Glass Tile Mosaic Art – Andamento (Huh? What's That?)

Making wonderful glass mosaic tile art is easy! Let me show you how.

Andamento (Italian for "flow") is the visual movement of your mosaic created by placing tesserae in specific patterns to achieve the desired image (aka "coursing" your tesserae).

Opus (Latin for "work of art or literary work") is any work in any creative field, such as literature, architecture, music, and fine art. In our world of mosaic art, opus refers to how we arrange our tesserae. Different opera (the plural of opus) result in different flows. Understanding the various opera allows you to properly plan your work to ensure you achieve the desired look.

The following opera terms are based on Latin. Few people I know, including me, remember two minutes after reading about them what each term means. It does not matter what you call each style. For example, instead of saying "Opus Regulatum," you can call it "squares aligned like a brick wall." The point is to be aware of the types of opera, then plan which types give the results you want, and then create your masterpiece accordingly.

Do not get hung up on the names; simply be aware of the various styles and how your eyes react to each. Plan your work to give the desired flow and effect. I will not try to describe in fancy art-speak the effect that the eyes see in each opus because your eyes may interpret something very differently than mine. Besides, I never understand so called connoisseurs when they use art-speak like energy, strong, sharp, dynamic movement, and dynamic power to describe a particular opus. I remember a pretentious guy who once told me, "Your lines are crisp and intense, and give the piece a provocative personality." I confidently responded, "That's exactly what I was going for," although I had no idea what he was talking about. I felt I had to acknowledge what sounded like a compliment by pretending to understand his art-speak.

Surf the Internet for mosaic artists, study their work, and note the flow of their tesserae. Pay attention to how each type of flow makes you feel. Associate the flows with the feelings they stimulate in you. Then, plan your own work using the flows for the feelings you hope to evoke in others. Try mixing several types of opera into your work. For example, try using Opus Regulatum for the border, Opus Palladianum for the background, and Opus Sectile for the focal point.

Opus Tesselatum is a square or rectangle pattern with grout lines aligned, such as a checkerboard.

Opus Regulatum is also a square or rectangle pattern but with grout lines staggered like a brick wall. I sometimes use a variation of this opus as a background by enhancing the effect using light tesserae in the center and gradually darkening the tone to the border.

You'll find inconsistencies with the definitions of tesselatum and regulatum in that some believe they're reversed. Those who believe as I do have sound justification. For example, the Latin "tessella" means "small square piece of stone." The Latin "tessellatim" means "in a checkered or tessellated form." The modern "tessellate" means "arrange in a checkered pattern." Therefore, I'm comfortable being in the group that defines the two terms as noted above. However, there's another discrepancy, which is with the spelling of "tesselatum." Does it have one "l" or two? I use one "l" to stay consistent with the other "… latum" opera described below. Again, it does not matter what you call them or how you spell them as long as you understand that the two styles exist and they each can arouse different feelings when used in mosaics.

Opus Reticulatum is similar to opus regulatum or tesselatum but with slanted lines.

Opus Sectile is either a piece of tessera cut to one specific shape or several tesserae of varying sizes cut to shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces.

Opus Vermiculatum is typically a single row of tesserae following the outline of a focal point or main feature of the mosaic. Some artists use several rows to create the halo effect and add emphasis to the focal point. The background is usually done with a contrasting opus, such as opus regulatum. "Vermis" is Latin for worm, so think of opus vermiculatum as a worm surrounding your focal point.

Opus Musivum is opus vermiculatum extended out to fill the background, either all the way to the borders or to secondary focal points.

Opus Classicum combines opus vermiculatum with opus regulatum or opus tesselatum.

Opus Palladianum uses similar shapes laid in an irregular pattern. In my opinion, triangle like shapes with relatively equal grout spacing works best for this opus.

Opus Circumtactum uses interlocking fan like patterns for the background.

Making mosaic art is easy. You can do it. Yes, you can! Let me show you how.