Sunday, November 26, 2006

Smalti Mosaic Cross Plaque

I hope my fellow Americans enjoyed a blessed Thanksgiving weekend and that those outside of the States also had a wonderful weekend. I'm finding it hard to believe (and very stressful!) that the Holidays are upon us!

I finished this smalti mosaic cross plaque last night and wanted to share it with you. It was commissioned as a Christmas gift for my client's inlaws. It is composed of smalti (see below) with 10 bronze daisies tucked into the background for added interest. The finished piece measures approximately 4" x 4".

I use stained glass in the majority of my mosaic crosses . . . but this plaque is made completely with a material called smalti:
Smalti (the plural of smalto) are specilised mosaic tesserae made from richly coloured glass. Originally developed for Byzantine mosaics, the glass contains metal oxides which produce an almost infinite range of colour possibilities. The molten glass is poured into flat slabs which are then broken into individual smalti with rough, irregular surfaces that may be pitted with air bubbles.
Quoted from The Joy of Shards website.

Smalti is more difficult to work with because it is much thicker than stained glass and therefore, much more difficult to cut. It also tends to have a mind of its own . . . meaning, it doesn't always want to break where I want it to! But the distinct "look" and "feel" it adds to mosaic artwork is amazing. Smalti adds depth and texture . . . and light dances off the pieces (you can see this at the top of the plaque in the pic above) giving very rich and true colors. The result is artwork with an Old World "feel" and a rustic charm.

As you can see in the picture above, artwork made with smalti typically is left ungrouted. When I create a stained glass piece, my goal is to create uniform gaps (called interstices) between the glass pieces so the grout "rivers" are consistent and uniform. When I create a smalti piece, my goal is to fit the pieces as close together ~ even touching ~ as possible.

If you are interested in learning more about smalti, here are the two websites from which I order my materials. The first specializes in Italian smalti and the second specializes in Mexican smalti ~ and

One of the things I love most about the medium of mosaics is the wide range of materials that can be used in the artwork. The possibilities are endless and I really enjoy experimenting with and learning about new materials . . . and then combining them to add new depth, texture, color, tone, etc. to my artwork. It keeps my artwork constantly evolving.

Off to create more artwork. Have a fabulous week!

In Him ~


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