Coloured mosaic tiles: masterpieces with an extraordinary colour variety

By 23 April 2019Magazine, Mosaics
Coloured mosaic tiles

Coloured mosaics tiles have embellished residences since ancient times. The company Fantini Mosaici | Marmi, a purely Italian excellence in the planning and manufacture of mosaic works, has been decorating since 1900 the world’s most luxurious public buildings, boutique hotels, villas and haute couture boutiques with coloured mosaics of outstanding beauty, resulting from a wise union of innovation and artisanal tradition.

If you wish to get some ideas, we suggest you view the exclusive creations by prestigious company Fantini Mosaici | Marmi, where experience, the legacy of techniques and ancient artisanal mastery marry with the study of innovative production methods.

Coloured mosaic tiles

The mosaic is an ancient artistic and decorative technique for creating ornamental, geometric and figurative motifs by placing side by side small fragments of various hard materials, called tesserae. Throughout the centuries, the mosaic has evolved with culture and has succeeded in interpreting the changes in context and taste every single time.

The mosaic was originally designed to protect rammed earth walls and floors from humidity, but with the passing of time it has conquered a decorative purpose that has connected it directly to the world of art, and to the world of interior design today.

The future of coloured mosaics tiles consists in constant transformation, not only in terms of colours and decorations, but also in terms of materials. Indeed, the latest-generation mosaics are made of textured tiles with multifaceted surfaces that create unprecedented vibrations when hit by light, thus offering new sensory experiences. New technologies are gaining ground by putting the world of mosaic and the digital world in contact, thus enhancing the expressive abilities of mosaic even more.

The classic materials for making mosaic works and coloured mosaics are:

  • marble;
  • glass;
  • ceramic;
  • gold;
  • silver.

However, mosaics can also be made from other materials, such as metal, plastic, rubber, recovered objects and cheap materials.

Let’s analyse the different types of coloured mosaics and the most appreciated and sought-after processing techniques.


Bright coloured mosaic tiles: marble

Marble is the most commonly used stone material in mosaic art thanks to its extraordinary colour variety, along with its excellent malleability and resistance to wear. Marble is cut into various sizes and finishes for both indoor and outdoor surfaces.

Besides marble, it’s also possible to choose stones of a different origin to create coloured mosaics, such as:

  • granites;
  • alabaster;
  • sandstones;
  • calcareous tuff;
  • basalts;
  • porphyries.

The Roman mosaic is mainly used for floorings, rose windows, carpets and decorative bands, and is made of mainly quadrangular marble tesserae. It’s important to keep a certain distance between the tiles in order to highlight the grid formed by the grout lines.

Colorful mosaics tiles

Coloured glass mosaic tiles

Glass offers a remarkable colour variety, as well as a suggestive refraction of the light that creates gorgeous light effects. Widely used for pools and wall mosaics, glass materials are reflectant and offer a wide range of colours.

Considering the scarce resistance to wear that makes them highly perishable if they are walked on, mosaics with glass tiles are not really suitable for floorings and surfaces that are exposed to extreme stress.

Glass includes:

  • glass pastes, which are characterised by an uneven colour that creates stunning shadings;
  • dichroic glass, which is widely used for artistic purposes and contains microlayers of metal oxides that create peculiar light effects and optical illusions;
  • float glass, which is transparent and very easy to cut;
  • mirrored glass, with a reflecting, smooth, wavy or orange peel-like surface;
  • iridescent glass, that has got a surface on which the reflected light lends almost a pearly effect to the colours;
  • opalescent glass, which has got a surface with a more opaque side and a shinier one, with monochromatic shadings or consisting of two or more colours;
  • Spectrum glass, which is similar to opalescent glass but it’s more valuable;
  • Bullseye glass, which is very valuable, bright and has got intense colours;
  • Youghiogheny glass, which is valuable and semi-opaque, and its colours can be contrasting, matching or spreading;
  • Wissmach glass, which is easy to process.

In order to make glass pastes, a mixture of coloured glass and opacifiers is melted in a furnace and poured into specific moulds. The colour is given by adding colourants to the melting mixture that for the most part are made of metallic pigments. The resulting tiles are geometrically uniform, they can be monochrome or made of different colours, which are sometimes strongly contrasting, and their transparency level can vary from complete opacity to maximum clearness.

The Byzantine mosaic consists of mainly square tesserae made of glass materials that have a strong visual and colour impact.


Gold and silver mosaics

Precious metals, such as gold and silver, are wrought into ultra thin foils and fixed with hot glue between two layers of transparent glass paste. The resulting effect is very stunning, bright and shiny.

Among the most majestic examples of gold mosaics we must mention the 76 Domes of the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, which are finely decorated with gold mosaics that enrich their structure.


Enamel mosaics

Enamel is the glass material for mosaics par excellence, and it’s obtained by melting at 1300/1400°C and then cooling down a mixture of silicon, lead, fluxes and metal oxides that work as colourants.

Compared to glass pastes, enamels are generally more opaque and have a wider range of colours available. They are also easier to cut thanks to the lead added.

Enamel has got excellent resistance and malleability, and it stands out for its extraordinary shininess. At the moment you can choose from a wide selection of solid, uniform colours, which can be transparent, opaque, shiny or sandblasted.

Metal foil enamels are made by sticking an ultra thin metal foil, usually gold or silver, onto a glass slab. A blown glass slab is applied on the metal foil to protect it from oxidants. Everything is then heated up together so that the three layers adhere perfectly.

Initially, only 24-karat gold was used, like for the ancient mosaics found in cathedrals, churches and basilicas, while nowadays other metals with various colours are also used.

Most of the Byzantine coloured mosaics were made with enamel, especially the icons. The Byzantine technique is a further development of the Roman one, and it requires the use of smaller tesserae.


The Venetian mosaic and the terrazzo technique

The Venetian mosaic technique is very ancient, and it consists of small mosaic fragments cut irregularly. Whereas the terrazzo technique consists in making floorings with small, different-shaped marble pieces; the results are very beautiful and high-quality.

Would you like to create gorgeous coloured mosaics? Don’t hesitate to contact us for a quote.