The New Marble?
You know you’re obsessed with something when your Pinterest algorithm takes note and it’s all over your feed. I’m not going to pretend that I was an early adopter when it came to terrazzo (though I like to think that my blog background is a bit of an abstract version).
I probably only became conscious of all the bold colour combinations on Instagram last year, but it’s the kind of surface design that’s always been around. Think airport floors, schools and even the Hollywood Walk Of Fame rather than trendy cafés and fancy kitchens.
To add a little context, terrazzo dates back as early as ancient Egypt and is probably the queen of comebacks. It all came about when 15th century Italian construction workers realised that it was cheaper to mix marble chips with concrete than lay down mosaics. The name literally means ‘terrace’ and it’s seen as quite a traditional floor surface in Venice.
There was also a bit of an Art Deco and Midcentury revival before the technique fell out of favour and was used mainly for practical reasons. It’s well worth reading these Curbed, Man Repeller and Apartment Therapy articles and learning about the companies manufacturing the bespoke versions today.
I always tell myself that I’d love to do more DIYs but end up doing something like watching an entire season of Drag Race instead. Ooops. Luckily I felt all kinds of inspired after reading up on everything and decided to research different ways of creating it for myself. It’s the kind of trend that’s not absolutely everywhere yet and I’m hoping that it takes a while to reach saturation point.
Here’s 3 different methods if your obsession has reached similar levels to mine, plus a few places to buy the ready-made stuff just in case things go wrong.
I’ve used some affiliate links in this post, click here to see my policy!
The Clay Method
Original DIY By Caroline
Caroline’s post probably gave me the confidence to try all of this out in the first place. Even though I hadn’t used clay for about 17 years (and always ended up with a strange grey mass), I couldn’t resist playing around with such a flexible substance and all the different colours. You can buy the Fimo clay from Hobbycraft or Amazon and it takes 30 minutes to bake in the oven on a low heat.
Is it straightforward? You’ll probably get the best results if you’re a precise person, especially if you want a specific coaster shape. If your chopping board has marks, then this will transfer onto the clay and it’s so easy to end up picking up random fibres or dust (just don’t look at these close up). I probably should have bought this acrylic rolling pin and board rather than pinching the chopping board from the shared kitchen.
Once you have your kit sorted, there’s so much potential with this technique since you can make coasters, jewellery or any other decoration that takes your fancy. It’s also relatively quick to do and not too messy.
The Resin Method
Workshop by Olivia Aspinall
It was just as well that I had a terrazzo tile workshop planned for the one rainy Sunday in July. Again, I have to thank Instagram for the discovery. Olivia Aspinall graduated from Central St Martin’s in print design and gradually developed her contemporary take on terrazzo after using elements in her degree show. Now she creates bespoke interior projects in her Nottingham studio, as well as running events around the country.
Is it straightforward? This is a great idea if you work better under supervision. The workshop takes place over four hours and Olivia takes you through her casting process using jesmonite (a brand of resin).
I quickly realised how important it was to listen to every detail. There’s so much room for error if you mess up calculations and end up with a mixture that doesn’t set. You also have to keep an open mind. I went in hoping to make the perfect pastel pink tile and ended up with something completely different that I’ve grown to appreciate.
Be prepared to get a little messy and don’t wear fluted sleeves like I did. It’s definitely a calming way to spend an afternoon and you get so much satisfaction once you’re sanding down the tile and start to see the pattern.
Olivia has a bowl workshop coming up later this month, plus some more tile masterclasses in October (definitely a great gift for a creative friend). You can also buy tiles from her online shop and stalk some of her projects.
The Heat-Transfer Vinyl Method
Original DIY by Kara
I probably didn’t need to add to my cushion collection but couldn’t resist when I spotted this DIY on Pinterest. It also ended up being my favourite method in the end. Just add your shapes to a plain cushion cover and iron them on. H&M is great for plain textiles and Amazon seemed to be the easiest place to buy heat-transfer vinyl. Whilst I’d misinterpreted few of the colours (the mint green I was hoping for looked more neon), I’m really pleased with how I made things work.
Is it straightforward? Creating the shapes and planning the layout was probably the most fun part. You don’t have to be precise when cutting the vinyl and no part gets wasted, as you can just turn it into another piece.
The trickiest bit is the ironing. Make sure you understand how your particular vinyl works as instructions may be confusing (I had to place the textured side down) and you need to be very patient. Although it looks cool, you don’t want the pieces to layer on top of each other as they won’t stick.
Even though my cushion could do with a bit more ironing, the process brought back memories of being tactile and creative without any pressure. I wouldn’t mind seeing this pattern scaled-up on a dress.
There’s nothing like a creative project to make you realise how therapeutic it all is. I’d definitely like to factor more of this into my life. It also helps that terrazzo is such a varied pattern. It’s hard to get wrong and can look so different depending on the colours, materials, size and shape of the pieces.
Let me know if you’re also obsessed and whether you attempt any of these!