Mosaic Tile Artwork Prague Orloj Astronomical Clock Medallion

Hand Cut Opus Mosaic Medallion Based on a Fascinating Medieval Astronomical Clock

Story of a handcrafted mosaic tile artwork floor medallion inspired by the awe-inspiring Prague Orloj—a 15th-century astronomical clock that combines medieval engineering with artistic brilliance. 

astronomical clock Prague Opus Venetian glass mosaic floor hand cut title

We were commissioned by a leading sports goods manufacturer to create this unique medallion as a centerpiece for their foyer. The client, deeply fascinated by Czech architecture, wanted something special to commemorate a significant business milestone.

The Mosaic Inspiration – Prague Orloj Astronomical Clock

The Orloj is a 15th century mechanical engineering and artistic marvel located in the Czech capital’s old Town Hall building. It is one of the oldest fully functioning Astronomical clocks in the world.

Prague Orloj photograph by George M. Groutas
The Prague Orloj photograph by George M. Groutas

So what exactly does this Iconic 600+ year old timepiece do? The Prague Orloj shows the relative positions of the sun, moon and Zodiac constellations. The Astronomical clock also shows the time, of course. The outermost dial of the clock shows some glyphs that represent the ancient Czech time. As we move inwards there is a Roman numeral ring showing 24 hours of the day. The time piece is more sophisticated than a normal clock and shows unevenly spaced markings to depict “unequal” hours. No wonder our client chose it as the subject of their commissioned mosaic tile artwork.

Capturing Time and Space

The Orloj’s face, with its Earth-centered design, is surrounded by colors and lines representing different times of the day—sunrise, daytime, sunset, and nighttime. It also includes geographical information such as the equator and the tropics.

Close-up of the Orloj Opus mosaic medallion

Zodiacal Ring & Position of the Sun

Over the main clock face is a Zodiacal ring that shows the Zodiac constellation signs, shown in an anticlockwise arrangement. The sun dial rotates along this dial to show the elliptical position of the sun. Think of the Orloj as a mechanical version of an Medieval astronomical (planispheric) astrolabe, an early scientific instrument that helped astronomers calculate the position of the sun and some stars and constellations with respect to the meridian and horizon.

For our client, we recreated the Orloj face to reflect the exact time and position of the sun during the inauguration of their factory’s expansion—a moment immortalized in mosaic.

The Moon Dial & Lunar Phases of the Prague Orloj

One of the most fascinating elements of the Orloj is its lunar dial. It not not only shows the relative position of the moon, but the phase of the moon as observable from the earth as well. There is a half black and half silver sphere. The sphere is rotated with a tooth gear inside which is powered by gravity only. How cool is that! On a full moon date the silver half of the sphere will be apparent. A mostly black side with a sliver of silver hemisphere will be apparent on new moon dates to depict the crescent.

Orloj sun and moon dial mosaic tile floor medallion close up

Choosing the Right Materials

Creating the Orloj mosaic medallion required selecting materials that balanced durability and vibrant color. While marble offers durability for high-traffic areas, it lacks the bright, lively colors available in MEC’s glass color library. However, traditional glass mosaics like Murano and Vertex wouldn’t withstand heavy foot traffic.

The Opus Italiano Mosaic Solution

Since durability and vibrancy were both important and choosing marble or vertex glass meant compromising on one of those things, we resorted to Opus floor mosaic tiles. The client was delighted to learn about these fortified glass flooring tile materials. A glass that doesn’t crack when stepped in a thousand times. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Opus Italiano is a fortified Venetian glass enamel mosaic material that has been developed especially for high-traffic floor areas. Its smooth beveled (rounded) edges make them amazing for barefoot  walking as well.

Another advantage that Opus has over marble mosaic floorings is that there is little to no need for regular repair and it does not need to be polished and buffed.

Crafting the Orloj Medallion

Working with Opus glass involves special tools and safety precautions, but the effort is worthwhile when the mosaic artwork is complete. At MEC, we keep our clients involved throughout the process, sharing behind-the-scenes video clips and photographs, enhancing their experience and connection to the project.

When you choose MEC, you are kept in loop throughout the process. Many of our clients are delighted by the behind-the-scenes videos clips and photographs of the fabrication process we share with them.

astronomical clock Prague Opus venetian glass mosaic floor hand cut

Get Your Own Orloj Flooring Medallion

You too can have a custom Orloj clock face mosaic tile artwork handcrafted for your home. Capture special moments like birthdays, anniversaries, or milestones with the exact time and celestial positions. Personalize your medallion with initials and dates. Contact us today for a free design consultation and explore the customization options available.

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