I’ve been checking over the rewrite of the Geometric manual (Vol. II) and looking at the diagrams really made me think.
“Do you need to learn the pattern as a paper diagram before doing the mosaic?” or more to the point, “Can you learn to set a geometric pattern mosaic without knowing the underlying geometry?”.
The answer has to be yes. It’s great if you’re starting off and you want to look at all other aspects of how these patterns are made up. However, what if you took someone unfamiliar with the geometry and just set them to work with a staff and a few batons for the straight lines? Once they know where the centre tesserae are set and what the pattern should look like why do they need to know the underlying geometry? Wouldn’t this be how the Romans took unskilled labourers and set them to work on the mosaics?
I’m running a course for a group of undergrads in February, maybe I ought to try it out on them?