The technique of mosaic, developed thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia, found its first real diffusion in the Greek and Roman world and flowered in the Byzantine and medieval era. Today artists and craftsmen still use much the same technique to decorate and add beauty to floors and walls in homes, churches and public spaces.
The first material used were Terracota and pebbles. In the Hellenistics world stone and marble and glass paste (smalti) cut with a hammer and hardie were used and they remain the most prestigious materials today.
Once the tesserae were cut, they were inserted directly into the mortar or adhesive, creating a surface texture full of movement, light and shadow. Over the centuries different techniques have been developed -the tesserae can be applied indirectly which results in a la flat, smooth surface or a temporary support can be used such as clay or lime. The direct method however remains the one which best highlights the beauty of the marble and smalti.
Micromosaic is a technique developed in the 18th century by the mosaicists of the Vatican. In order to create mosaic copies of the famous alterpieces in the Basilic of St. Peter's, a vast range of colors was needed. The search for these colors resulted in the creation of mother tints or in other words, colored glass paste with a high percentage of coloring oxides. These colors are melted in a crucible with a flame and mixed. The mass of molten glass in then pulled into long thin rods (the cross section of which can be round, square, triangular, linear or curved). Colors can be mixed in a way to achieve many different effects and the range of possible colors is almost limitless. The rods are then cut with a diamond file and inserted into a special kind of putty dries slowly which allows the mosaicist time for slow, detailed work.
Micromosaic is ideal for creating reproductions of famous paintings and small precious objects. In fact during the 18th and 19th centuries, the technique of micromosaic reached its highest levels in Rome through the production of jewelry and souvenirs for aristocratics "Grand Tour" travalers.