The Ayvalik Mosaic – grouted and ready to be used!

The aim of this project was to decorate a room in a restored greek townhouse in Ayvalik at the norther aegean  coast of Turkey with a mosaic. This newly build multi purpose bath room which is accessible from the garden and from the house has features of a turkish bath/hamam: a heated floor, heated marble benches and walls but also serves as a water play area of the patio in summer and a second shower room for the 6 bed holiday house.

Fascinated by the beauty of antik mosaics I wanted to recreate some of the decorative elements of an antik mosaic to appear in our modern life today again. And I wanted to give this mosaic the purposes that mosaics  originally were created for:

a practical purpose of covering a floor to be better walked on, water to be better drained from the floor into a drain system and the floor to be better cleaned,

a decorative purpose to add color and designs to the raw walls and

a communicative purpose to give a reason for the observers to think and talk  about the figures in the mosaic.

The latter has already started with humor. I was offered a fishing rod by a friend to go fishing in my aquarium :), some people were trying to identify the kinds of fish and we were wondering if Walt Disney got his inspiration from the dolphin figure. Also one speaks about the techniques of the mosaic making.

The choice of material, limestone and marble, came because they offer the color range that the original figures are made in. It turns out to be a perfect fit in the total composition with the other floor and wall materials of the surroundings of the mosaic.

The practical use will be seen with time.

Please take a short re-cap with me of the amazing story of THE AYVALIK MOSAIC now:

the poseidon mosaic at Zeugma Museum, Gaziantep

There is the poseidon mosaic in the Zeugma Mosaik Museum in Gaziantep/Southern Turkey. The mosaic originates from the archeological site of Zeugma, at the banks of the river Euprates 30km east of Gaziantep. It was made in the 3rd century AD together with many other amazingly beautiful mosaics.

From a photo of the mosaic some figures of the sea creature were taken and newly arranged on photo shop for the decoration of a shower room with turkish bath features of a newly restored greek house in Ayvalik, at the northern aegean coast of Turkey.

No material has been bought, it was all found on the ground. Rocks were collected at the bank of the Euphrates river, lime stone in different colors found in the collection of  the  Gaziantep mosaic workshop and marble collected on waste heaps of marble manufactories all over Turkey.

Then cut into discs of 1cm

and further broken with the hydraulic stone breaking machine

until finally these parts were broken into cubes of about 1cm3 with  hammer and hardie.

By skilled mosaic masters in the hidden workshop of Nusret Osdemir in the heart of Gaziantep the first sea creatures of the poseidon mosaic were reborn during long hours in the scorching heat of south eastern Turkey in July/August.

In August in Sarimsak near Ayvalik at the longest sandy beach of the Turkish aegean coast already in the breeze of the sea thousands of background tesserae were prepared from 6 different rocks and marbles in beige tones.

At the end of September 50kg of marble and lime stone tesserae  went on a trip to Brasilia.

There they were assembled into wall tiles from October till February by enthusiastic brasilian mosaic artists.

End of  February  Brasilia art lovers admired these mosaics in roman style at the opening of the mosaic moments studio in Brasilia.

The 7 wall tiles of about 40x40cm and a weight of  36 kg travelled in 2 suitcases from Brasilia via Sao Paolo and Istanbul back to Ayvalik to be reunited with the floor figures and be installed in a garden shower room.

The mosaic figures from Gaziantep were  taken out of the storage and prepared with contour lines.

more marble was broken into tesserae

the room was prepared in long lasting mortar work

mosaic parts were measured and measured and altered again and again and again until they fitted perfectly

then finally on March 17 the wall parts were mounted on the fronts of the hamam benches

and the mounting paper and board removed after two days

Then the floor was prepared for the installation of the floor figures

And these figures installed on March 24

Again after 2 days on March 26 these figures were uncovered by the most enthusiastic helpers overall

and the areas in between the figures were filled by setting the tesserae directly into the cement

Then finally the mosaic was grouted on April 7

Now these wonderful creatures are ready to be used in summer as a garden – water play area and on colder days as a hamam. You are all invited to enjoy the mosaic under your feet, touch it and live with it like in roman times as a guest at the Ayvalik Mosaicli Ev. In a short while the house will be up for rent. Please contact for enquiries.

Without the following people I would not have succeeded, I am very grateful I had the chance to  work with:

During the design phase in Ankara and Ayvalik in May/June 2015:

Kutalmis Görkay, Firat Aykac

The Cahill family, Kay, Nick, Nora and Phoebe

During the material collection phase in Ayvalik in June 2015:

Evren Agabeyoglu, Turgut Bekisoglu, Miriam Engstrom, Ali Ihsan Basöz, Hassan Gül

During the floor figure production phase at Gaziantep Mosaic Workshop of Nusret Özdemir in July/August 2015:

Nusret Özdemir,Tahir Köroglu, Ayse Ebru Corbaci

During the background stone breaking phase at Sarimsak beach house in September 2015:

Mustafa Salih Kamanlioglu, Tulya Madra

During the wall part production phase at mosaic moments studio Brasilia October 2015 - Februar 2016:

Alina d'Alva Duchrow, 
My family: Martin, Hillary, Emil, Charlotte Louise, Kilian Raiser
Cida Carvalho, Lidia, Robson, Laura Anduze

During the installation phase in Ayvalik in March/April 2016:
Ümit, Rifat Kaya, Nasuh, Yusuf Usta, Monika,  Elfriede Dann, Berkan Karaduman, Kudret, Derya, Dirk Schaefer








THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – finally in Ayvalik fifth week

And there they came….

ready for the magic moment of uncovering the floor pieces!

these figures were produced in August in Gaziantep and had been stuck on canvas since then. It was much harder to get the glue off then on the wall pieces. But with the enthusiasm and strength of 3 teenagers and a lot of very hot water and hard brushes we managed to remove all the glue within 2 hours.

I was absolutely stunned how beautiful these figures came out. Almost all tesserae stuck in the cement. There were only a few single stones that were loose.

As you can see in the following pictures in the area of the figures where tesserae have been joined tightly together the cement did not get up to the surface. Whilst in the background area, where the spaces between the tesserae was left deliberately larger it mattered how much sand I applied for the cement to squeeze all the way up or to stay down and keep a grout line open.

I was afraid the tesserae wouldn’t stick well enough if the grout lines where only marginally filled with cement.

I must admit that at this moment again, I SO much regretted not to use traditional roman cement! In roman mosaics there is just ONE setting cement and no different materials are used for glueing and grouting. This works so much easier as one does not need to be afraid to keep grout lines open when putting tesserae down.

Another time consuming difficulty I created was to have added partly background tesserae to the fish figures.  This was not the original plan. I wanted to put just the figures down without any background tesserae and then apply the background directly on the floor. This would have given me more flexibility with the placing of the figures. It would also not have mattered in which direction they were looking.

But because the  building work in the room was not ready when I arrived for installation, I had to find a way to start with the background work in the studio.

Knowing about the difficulty that a background with lines would create , I contemplated to fill the spaces between the figures randomly and not use lines. But I  decided against it because I was afraid the figures would loose their expression if they would not be in a defined background.

What shall I do with this whirly – twirly figure in the centre?

For filling the gaps between the figures I had 5 days. ( My time was limited, because I negotiated one month away from the family for the installation and I had taken a week extension. So I couldn’t possibly have extended again. Without the help of Berkan Karaduman, a young man that just moved from Istanbul to Ayvalik, I would not have managed it. I am very grateful!

We applied the following method:

edges of the figures were cleaned of cement with hammer and a fine chisel

cement mixed out of white and grey tile cement mixed with 1:1 latex and water liquid like a cake dough mix

to the consistency of playdough
the gap was well wetted with a spray bottle
pressed the cement into the gap and layd tesserae loosely onto it, then pressing it down to the level of the figure with a straight board

After working frantically patch by patch I was really questioning what we were doing. Putting the right amount of cement onto the floor so that the grout lines would still be a bit open but the cement would not squeeze to the surface was impossible to predict. I really questioned my ablilitys and regretted not having taken more lessons in working with this direct method on the ground or inviting a master over to help me putting this mosaic on the floor.

Only when I took this photo on day 3 I became much more relaxed. It did look good! Its so important to step back and look at a mosaic from far! Doing this on a floor mosaic is quite tricky. You have to climb up above it. Here I am standing on the 40cm high bench.

Almost done with the background!

On Wednesday evening I put the last stone down. Thursday morning the tiler would come and put the grout down. Thursday night I would fl back to Brasilia. Just made it!

the ungrouted AYVALIK MOSAIC