro mosaics the
way you propose, the originals (mostly Italian antiques) were made
from stone rather than glass. The individual pieces were square or
almost so and they were seldom made as ‘one-offs’. Pieces of suitably
coloured stone were sawn and ground to make long thin rods of
square(ish) cross section (for rounded designs they were cut to the
shape of a bridge keystone or triangular) and they were assembled in
a bundle like the design in a stick of seaside rock. I’m not certain
what adhesive was used but the bundle was then cut across into slices
which each showed identical copies of the design and these were then
trimmed to the correct outside profile and polished. A very similar
technique was also used in wood where it became known as ‘Tunbridge
Ware’ after the British city in which the trade was centred.

It is possible to get square section glass rods and these would be
preferable for your plan as you would get much more colourful and
better looking designs rather than having 30 - 40% cement.

Best Wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#8

Hi Kay, I’ve seen her site, and her work is nice. But as she notes
on her website:

The scarcity of on micromosaic technique was
consistent with the Italian glass industry's tradition of secrecy.
 Since then, Ms. Gabriel has published a wonderful book on
micromosaics in which an essay written by Judy Rudoe provides
historical on some of the technical aspects of the
production of micromosaics." 

Thank you for directing everyone to her site who might be
interested. I haven’t read the essay/book referred to in the above
quote, so I don’t know what kind of it contains.
Although I have read her site, and teaching micromosaic construction
does not appear to be it’s purpose or intent. Her knowledge was
hard-won, and she credits herself with the revival of the art.

–Terri


#9

Hi Karen I think the answer to your two questions is “yes”. :slight_smile: The
outside stretches and the inside compresses. I teach my students to
measure the inner circumference (or calculate it from the inner
diameter) and add two times the thickness of the material (in case of
very heavy rings 3 times the material thickness). This method comes
very close to a tight fit. And BTW life is much easier here in the
metric part of the world. The ring size is the same as the innder
circumrerence in millimetres and thicknesses are also measured in mm,
so convert to metric Niels Bornholm, Denmark


#10

Making bezels

    Let's say I have a strip of metal that is 1mm thick and
precisely 1" long.    If I form that into a circle, which
circumference is precisely 1" - the outside, the inside, or the
mid-point between the two?  In other terms, does the outside
surface "stretch" or does the inside surface "compress" when
forming the circle? I'm trying to be much more precise in my
creation of bezels, rather than simply hand-fitting them - that
works for many cases, but not all, and this conceptual problem has
been bugging me for a while. " 

I think this is an answer to your question - when I make a bezel for
any regular shape such as an oval or circle, I use an equation to
figure the bezel length.

(diameter of stone + bezel thickness) * 3.15 = length of strip for
bezel.

For example - for a 12 mm x 16mm oval set in 28 gauge bezel, the
numbers look like this:

(12+16)/2 is the average diameter of oval or 14mm,
and 0.35mm is the thickness of 28 gauge bezel strip,
and 3.15 is a useful approximation for pi,
(14+.35)*3.15 = 45.2025mm which I would cut as a bit over 45mm. 

I’m probably weird, but for me this is much much quicker than trying
to fit each stone manually.

When I make a bezel in gold for irregular stones, I hand fit the
bezel in fine silver of the same thickness as the planned gold
bezel, mark the length on the silver, then cut the bezel in gold,
adding a skosh because the gold is more difficult to shape exactly.
Then solder the unshaped bezel, and then fit the annealed gold to
the stone. If the stone has a regular shape, I use the same formula
as I described above.


#11

Hi Ian,

Thank you for explaining a method of creating multiples in pietra
dura (as well as wood).

The original post that I was answering asked for suggestions for
micro mosaic construction, and since the method I explained is what
I intend to try, I posted it. I never claimed that it was
historically acurate (I know the epoxy is a thoughoughly modern
interpretation).

That said, there is a little more history that you might be
interested in…

Mosaics differ from micromosaics, in that:

“MICROMOSAIC: A term coined by Arthur Gilbert to refer to Roman
mosaics with the smallest tesserae, sometimes as many as 1,500-5,000
per quare inch.”

Laura Hiserote writes on her site about micromosaics:

“The elongated tesserae used in micromosaics are made of glass
threads (smalti filati in Italian).”

Another site defines:

“SMALTI FILATI: Filati means �thread� in Italian. Smalti filati
literally means thread tesserae. The opaque enamel is heated and
pulled out to make long thin strands shaped similar to spaghetti or
linguini. These are then broken into shorter pieces called tesserae.
These originated about mid 18th century at the Vatican Mosaic
Workshops.”

And the curator of the Gilbert Collection writes:

“Over a period of many years, 28,000 different shades of tesserae
were created. These were composed of an opaque substance which was
neither shiny nor brittle like former glass mosaics. While the exact
formula has been kept a secret, the Vatican calls the substance
�enamel�. �Persons who have never seen a mosaic made find it
difficult to imagine how with small bits of colored enamel the most
valuable paintings may be exactly copied.� [Begni, The Vatican,
1914, p. 501]. By 1770 most of the altar paintings by the great
masters were successfully reproduced in mosaic; to this day, most
visitors to Saint Peter�s do not realize they are looking at mosaics
and not paintings. Around 1775, some artists at St. Peter�s began
making miniature mosaics using exceptionally small tesserae. These
were the first of what we now call �micromosaics�. Initially, as in
larger pictures, the tesserae were all square or rectilinear in
shape, but methods were eventually refined so that individual pieces
could be shaped to appeared almost like brush strokes.”

(I think that the Vatican called them “enamels” because they had
added some tempering chemicals to make them “softer” and less prone
to brittle breakage, much like ceramic glazes or metal-compatible
vitreous enamels. But this is just speculation.)

Ian wrote:

It is possible to get square section glass rods and these would be
preferable for your plan as you would get much more colourful and
better looking designs rather than having 30 - 40% cement. 

Can you really direct me to filiments in the 1mm or less diameter
size? To square a rod requires extra work, and I would think that
would make them cost-prohibitive. Where do you think could I find
them?

There really won’t be 30 to 40% cement around the circular glass rod
filiments – for example, take several same-denomination coins, and
lay them on a table, and push them as close together as possible
without overlapping. I didn’t mathematically “solve for the empty
space”, but it looks much more like ten percent. I’ll just have to
try it, and see how it looks. Hooray for experimentation!

Thanks for your posting.
–Terri


#12
 The outside stretches and the inside compresses. 

The rule is Pi x (diameter + the stock thickness ) for the inside,
and Pi x (diameter - the stock thickness ) for the outside.

Pi=3.141 will work for studio calculations

It actually is a little more complicated. The above equations assume
that the metal does not compress or stretch. Metals do both when
bending and rounding up. Also you will need to allow for a little
extra length to file the ends to clean them up for soldering so you
have to add a little fudge factor for the rings to come out right.
The amount of change depends on the metal you are working with and
its thickness and if it is fully annealed or not. If you measure
carefully you will see the ring will also get slightly wider on the
inside face and narrower on the outside face. Platinum does this
more than gold and the effect is much more of a problem on thick
materials than thin.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#13

Just a comment - the UK is (reluctantly) metric although we still
insist on Imperial where we can (miles, feet, inches, pints etc.) and
our ring sizes are denoted by letters - US ring size 6 being
somewhere around K-M I think. I can buy wire in inches from my
bullion dealer, but it’s priced in grams, while jewellery supply
sites sell gold-fill wire by the ounce! We are really good at
switching between systems!!

Pat


#14

I’ve been playing about a bit with mini-mosaics. Micro-mosaics use
much smaller pieces, in vintage jewelry lots of folks mistakenly call
mini-mosaics micro-mosaics. There’s a big difference! (forgive me! I
couldn’t resist)

I make my own stringers. As you don’t have to worry about different
COE’s you can mix Effetre, Bullseye, and even Czech and hard glasses
to get the colors that you want. You can also make your own murrini’s
or use one’s bought from the various vendors. I made a pair of
earrings (which are around here somewhere, LOL!) and they took maybe
15 minutes to put together because I started with a nice flower
murrini.

I’ve used a couple types of epoxy - it has to dry clear and dry
slow. If you use an epoxy that dries in 15 minutes then you better
have small cells to fill!! Make sure you have a color pic of your
design and follow it. It’s very easy to get stuff mixed up when you
are trying to beat the clock.

The last step is grinding and polishing - I use a flat lap. That’s
my main problem right now because it isn’t getting the polish that I
want. (Randy Smith if you read this please email me
(@Barb_VanDusen) I lost the info for the flat lap that you
brought to Jean Stark’s enameling class last October and I’d really
like to have it…)

Here’s a couple pix:
http://www.barbarasbeads.com/images/mosaics/mosaic1.jpg You should be
able to see my signature cane near the middle bottom. The piece is
under two inches. This one will never be finished due to a stupid
technical mistake. The pic shows the piece after grinding with only
the first lap.
http://www.barbarasbeads.com/images/mosaics/mosaic2.jpg

Barb V.


#15

Hi Barb V.,

Thank you for showing and explaining your mini-mosaics!

How do you make your stringers?

–Terri


#16
 Let's say I have a strip of metal that is 1mm thick and precisely
1" long.    If I form that into a circle, which circumference is
precisely 1" - the outside, the inside, or the mid-point between
the two?  In other terms, does the outside surface "stretch" or
does the inside surface "compress" when forming the circle? 

Dear Karen, Both things happen when you “deform” the strip into a
circle. Thus the neutral zone, 1/2 way in the thickness is the
diameter you would actually get if you calculate using the formula
C=2piR or C=pi times D (2R=D). In the example you gave C=25.4mm (or
1 inch) Thus D=25.4 divided by 3.14 (pi) or 8.09 mm. If you had a
stone that measured exact 8.09 mm it would not fit into the opening
but would rest on the bezel.

The following example will explain how to obtain the length of bezel
material needed for any size stone. Assuming you have a 4mm stone
and you want to cut a length of bezel material to exactly embrace
your stone. For calculation purposes you are going to use a 1mm
thick bezel material (obviously too thick for so small a stone, but
makes for easier calculations). If you used the formula C (orL for
length)=D X Pi your 4mm stone would not fit into the opening. You
have to make adjustment for the compression that occurs to the inner
section of the bezel. You must add the thickness of the bezel
material to the size of the stone. Thus L=4mm+1mm X 3.14 or 5x3.14
to get 15.7mm as length of bezel needed. The outside diameter would
be 6mm or 4mm+ 2x the wall thickness. IIII wall of
cylinder stone

Rereading this I am aware that it may be a bit confusing and I will
happily send you a diagram which would make this clearer if you
like, since Orchid does not allow including one into the e-mail. I
also have made up a chart showing the length of material needed for
various size stones using different bezel thicknesses and can send
that to you. I’m sure you will get many responses to this, but I HTH
Joe Dule