Linoleum asphalt mosaics, also called Toynbee Tiles, are artworks permanently embedded in pavement. In this video I’ll show you how to construct your own from inexpensive materials. You can get real linoleum (don’t use vinyl flooring) for this project by ordering free samples online. By cutting out a mosaic design in the linoleum and sandwiching it between layers of paper, wood glue, and asphalt crack filler, you can affix the mosaic very permanently to an asphalt surface, such as your driveway. You may choose to use a heat gun to make the linoleum easier to cut, or even a laser cutter. The earliest examples of these tiles were found in the 70s and 80s on streets in Philadelphia, all bearing the same (or very similar) message: “Toynbee idea / in Kubrick’s 2001 / resurrect dead / on planet Jupiter.” They are speculated to have been created by the same person until they began to gain a following. There’s an active message board on the topic which shares sightings and other information. If you make one, please share your pictures in the CRAFT Flickr pool!
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Thanks to my pal Matt Mechtley for his help on this one. In this video I used this cc-licensed photo by Flickr user mojunk. The music is “Regurgitation Pumping Station” from the World of Goo soundtrack by Kyle Gabler; used with permission.
6 thoughts on “Linoleum Asphalt Mosaics – CRAFT Video Podcast”
Nice urban art project!
One thing that I felt got glossed over in the video:
You bond the face of the tile to a sheet of tar paper, then leave it in place, after the back is stuck down to the pavement. Then, “In a few weeeks, ti will be revealed.”
Is that delay part of the intent, as the paper on the face wears away? Or is there some other way to temporarily anchor it all together during assembly, so it can be “displayed” immediately?
@Dave good point. If it’s in your driveway and you drive over it repeatedly every day, it should wear off due to friction, but a little water wouldn’t hurt. Since you’re supposed to use water-soluble glue between the top layer and the linoleum, a hose and a scrubby broom should do the trick! I’m sure you could just stick the individual pieces of linoleum to the asphalt if you had the space to let it be until the crack filler dries; the top layer is just for protection until it sets!
Asphalt shingle scraps can glue down to an asphalt surface and last a surprisingly long time. This might work well for less intricate designs.
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