Introduction: Linoleum Asphalt Mosaics - CRAFT Video Podcast

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!

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.

Comments

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pzh777 (author)2010-05-13

Why cant we use vinyl flooring? is there anything else that can be used?

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r3db0x (author)2010-03-28

Has anyone ordered the linoleum samples from the above link? I asked for mine about a month ago and am getting impatient.  Must have tiles...

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bekathwia (author)r3db0x2010-03-29

I remember mine taking a long time to come; they're not really in the regular business of serving end customers, but usually retailers or big companies, so customer service is at a minimum... =]

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r3db0x (author)bekathwia2010-04-03

Gotcha.  I know I have the patience of a two-year-old when it comes to stuff like this.

I'm still debating what I want to say with mine.  I'm tempted to just make a classic TOYNBEE IDEA tile and keep the weirdness going...

author
foxjaeger (author)2009-07-02

amazing idea. i can't wait to get my free samples so i can start sending my message _

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Charles IV (author)2009-04-30

I spotted one of these in a crosswalk in downtown Baltimore, but instead of the classic paranoid ramblings, it was a little yellow man who looked a wee bit like a skeleton.

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artist without a medium (author)2009-04-25

I'm curious can this be adapted to sidewalks concrete?...

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Riffraff3055 (author)2009-02-03

I first read about this in the Anarchist's Cookbook. Great project and superb video.

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bilham (author)2009-01-31

What does the bottom layer of tarpaper do? Won't that affect the permanance of the artwork? Can you put this on a street that has traffic running over it?

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bekathwia (author)bilham2009-01-31

The bottom layer helps hold the pieces of linoleum from sliding side to side and distorting the mosaic; it doesn't make the pieces come off any more easily. Yes, you can put these on a street with traffic running over it, in fact that's where most of them are. During a really hot summer with constant traffic, a tile can get morphed as the asphalt under it moves around like a very slow-moving liquid.

author
PatrickHerd (author)2009-01-31

Another cool idea from Bekathwia! On chipsealed surfaces you can embed your mosaic directly into the tar on a very hot day. We accidentally dropped some pieces of ceramic tile on the road while constructing the mosaic on our front doorstep... They're still there six years later.

Our national museum even has a possum fossilised in a similar manner.

author
discontinuuity (author)2009-01-30

That's really cool. Do you peel off the tar paper from the front after the glue dries?

author
Erfunden (author)discontinuuity2009-01-31

According to a similar tutorial, posted over at Stencil Revolution, you just let the tar paper wear away on it's own, which gives the tile time to become well affixed.

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Bio: Becky Stern is a content creator at Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from wearable electronics to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky ... More »
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