Because of the popularity of mosaics, perhaps even your children know about it. In children’s art classes, mosaic art is already being taught. It is basically the arrangement of colored tiles called tesserae. The materials of the tesserae vary and it often includes wood, tile, glass, and marble. The Christians value religion greatly especially when it was still not recognized centuries ago and some mosaic artists were able to create Christian mosaics which were uncovered in the recent years from archeological sites.
The ancient people used mosaic to adorn their jewelry, architectural features, and furniture with bits of colored stone, glass, and enamel. The mosaics uncovered in Olynthus were made from small pebbles and it is of Greek origin, 5-4th century BC. After the conquest of Alexandrians to the East, mosaic srtists began using square shaped tesserae. The Roman mosaics were greatly influenced by the Greeks. The mosaics found in Pompeii used glass bits on fountains, niches, and columns. In the Roman and Italian colonies, you can see mosaic in large marble slabs with contrasting colors along with small tesserae marbles. The patterns also vary which includes geometric patterns and figures of animals.
After the death of Christ, the basilicas boast of glass mosaics. The walls were adorned with intense colored decorations. Arches usually had mosaics as well as the domes of the basilicas. The mosaic were generally of apostles, saints, and Jesus Christ.
Byzantium, later on known as Constantinople, became the hub of mosaic crafts by the sixth century. A very good example is Hagia Sophia where you can find mosaics with gold backgrounds. The mosaic works found in Hagia Sophia are very good examples of Eastern mosaics. Later on, this style reached the Western countries. The gold tesserae were produced using glass cubes and gold leaves; and to prevent tarnishing, a glass film is used to cover the glass cubes and gold leaf. Now, other colors of tesserae were achieved by using metallic oxides. All the tesserae used in the basilicas were created by hand. The tesserae contain irregularities yet this quality created a very desirable effect.
By the fifth and sixth century, western mosaic was concentrated mainly in Ravenna. However, the byzantine mosaic characteristics were still reflected in the masterworks. You can also find some of the byzantine-influenced mosaics in Rome.
Christian mosaics were able to enhance the modern mosaic that people know today. The Parliament houses and Westminster Abbey showed gothic revival during the 19th century. Now, modern mosaics are much more flexible and you can use the tesserae in different bases, even wood. Glue and adhesives are quite popular among mosaic artists. Two different methods are used by mosaic artists – the direct and indirect methods. The former is often used for simple mosaic projects while the latter is for large scale projects.
At present, Christian mosaics can be seen in most churches all over the world. Christians love to create images of the Lord, angels, and the saints; no wonder you can see these images on the walls, floors, and ceilings of major places of worship. Through centuries, mosaic art was passed on. Although there are a few differences between ancient and modern mosaics, the true essence of the art was preserved.
Visit Christian churches and see how wonderful the mosaics are; as a Christian, you should be proud of the mosaic artists who created such amazing works of art.