Throughout Ancient Rome, in Western and Central Europe, and in the Islamic World, mosaics have been used in domestic and religious decoration. Mosaics are composed of small pieces of glass, stone, or any material that can be secured against a background to compose a pattern. The individual pieces are called tesserae and the flow of the entire piece is called Andamento. Different colors of glass form not only specific areas of distinct color as in a picture, but can also be used to create subtle nuances of color that give the image texture, warmth, and dimension
In the modern world, mosaics adorn both public and private spaces. One of Philadelphia's great charms, besides its cobblestone streets and public murals, are the mosaics that interlace the insides and outsides of buildings throughout the city. Most were done by the notable mosaicist Isaiah Zagar, whose signature work is scrawled everywhere from bathrooms to hallways to his labyrinthine mosaic museum The Magic Garden. Because mosaics can be used as tiling, they decorate indoor and outdoor walls, ceilings, furniture, and walkways with fun, funky, or sacred images. Some mosaicists take broken glass, cans, bottles...anything solid, really...reusing materials while creating something beautiful.