Throw away the tape measure!
Throw away the tape measure! (not completed)
Also see 'The Staff' articles here
If I asked you to measure a box on all its sides so you could then work out the area you wouldn't pick up a tape measure that is marked out in inches if you were used to working in centimetres would you?
But this is essentially what you do if you wanted to work out a mosaic for a floor and approach with a tape measure in your hand.
I believe that we need to look at mosaics in terms of the tesserae and not in centimetres or inches as it is the number of lines of tesserae which determine whether a mosaic will fit in a certain area.
Imagine you have a large central panel already marked out on the floor and you have a space between the outer edge of this panel and the wall. You want to see if you can fit a border of 2 strand guilloche pattern (pictured above) in there. The main concern is the width, so;
Option 1 you use a tape measure to measure the gap then you measure the width of a 2 strand guilloche pattern that you've done before to see if it will fit.
Option 2 you just happen to have a section of a 2 strand guilloche with you so you just chuck that into the gap to see if it fits, (your bag would be a bit heavy though!)
Option 3 as you've done this pattern before and you know it will always be the same width (as you work to a set size of tesserae) then you have convieniently marked this width on a long piece of wood. Not only have you marked on this piece of wood the width, you've also marked on it the distance between the centre point white tesserae which gives you the measurement for a full pattern.
As you have a long piece of wood (which we will now call the staff) you've marked 10 of these centre point measurements to make it quicker to measure out where to place the border mosaic between the central panel and the wall to ensure that when you get to the corner that one of the centre point tesserae is in just the right spot so the pattern can 'turn'.