Muslim Mosaics

We originally did this art project to go along with a study of the way Muslims traditionally made mosaics.  Unlike the Christian mosaics which included people and landscapes, Muslim artwork focused on geometry of shapes and patterns.  People were not seen on their mosaic murals at all in fact.  If you look in any traditional Muslim building you won’t see portrayals of people and animals.  You will see artwork made of geometric patterns and shapes though.

We started by making basic salt dough and barely mixing in a few drops of food coloring.  We wanted it to look like an old wall made of plaster instead of a perfectly mixed batch of dough.  I was planning on yellow for an old world look, but I am outnumbered by my children who all voted for blue.  We put the salt dough on bits of parchment paper for easy clean-up, and just kind of smashed them into squarish patties.  Then it was time for beads.


We used pony beads as our mosaic pieces, squishing them into the dough to create repeating patterns and geometric designs.


Each kid had their own color scheme and patterns.  I’ve got to say, this was one of my favorite art projects of the school year.  It was really simple and easy enough for all my kids to do (even the 2 year-old!), but the kids were engrossed from start to finish.  The truth is, so was I.  I couldn’t help but join in and make one too:


I can’t even articulate why it was so fun; it just was!  We often paint and draw, and we even sculpt.  We cut and paste and we make collages.  This was the first time I had ever pressed beads into clay before.  Brought me right back to my play-doh, light brite, easy bake oven days.  I joined right in and felt like a kid again.  Learning about the mosaics of the Muslims was really fascinating, but even if you aren’t planning on that particular lesson, get some clay and beads and just go to town on this random, fun art project!

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