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  • Writer's pictureheykiddoco

What is Terrazzo?

Updated: May 6, 2021

Lets clear this air and establish how to pronounce terrazzo. I've butchered the pronunciation for far too long with my simple English tongue. Terrazzo originates from Italy, therefore the double z in the pronunciation is crucial. Imagine how you say the 'zz' in 'pizza', terrazzo follows a simpler suit and is pronounced ter-aht-zo.

Terrazzo translates literally to 'terrace'. It became a vastly utilised paving design for Italian terraces, popularised throughout the 1800's. Having a terrazzo design on paving flag was synonymous. There is a wealth of examples of terrazzo designs on display throughout architectural history and you will have likely seen it in many forms before, from walls, flooring, countertops, fireplaces and more.

Terrazzo saw a resurgence throughout the 1920's - 1940's along with the invention of divider strips and electric grinding machines. This complimented the Art Deco style of the period because the divider strips allowed for straight and curved lines to separate different colours of terrazzo mixture.

Hollywood Walk of Fame star featuring 'Mickey Mouse'

In order to create a terrazzo appearance, the method consists of taking an aggregate material and combining it with a solid bed material. The aggregate is typically composed of fragments of glass, stone, marble, usually of different colours, sizes and reflectivity to create an interesting pattern when the light reflects off the surface.

Black surface with white terrazzo design

A more modern approach has been to use pigmented Jesmonite to create exciting and unique furniture and homeware items. The process involved is much the same, however, Jesmonite is used for both the aggregate and the bed material. Manually pigmenting Jesmonite means artisans can craft unique and interesting colours, sanding away layers of Jesmonite to reveal the terrazzo chips beneath the surfaces of the bedding material.

White surface with yellow, pink, peach, orange and teal terrazzo design

Often artists, such as myself, will take the leftover (waste) material from previous casts and combine these miscellaneous colours into one utterly unique piece. This confetti explosion of colours often creates remarkable combinations. The final appearance will only become apparent once the process is finished.

White surface with colourful terrazzo design

The craft of terrazzo creates completely one-of-a-kind pieces as the terrazzo chips of different sizes fall in different locations and rotations.




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