Creating art through Mosaics

Mosaic is the art of creating images with small pieces of colored glass, stone, pottery, or other hard material. These small tiles or fragments are called tesserae. The ancient Greeks were known to create mosaics using different colored pebbles to create patterns and scenes. Marble and limestone tesserae were used in Roman floor mosaics while during the Byzantine period (330-1453), glass tesserae in many different colors including gold and silver were used on the walls and ceilings. This art was mainly based on religious Christian themes, and by tilting the tesserae, light would reflect from the haloes and faces of holy people.

In Saint Valentine, Robert Sabuda creates stunning mosaics of marbleized and hand-painted paper to depict the legend of Valentine. It started in ancient Rome when a kind physician named Valentine took an interest in a young blind girl. With his healing skill and his deep faith he restored her sight. What we now call Valentine's Day began when he sent the little girl a secret message, which she received after the Christian martyr was executed.

Based on:

Saint Valentine illustrated by Robert Sabuda


  • Mosaic pieces
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Acrylic sealer (Mod Podge)


Learn the ancient art of creating Mosaics

Going About Your Artwork
Create a design for your mosaic on a construction paper. If you are doing this project for the first time, create a simple design design such as a flowers, birds, fish, and fruit. Remember that the empty spaces of a design are just as important as the drawn objects. Sort through the precut mosaic pieces (you can make your own by cutting small squares from colored paper strips), to select colors that fit with your design and make pleasing color combinations. Glue the tiles to the paper to fill in the design. Place the tiles close together with white showing between the tiles like grout. It's best to work in small areas. Apply glue with a glue stick to a small area of the paper and then carefully place the paper tiles. To finish, you can apply an acrylic sealant to give a glossy look to your finished art project.

Extension Activity
Did you know 6th century floor mosaic in the great palace of Constantinople used 80 million tesserae while the 7th century Islamic mosaics have repeating patterns of rich blues and greens. The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is an excellent example of Byzantine art and architecture. Find out about other mosaic architectural wonders in the world.