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Pebble Mosaic Artist John Botica: Why Mosaic?

On 26, Mar 2012 | 29 Comments | In Uncategorized | By Nancie

The earliest mosaics were made of pebbles.  Small, flat stones were hand-placed into mortar to create smooth surfaces for the Greeks to walk upon.   Today, New Zealand mosaicist John Botica uses the same techniques and materials to create extraordinary works of art.  His elegant designs incorporating Maori legends and the flora and fauna of his adopted country are universally appealing.  Perhaps that is why his clients (including film maker Peter Jackson) place Botica’s work in spaces they consider very special.  John Botica believes that pebble mosaics are his destiny.  We do, too.

I am a self-taught pebble mosaic artist with no formal art training.

Across the Cultures, 2007 3 meters diameter  Ponsonby’s Western Park

I am obsessed with pebbles – with their beauty, their shape, their form, their texture.

I love hunting for my pebbles. I search for them in places far across the oceans and in the beaches just a few kilometers from my home.


Porte Cochere   Private residence

I love the process of placing each pebble, one by one, into its bed of sand. When I am working, I enter a realm of timeless awareness.

I love how my mosaics shimmer and vibrate with the hours of the day and changes in the weather. They are never the same at any moment in time.

The artist’s studio.

I love the physicality of working in pebble mosaics. Before I was an artist, I was an athlete.  It feels good to work with my body.

I am fascinated by the power of pebble mosaic design. How can something so simple convey such big ideas?

Tane Mahuta and Kereru, 2009 3 meters diameter  Wilson School, Takapuna, Aukland

I am humbled by the permanence of pebble mosaics – that I have created a thing of beauty that will last lifetimes is a joy to me.

Koru Land    2010  2.4 m diameterMangere Art Center, Auckland

People say that you have to find a passion in life to enjoy life – to make your life meaningful.  Well, I am lucky.  I have always loved beautiful things and now I am doing beautiful things.   My art is a burning fire in my heart.

John Botica, March 2012  Auckland, New Zealand


John Botica creates site-specific pebble artwork for public, private and sacred spaces internationally.  Previous articles on his work can be found on MAN here.


Portrait by Con Kiernan

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  1. Kelly

    Beautiful and soulful work! What do you use to seal or hold the pebbles to create permanence?

  2. Anupama

    What a lovely art work. It looks great and people think it’s so easy. But it’s very difficult to get the right pic. Amazing Congras Mr.John. Very inspiring.

  3. Vania Morris

    Hi John, just wanted to say what an inspiration your lovely work is. Im just embarking on designing my first pebble mosaic for a local nature reserve in Conwy, Wales, uk. It will be so good to work with natural materials and hopefully present a lasting piece of art for the many visitors to the site. Thankyou for your inspiration!!!Feeling positive now!

    • John Botica


      I am thankful for your appreciation of my art and I wish you a lot of success with your new project.
      John Botica

  4. Melanie Watts Mosaics

    “I am obsessed with pebbles – with their beauty, their shape, their form, their texture”.

    Wow John, what a lovely line … your work is absolutely beautiful and a total inspiration to me ! I will show your work to my local Arts Officers in the hops we can do some work like this here – what do you think ? Obviously with your input ? Gorgeous and striking Mosaic Art for so many to enjoy 🙂

    • John Botica

      Thank you for your beautiful acknowledgment of my art.My dream and vision is to create pebble mosaics worldwide and to introduce as many people as possible to this irresistible medium of expression.I would be very interested to collaborate with you on a project that you possibly have in mind.Are you based in the US?
      My obsession with pebbles is real and eternal!
      Thanking you again,
      John Botica

  5. Orazio

    Dear Mr. John

    I am Horace Porto, I live in Catania (Sicily) Italy, I discovered the beautiful work that she has done with the pebbles in the other part of the world, really beautiful, me, me and dad do this work from tradition to us here in Sicily , for the use of mosaic sea pebbles, taken in the Ionian Sea, it is nice to discover new colors and new techniques, something like we did at one island in Corsica, I’d love to exchange opinions, even if distant work would be of interest to me, I am also pleased to send you various photos of work we have done, I await your news.

    best regards
    Orazio Porto

    • John Botica

      Dear Orazio,

      I thank you for your approval of my art.I would love to see what you do and exchange ideas.
      Thanking you in advance.
      John Botica

  6. graeme abbott

    Hi John, I have made a few stone mosaics, copied the Ernst Buhler method,i would like to like to know what brand of non shrink grout you use,and where I can purchase some, admire your works, regards Graeme

    • John Botica

      Graeme,I use Sika 212 grout……Try calling Sika and they will tell you where to get it….

  7. Emma

    Hi John
    I am a M.Sc. student. My major is soil science. I love soil and pebbles. I admire you. You are very skillful at this art. I can see the power of pebbles in your art.
    Good luck

  8. Andjelka

    This made me so proud! Proud to come from the same country / Serbia/, just as you did, proud to be your virtual friend! I hope that our roads are going to cross soon, and that we are going to meet each other. I am looking forward to see your work in person some day.
    John, I wish you all success !

  9. sandy

    I too am attracted to pebbles.. I live in Michigan, have your ever seen the petoskey stone? It is our state stone. When pebble hunting on the beaches it’s a little thrill when we find one..
    Nice work Love It

  10. Peter Francis

    Let me tell you about a young ,John Botica which I had the absolute pleasure of knowing very well at Ohio State University.John was on the O.S.U. tennis team and was
    a standout player,as was his father. John is highly intelligent,highly educated, world traveled and loves music.He was always gifted as an artist.
    John has something very rare that exceeds the forementioned items.John comes from a very loving family and he speaks from his heart.I have found him to be extremely likeable,interesting and he has impecable taste.John has always lived with passion,drive and a vest for life. He enbodies his own unique brand of European class.
    God Bless and your family , Peter.

  11. Frederica Venn

    Beautiful work with inspiring designs. I wonder though what kind of grout or setting material you use, you mention setting in sand but some of the photographs do not show that technique – I think. Instead ‘glued’ onto a pre made base? Love to know, it you would be willing to share or comment. I work in Community Arts, which often involves mosaics, in many ‘sensitive’ or ‘difficult’ parts of the world as a peace bonding excercise, and wonder if small rocks or chips could work, despite being not good to stand on) where access to the sea or even river beds are out of reach, but I always find some kind of concrete/cement/grout or PVA adhesive.

    • John Botica

      Hello Frederica,

      I apreciate your ackowledgments relating to my art.I use indirect method where pebbles are set into sand and a special non-shrink cementitious grout is poured over pebbles.This grout is in liquid form usually mixed in ratio of 5:1(five parts of grout to one part of water).This grout is used in construction industry and is of enormous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! strength.When the grout hardens a bit concrete aggregate is poured over pebbles embedded in grout and the next day when concrete hardens the whole mould is reversed….
      Kind regards,
      John Botica

  12. george ehling

    Your work is great. i always liked pebble and rock and stone work. in my case i used what icould get. dumpster tile and rocks from my hill. if i could get an extension on life i would do pebbles, but at 85 my time is limited.

    • Nancie

      George, you have done the most amazing work in your lifetime! You and John are kindred spirits, I know.

    • John Botica

      Hello George,

      First and foremost I’m thankful for appreciating my art.I do not think it is late for you to do something with pebbles.You can do smaller pieces.It is going to be so satisfying for you!!!
      Kind regards,

  13. Carlene Landguth

    Hello John-I came across your site and was compelled to write. I am not an artist. I am a wife, mom of 3, and physical therapist from South Dakota, USA. Last year my brother and I were in France at a centuries old village called St. Paul de Vence. There were walkways there with simple pebble mosaics in them. I was instantly mezmorized and in love with this walkway and took many pictures. My brother thought I was a little weird! Anyway, I started looking for how to do such a thing, and have come across several books and pictures of pebble mosaics. It is hard to explain how I feel when I look at them, almost a need to learn how to create these. No other form of art has ever drawn me in like this. I have ordered a book on the basics and can’t wait to get it. Like you said in your last post, it facinates me. Well, I feel better, I’m just not sure my husband or friends would understand me wanting to start to make designs out of rocks (mid-life crisis alert!) Your art is beautiful, maybe I’ll post a picture of my first attempt! Carlene Landguth

    • Nancie Mills Pipgras

      Hi Carlene – I will make sure that John sees your wonderful comment in his essay here on Mosaic Art NOW. I don’t believe he has a blog, but you can see more of his work and get in touch with him at I know he would love to hear from you! Nancie

    • John Botica

      Hello Carlene,
      I’m thankful for your appreciation of my art.It is a strong reminder that I’m on a right path.With me it is not a mid-life crisis alert,it is am emergency with all these pebbles on my mind.At any rate Nancie has given you my website and do contact me on my private email address since I would like to help you with your venture.
      The mosaics you are talking about in France are “calades” and they are mostly found in the south of France and in the Provance area.
      Once again,thank you for sharing your thoughts.
      John Botica

  14. The man for making art uses material from nature and transforms them. In your case the materials are taken from nature and used without any modification. The result is as if all the pieces came together magically in a form of great beauty and harmony. As if even nature itself gives us to see all its glory in the perfection of John’s work. Best wishes John

    • Ksenia,

      To receive a message of this kind from an artist of you magnitude is an honour.
      I’m very thankful indeed.

  15. Pebbles are nature’s gift to mosaic artists and Bodica is honouring this through his work. It’s so exciting to collect the materials for your mosaic yourself even if the colour range is limited. A talented artist can make the most powerful statements with few colours, those available to us. Absolutely beautiful and great technique!

    • Magda,

      I’m thankful for your comments.My geologist friend took me to a beach that is 40min of drive from our door step.The beach was full of dark grey(almost black)pebbles.I’ve never seen such a uniform pebble and he has explained to me that it was argillite(mud stone) a very robust pebble.Can you imagine to be able to live in New Zealand(NZ has got the best pebbles in the world especially coming from the South Island) and to have such an incredible access to pebbles in your very vicinity?!Is there a message to all of this?

  16. Hi John.
    I have been following and admiring your fantastic work for some time. I admire your passion for pebble mosaic as an art form and thank you for contributing towards keeping this art alive and bringing it into a contemporary setting.
    The way your designs are complemented by the movement you created by subtle variation in the direction in which you place the pebbles is fantastic.
    My most sincere congratulations and best wishes for the future. May the beauty of pebbles both individually and collectively continue to inspire your work.

    • Hello Luis,

      What an inspiring message on your part!This will be a boost to my quest to take this art to the limit!What you’ve noticed is that in my works I try to create long/subtle beautiful lines using only skimmers and making my mosaics look like a living thing.
      These pebbles are not stationary but they are moving.
      I’m fascinated by this ancient art!
      I’m so thankful to your for acknowledging my passion!!!

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