How to Make a Christmas Wreath Mosaic
Ancient-Roman Inspired Christmas Craft
Making your own DIY craft Mosaic gives you a glimpse of how talented ancient Roman artists created their artwork. Whether you are planning a trip to Italy, homeschooling, or just looking for a Holiday craft project with kids; learning about and making a mosaic can give you a glimpse into the everyday lives of ancient Romans. This Mosaic can make a lovely handmade gift or decoration for your Christmas Tree.
History of Mosaics
The Ancient Romans loved to decorate their homes and public places with Mosaics. Mosaics are pictures made using tesserae, cubes of stone, pottery, or glass, pressed into soft cement. The types of scenes mosaics depicted were often moments from their everyday lives, such as hunting scenes, the harvest, animals, plants, country scenes, or Roman Gods. Geometric patterns were commonly used as boarders.
Famous Italian Mosaics
Arguably the most famous Mosaic can be found in Pompeii. The Mosaic is an image of a dog with the phrase "Cave Canem" (beware of the dog) beneath it.
The inside of St Mark's Basilica is decorated with stunning golden mosaics. These mosaics are from the Byzantine era and depict religious scenes from the New Testament.
In Sicily, the Villa Romana del Casale was built in the 4th century for a Roman upper-class family. Now, you can visit and walk the rooms and see the mosaics that depict animals, hunting, games, and people such as the nicknamed "Bikini Girls," academically known as the "Coronation of the Winner." The Mosaic depicts women in athletic competition.
Note the geometric border commonly used in mosaics.
How to Engage Your Child
Children learn best when they are having fun! This art project can be done from any age range from preschoolers to teenagers. You will just need to be more involved the younger they are.
For younger children, the focus should be more on the process of working with the materials to make the Mosaic. Let them spread the plaster and place the tesserae wherever they like.
For older children, they could read the “About Mosaics” and look at pictures of famous mosaics.
If you are traveling to Italy, while making the Mosaic together, you can talk about the places you will see that have mosaics and what mosaics you might see!
How to Make a Mosiac
Plan to make the Mosiac wreath over a couple of days. On the first day, plan to make the tesserae (the pieces that will make-up the Mosiac) as they will need time to dry. On the second day, you can make the plaster and set the tesserae.
Cut the cardboard in a circle to the size you would like to make the Mosaic. Cut a second circle inside to create the shape of a wreath.
To create your tesserae (the pieces that will make-up the Mosaic), roll out the clay on the board. Use a ruler to measure out small squares on the clay. Cut them out with the modeling knife. This can be messy and a fun sensory activity all on its own. Add water as needed to the clay to help roll out the clay.
While the clay was still wet (for a fresco painting effect), I painted the pieces green and a few red.
Leave to dry. It may take 24 hours for the pieces to be completely dry.
Break the tesserae pieces apart.
Spread the plaster on the cardboard a little bit at a time. While wet, press in the tesserae to make the Mosaic.
When dry, coat in spray with a clear varnish. Leave for varnish to dry.
Tie a bow and string to the top of the Mosaic.