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What order do I work in?

I was asked is there a particular order should you work and does it make a difference? The answer is yes to both. The order you work in can determine not just how well your mosaic comes out but also how well you learn and improve. You need to work in a set manner which doesn't change whatever the size or complexity of the piece. 
I've deliberately chosen a small section of the most basic pattern to show how this works. Later on I'll put on more complex patterns and you will see how exactly the same principles are used.
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 what order 1   1. Place the centre tesserae, these have to go in at the correct place. The other measurement is the width, all the other lines you see are just guidelines, nothing more. 
You need to work as if you were going to progress onto setting the mosaic with nothing but the width and position of the single centre tesserae (CT).
 what order 2  2. From the inside line of the pattern, curving around the CT. This line goes at 45 degrees (roughly) down to hit the outer limit on a line vertically underneath the next CT.
 what order 3  3. If you've just started then it might make sense to put in the 3 lines of colour tesserae (white, yellow, red). It's logical and it does work, but it doesn't teach you to develop your eye for the space needed.
 what order 4  4. Here is how you should work. CT in place, centre line curling around the CT. Place a black tesserae 3 tesserae width way from the middle one. You can place 3 tesserae in the gap to check or better still, mark a staff so you have a permanent record of your tesserae widths.
what order 5    5. Here is what you need to consider, 
A is 3 tesserae away from the CT.
B sits on the vertical line up from the CT, 3 tesserae from the inner black line.
C. Is where the outer black line ends (or to be more correct disappears under the next strand).
D is dead space, if your line has to move further in to that area or the lines moves out from it, it doesn't matter. You'll just fill it whatever size it ends up. One way of looking at this is that it is the light you can see on either side of the plait.
I've shown these black tesserae set on their own but you would start at A and just set them in a continuous line.
 
 what order 6  6. As you set this outer black line just think, 'leave a 3 tesserae gap from the inner line, hit the outer line vertical to the CT, head down at 45 degrees to the next CT and curve around it'.
It's a lot to think about at first but it's a bit like driving a car, hard to remember everything at first but later on you do it without thinking.
 
 what order 7  7. Don't do this, if you're not very clear in your head about where the line is going you can end up curling it right around the CT. It's easily done so you must always ask yourself, 'where's my line?'
what order 8 8. If I have a longer tesserae to hand then I'll use this so it is quite clear that I'm going past that CT, the line is down at 45 degrees and not about to curl around. Don't look for a longer tesserae though this is just if you have one in sight.
what order 9

9. What you should be working to. The CT are set according to the marks on your staff and you only need to know where these are placed and the width of the border. Once you have these two things then you can work freehand.

what order 10 10. With the CT in place I know the first black line is 3 tesserae away from the CT at 45 degrees. The line will go around 3 tesserae away from the inner line and will hit the maximum width at a point vertical to the CT.
Then it will go 3 tesserae away from the inner line at 45 degrees down to the next CT.
what order 11 11. Develop your eye for the distances, think of the space you need to leave in terms of the tesserae. Try not to rely on measuring things out too much.

Copyright Lawrence Payne 2017