The Tessera That Got Away!

Lawrence Payne
2 min readJan 10, 2022

Blog post 9th January 2022

Ever been working at a table and dropped one of the tesserae on the floor then spent ages trying to find it?

I’m sure we all have, especially that one you’ve cut which was ‘just right’ for the space left, but what can it suggest about our method of work, which in turn is about our mindset?​

Everyone’s circumstances are different and I know what it’s like to be on a really tight budget that every piece counts, but just for a moment imagine you are working on a large mosaic and you have plenty of supplies. So, you drop one of the tesserae, you stop, get down from your chair, find it (if you’re lucky!) get back up on your chair and then set the errant tessera in place.​

In the time it has taken you to do all that, you could have set another 5 or 6 tesserae.​

OK, but what if it’s one of those tesserae that is the last piece to finish off filling in a section you’re working on? What if you’ve had to take the time to trim it ‘just so’ to get it to fit neatly into place? What if it’s that perfect piece that you know would just drop perfectly into place, surely that’s worth taking the time to find?​

No……because there should never be the perfect piece, if you have a tessera that you think of it in that way then you’ve looked at it too closely. You have between 8,000–10,000 tesserae per square metre (3' x 3') how many perfect shaped tesserae will you need over the course of your day, how much extra time will that add to your work?​
This is absolutely not being sloppy or not taking care over your work but you should develop a rhythm to your setting. All parts of the mosaic should have the same degree of focus so you can work without thinking, without that stop/start of having to question every tesserae, every line.

It does take time to achieve that level but you need to have in mind that, that is what you are working to.

Have fun but keep questioning and look out for those little details!


If you’d like to learn more about making copies of Roman mosiacs then you can find what you need in the Roman Mosiac Shop, here



Lawrence Payne

I help people create authentic copies of Roman mosaics even if they do not have any background in art or crafts.