'Creating tile mosaic portraits is challenging to say the least. A mosaic portrait can take up to 75 hours to create. I spend a considerable about of time in advance of working studying the face in the photograph; the shadows, the shading, the eyes, the hair. I imagine how to use the tiles to recreate the image, how to lay the tile that reflects the motion or placement of the hair etc. Then I begin to work, using an ancient tool, the Hammer and Hardy, to cut small glass tiles or tesserrae called smalti or smalto. The tiles are glass and special because they have color through out the entire piece. A ceramic or porcelain tile only has the glaze or color on one side. By using glass tiles complete with color, you can create shapes that are unique. Mosaic portraits made of smalti tile are not grouted as you may be aware of traditional mosaic. The lack of grout allows light to travel between the tiles and to shine through the glass creating a wonderful luminosity.
I work exclusively with smalti tiles manufactured at a foundry in Venice, Italy. The Orsoni family have been making smalti tiles for mosaics since 1888 and they are the only foundry in the world that produces tiles in the flesh tones. I have trained under the guidance of Lucio Orsoni in Venice and now have the distinguished honor of 'Master of Mosaico'.' Shelly
Commission portraits available upon request.