Mosaic: the pretty & the practical

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When it comes to decorating our homes we tend to lean towards the pretty rather than practical. And so what? Life is hard enough. What with taxes and public speaking to concern ourselves with.

Amidst the conflict between the pretty and the practical we seldom find a happy medium. That is until we begin discussing the anomaly that is the coloured tile. 

Mosaics have a long and, excuse the pun, rather colourful history. A history that lends itself to the balance between the pretty and the practical. A history that some of you might find rather fascinating.

Or perhaps, for the less historic minded of you, the history of mosaic can be seen as something useful. Useful, in its ability to convince your significant other of its rich historical and cultural value. And of course how, in its acquisition, it will add that much needed dimension of socio-historic culture to your all-be-it-lacking guest bathroom.

Historically, Mosaic has its roots in the practical. It was first used thousands (yes`, thousands) of years ago. Not as sophisticated as it would later become as an art form, mosaics were first made by positioning pebbles and stones into patterns that conveyed messages or directions (how practical). 

As an art form, records show that Mosaic has been around since the fourth millennium B.C. The first mosaics were found in Mesopotamia. They were made from an array of materials. Including shells, semi-precious stones and ivory. The Greeks played a significant part in discovery of mosaic. While the Romans played a role in its development.

St. Mark’s Basilica. The cathedral of Venice. Renowned for its Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Consecrated in 1094.

St. Mark’s Basilica. The cathedral of Venice. Renowned for its Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Consecrated in 1094.

“Christian art furthered the decorative technique in churches and other religious buildings, but under the Byzantines, mosaic art became a privileged language to express divine, supernatural and mystic themes. The use of manufactured materials, including gold, and the techniques of setting the tesserae at different angles and depths, created magical lighting effects.” (Goetz, 2007)

Mosaic is considered to be both a modern and an ancient art form. Its position on the continuum of modern art allows mosaic to remain “trendy”. And it remains a firm favourite in the ever-shifting world of interior design.

Emma Biggs, is a london-based mosaic artist. She founded the Mosaic Workshop, the largest mosaic studio in Britain, and produces private and public works around the world. Some of her most famous installations include Made in England, Five Sisters, London’s Wharf Walk pavement mosaics, and Mosaic Rill .

Mosaic tiles may be seen as contemporary derivative of Mosaic as an art form. Adding texture and interest to a room mosaic tiles are a pretty that always pleases. Practically, they can be used as a non- slip surface in showers.  

So what is so wrong with spending your well-earned pounds on a wall of colourful, and aesthetically pleasing tiles? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with that. If anything it will make your teeth-brushing ritual a more cultural experience.

Check out the great variety of mosaic tiles at Grand Taps. When in Rome do as the Roman’s do: http://www.grandtaps.co.uk/products/cat_763842-Mosaic-Tile-Samples.html

This post was inspired and drawn from A Journey Into the World of Mosaics: Historical and Contemporary Use By Lewis J. Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA

If you would like to read the entire article go to: http://www.iida.org/content.cfm/a-journey-into-the-world-of-mosaics-historical-and-contemporary-use

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Whats That Filter Thing In A Tap Spout?

Bathroom and kitchen tap aerator diffuser

In the spout opening of many taps there is a filter thing. It is not actually a filter at all but this is what it gets called a lot of the time.

So, what is it Supposed to be called?

and what is it for?

Call it an aerator or diffuser and you will be on the right track. I have heard it referred to as a filter and gauze sieve but these are not correct.

This clever piece of technology changes the way water exits a tap spout. The Aerator is either wire mesh or plastic grate and is screwed to the tap spout end, often with a chrome collar (the pics above show the aerators inside chrome collars). The water is agitated in the aerator and mixed with air that enters through tily channels in the side so when it comes out of the spout it feels luxuriously soft and bubbly.

Aerated water is gentle and pampers your hands.

Aerators also act to direct the water flow straight out of the tap spout and minimise splashing.

The aerator also restricts the water flow along with adding air to the water so it is also a water saving device.

Aerators are common on kitchen taps and basin taps where the spout shape allows. Square and waterfall spouts often dont have. You can easily see the aerator in tap pics, it either protrudes from the spout or you can see the screw collar line on the spout end.

They are not so common on bath taps as the restriction will slow down filling the bath tub and you dont usually wash your face or hands direct from the bath tap spout.

Aerators often get clogged by debris, especially in new installations or after pipework repairs or maintenance. This gives the impression that the pipes are blocked and often leads to major investigation and costly plumbers bills when all that is needed is to unscrew the aerator and rinse it clean.

Taps that usually have aerators:

Taps that often dont have aerators:

Standard Fixing Clips For Kitchen Sinks

Here are diagrams showing how to use the more common fixing clips that come with kitchen sinks:

Under counter mount kitchen sink installation profile

Fitting a kitchen sink under the counter top

Inset mount kitchen sink installation profile

Side drawing for top mount kitchen sink fitting clips

Inset mount kitchen sink installation profile 2

Fixing Clips For An Inset Mounted Kitchen Sink

How To Install An Inset Kitchen Sink

Installing an inset kitchen sink

An inset sink is the kind that sits on top of the counter. These normally have integrated draining areas like the one pictured.

You will need:

  1. Fixing clips
  2. Sealing tape
  3. Fret saw
  4. Screwdriver

And this is what you do with the tools:

  1. Place the sink upside down on the counter in the position where it is to be installed, and trace the outline of the sink on the counter top with a pencil
  2. Draw another line 10 mm inside the first line. Cut a hole in the counter top following this second, inner, line
  3. Adhere the seal tape around the underside of the edge of the sink, being careful to lay it smoothly (without ridges)
  4. Place the clips on the sink in their horizontal position
  5. These anchor clips are designed for use with counter tops 30-40 mm thick. If your counter top is thinner, insert wooden wedges between the counter top and the braces so as to secure them
  6. After placing a clip at each corner of the sink (or 4 at opposing sides in the case of a single round bowl), place the rest evenly spaced around the perimeter of the sink
  7. Tighten the screws of the clips with a hand screwdriver to secure the sink in place

Pick Your Perfect Kitchen Sink

Inset, Undermount, Big, Small, Polished, Brushed Kitchen Sinks

With such a wide range of kitchen appliances and decorative items on offer these days, homeowners can create a variety of different looks in their kitchen. Sinks alone come in a variety of shapes and styles.

When considering how many sinks you need, what shape and size they need to be and which type of material to go for, you need to look at the rest of your kitchen. Three major elements in a kitchen are the cabinets, countertops and sink. Attention must be paid to the size and visual aspect of these elements. Once you have given this some thought, you can begin to think about the other details, like size and material. With numerous options of material, from stainless steel to brass or copper, you can have very different looks and feels.

The next step is to decide on the number of sinks you will have in your kitchen. To make this decision, you need to think about what you will use your sink for and how often. Although dishwashers relieve us of the task of cleaning piles of dirty dishes, there are still some pots and pans that might be too big or awkward to fit. Some homeowners might prefer to have one large, single sink in which they can clean large crockery or a double sink, where one is large and the other a lot smaller. Others might choose to have a two sinks of equal size, and soak dishes in one side while cleaning up or using the other sink for something else. One sink can also be used for preparing fruits or vegetables

Some kitchens have two sinks in entirely different places of the kitchen. These can be used simply for washing hands or entertainment purposes, or as salad washing station. Having two separate sinks create two areas for chopping up and preparing food. These days, sinks come with cutting boards, draining stations and drop in compartments, which also contribute to making the whole cooking and cleaning experience that much easier.

An abundance of options in your kitchen can create unique, interesting looks and can also provide you with something that suits your lifestyle. By putting extra thought and care into these decisions, you will be able to create a kitchen where you can feel comfortable and where you will feel proud to entertain guests.
To begin thinking about what would most suit your kitchen, take a look at these kitchen sinks.