Smalti Byzantine Glass Mosaic Tile

Byzantine glass mosaic tile or smalti is the type of opaque glass tile used in classical Byzantine mosaics. Smalti is not molded into uniform shapes like modern glass mosaic tile.

Smalti is made by mixing glass and various minerals according to traditional recipes and melting the mixture in a furnace. The molten glass is then poured onto a slab for cooling, and then cut by hand into rectangular pieces. The pieces are about 1/2" or smaller and they aren't perfect rectangles. They vary in thickness, shape, size and color. These natural variations in shape and color are exactly what make smalti the perfect mosaic material and allow the artist to create beautifully detailed images.

There are many colors included in our smalti assortment: flesh tones, earth tones, bright colors, etc. Here are some facts about smalti or Byzantine mosaic glass:

  • Smalti is opaque glass mosaic tiles made according to traditional recipes in small batches.
  • Natural variations in shape and color make smalti the ideal material for making life-like mosaics.
  • Each tile is a hand-cut, not molded like modern glass mosaic tiles.
  • Shapes are irregular rectangles with occasional triangles.
  • Size of each tile is about the size of a dime or less.
  • Thickness ranges from about 3/16" to 1/4".
  • To cover one sq. ft., you need between two and three pounds of smalti.
  • Smalti cuts quickly and easily with Wheeled Glass Cutters.

For advice on how select mosaic materials and plan projects for beginners, please see our Mosaic Questions page or our page of Mosaic Instructions.