#LetsMakeWednesdays – Mosaics



May 13, 2020

This week’s challenge is all about mosaics. The V&A has lots of mosaics in all different shapes, sizes, colours and designs. Mosaics create a picture or a pattern – but when you look closely, you can see how they are made, piece by piece! That’s because mosaics are made from lots of little separate parts that are put side-by-side to create a bigger picture. The most famous mosaics, like the ones in ancient Roman villas, are made using tiles – but really, you can make a mosaic out of just about anything. This week’s challenge is all about taking small and simple things and putting them together to transform them into something new and unexpected.

 #LetsMakeWednesdays 

Watch this video to see how the artist works:

Let’s make a mosaic box!

Here at V&A we have lots of micromosaics. These are mosaics using very tiny pieces. Up close you can see the small pieces, but when you step back they show a larger picture. Many of these micromosaics were made to go on top of little boxes. Click through the collection here, and zoom in on some of the pictures to see up close how the artists would make their mosaics out of pieces of coloured material.  

Now it’s your turn to design your own mosaic box. Get a piece of paper and draw up your ideas. What could you use for the base from things you have at home – an egg box, or a biscuit tin, maybe, or a shoebox, a box from a restaurant (make sure it is clean!)? What would you put inside? It could be a treasure box, a sweetie box, a music box or anything you can imagine.

Now – most importantly – what will your mosaic design be and why? Put your box, lid-side down, on a piece of paper. Now trace around the sides with a pencil. This will give you an outline of your lid for your mosaic. Think about what you want to go on the box. Is it one animal, like Giacomo Raffaelli’s mosaic, a landscape or something else – a symbol, a letter, or pattern? What does your design tell us about what’s inside the box or who it’s for – or does it keep it secret?

Bonbonnière set with a micromosaic of a dog by Bonbonnière attributed Giacomo Raffaelli. Box by Johann Christian Neuber, about 1780. Mus. no. LOAN:GILBERT.349:1, 2-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum
Snuffbox with oval micromosaic of a dog, 1825. Mus. no. LOAN:GILBERT.929-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum

Take the outline of your box lid and, using a pencil, draw an outline of your mosaic design. Look for materials to make your mosaic. They could be old magazines or newspapers, coloured paper, empty cereal boxes, spare buttons, bottle tops or other clean recycled materials. See how different colours can be used to make animal fur, shadows, and plants. Simply cut out shapes, arrange and glue your different materials on to your background to make your design. Why not use old bottle tops to make big bug-eyes, or chopsticks for a long giraffe neck? You could even invent a whole new animal!

Don’t forget to show us what you made on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays.

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