23 December 2009

The Madly Memorable Madaba Mosaic Manufacturers are most motivated


Madaba is famous for its mosaics. Churches and ruins of private houses have floors covered in them, dotted all around this typical small Jordanian town. Most of them date from the Byzantine period, after 500AD, and they depict everything from maps to animals, biblical characters and elaborate patterns. And the best thing?


There is a mosaic school, where people learn to make these cool designs. Unfortunately there seems to be no way for a foreigner to learn to make mosaics, surely a missed tourist opportunity.

We dropped into a mosaic shop, where a young man showed us the mosaic he was making for a French customer. Basically it goes like this:

1 Acquire stones from all over Jordan and cut into thin slices. Cut these slices into strips. Snip small pieces of stone off the strips with pincers to make your mosaic pieces.

2 Draw a design onto a piece of muslin. Keep it simple and use outline and colour gradation to best effect. Remember to draw your design in mirror image.

3 Assemble your ingredients: wallpaper paste to stick the stones down onto the muslin, lots of stone pieces, tweezers and endless patience.

4 Make your mosaic.

5 Cover a piece of wood with cement and place your finished mosaic onto it face down. The cement fills in any uneven areas and gaps.

6 Soak the muslin and wallpaper paste off to reveal your smooth and lovely mosaic.

Day 176 - Madaba - 103

We spent a happy day wandering around the town’s museums, ambling down the Roman road and finding that even modern local houses still use mosaics for decoration. Often this kind of craft is reduced to becoming yet more tourist tat, but here the skills are still in everyday use.

Day 176 - Madaba - 115

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