Those clever Romans were ahead of their time in so many ways. These days we make our pictures on TV, computers and in print using lots of coloured dots or pixels to build up the image. The Romans had their own version using coloured stone tiles (a bit like tiny versions of the tiles you might find in your bathroom or kitchen) to create colourful mosaics on floors and walls.
1. Make the base Start by deciding how big you want your finished mosaic to be. A4 size works well to start with but you can go bigger if you want. Use a piece of card or thick paper – the thicker the better, as the glue may make your base soggy. Use a ruler and pencil to divide the page into a grid of 1cm squares. Romans wouldn’t have made a grid, but this is really useful for first-time mosaic makers. On an A4 sheet you will get 21 squares along the short edge and 30 along the long edge creating a grid of 630 squares. So you’ll need 630 tiles for your finished mosaic – plus a few spares. Six hundred and thirty squares may seem like a lot, but on an ordinary-sized Roman mosaic (around 6m x 8m) there might be half a million tiles in total, and bigger mosaics would have had many more.
2. Create your design A simple, clear design works best for mosaics. You can take a Roman theme – below are a few ideas to get you started. Alternatively, a geometric pattern using shapes and lines can be very effective. You could even make a mosaic of your name.
Which colours? Now decide which colours you are going to use. It’s best to choose around four to six colours, as it can get a bit tricky with more. Roman floor tiles were made from cut stone, not painted, as paint would have worn off. So the tiles would have been the natural colours found in rocks.