Day-of-the-Dead Mosaic Grouted

Black Grout vs White Grout

Black grouts bring out the intensity of tile colors while white grouts overwhelm them. Natalie Knox’s Day of the Dead Skull mosaic is a good example of how well black grouts work and how a light colored backer isn’t a good indicator of the mosaic would look with white grout.

Don’t Be Fooled

If you lay the mosaic out on a white backer and try to use that as an indication of what the mosaic will look like with white grout, remember this:

When the gaps are filled with grout, they won’t have all the contrast provided by empty gaps, which have depth and shadow. A lot of white concrete at the same level as the surface of the glass tends to make the colors look washed out. Continue reading

Lethe River of Forgetting

Backers for Outdoor Garden Mosaics

Outdoor mosaics must be made on concrete or stone or masonry, but that doesn’t mean you have to pour a concrete slab or do some other form of heavy construction.

Flagstones (flat paving stones) and concrete stepping stones are readily available at building material stores and lawn and garden centers. The flagstones are great if you want a natural irregular shapes, and the molded stepping stones are great for square and rectangular shapes.

Of course, thinset mortar must be used to attach the tiles, but that isn’t difficult to do, especially if you lay your mosaic up in advance on mosaic mounting tape or mounting paper.

If that seems complicated, it isn’t. I wrote some instructions for using packing tape and contact paper to lay up a mosaic design.

The last section of this article explains why you shouldn’t use plywood, Hardibacker, or (sometimes) even concrete backer board. Continue reading

Common Ground Public Art Mosaic Tables

Materials and Methods for Outdoor Mosaic Tables

Artist Risa Puno recently completed her interactive mosaic sculpture Common Ground for Rufus King Park in Jamaica Queens, NYC, and the project is a great example for discussing materials and methods for mosaic table tops.

No Plywood Backers Outdoors

Plywood is never an acceptable backer for outdoor mosaic table tops.

Humidity in outdoor air can cause plywood to swell, contract, and warp, and even if the displacement is too small to be noticed, it can still cause grout to crack and tiles to pop off. Once grout has hairline cracks, moisture can penetrate underneath, and then there isn’t any hope for the mosaic lasting after that happens.

If you have a wooden table that you want to mosaic for outdoors, then attach a piece of 1/4-inch concrete backer board over the top of the wood and mosaic on that. 

Seal your finished outdoor mosaic with a tile and grout sealer and reseal it each fall. Silicone-based gout sealers are wipe-on-wipe-off and easy to apply. Most of the work is buffing off the excess so that the surfaces are slippery. Continue reading

Natalija Moss's temporary stained glass mosaic studio

Artist Studios at the MAS Warehouse

The Mosaic Art Supply warehouse is filled with artist studios in appropriated spaces: the loading dock, the office, the reception area, and mixed-use tables in the middle of the warehouse itself.

In my most recent blog post, I discussed how purchases from Mosaic Art Supply support the arts in a real and direct way. In this blog article, I wanted to show pictures of some of the studio areas in our warehouse. Continue reading

Artist Employees at Mosaic Art Supply

Employees at Mosaic Art Supply are emerging artists actively pursuing their passions.

Support the Arts in a Real Way

Every purchase you make from us supports the arts in a real and direct way, perhaps more so than any donation you could make to an arts related charity or foundation. For starters, we don’t have grossly overpaid directors from the patrician class, and we pay our employees as much as we can afford. More than we can afford actually, but not what they are worth.

Unlike a lot of charities and foundations with overpaid directors, we have never had any unpaid interns.

Angela Bortone

Artist Angela Bortone

Artist Angela Bortone

Angela Bortone is a painter, video artist and art writer. She mixes other people’s voices into her paintings and videos. Born in the Dominican Republic, Bortone was raised in Brooklyn and spent nearly a decade abroad in Germany before moving to Atlanta in 2002. She earned a BFA in studio art from Georgia State University in 2010.

Continue reading

West-Indies Flag Abstract Mosaic Pattern

Abstract Geometric Mosaic Table Tops

Inspiring mosaic table tops with abstract geometric patterns were recently created by artist Risa Puno as part of her public art project Common Ground, an interactive sculpture designed to bring people closer together physically.

The concept of Risa’s sculpture plays on the metaphor of multiculturalism as mosaic, but instead of the folk or children’s artwork usually associated with that theme , there are cleaner abstract designs with color choices that ensure that each table has similar levels of intensity and contrast. The result is that the combined “quilt” is balanced and unified visually. Continue reading

California Mosaic Bench

California Mosaic Bench

Keira Miller recently made a mosaic bench in the shape of the state of California with a class of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  The mosaic bench is made from California redwood and is to be auctioned off as part of a fundraiser to benefit their Montessori school.

Note that we do NOT recommend wood as a backer for outdoor mosaics, but if this mosaic had to be placed outdoors, some of the drier regions of California would be ideal. I think the mosaic would do well on a covered porch, and it would be a great addition to a family room or den. Continue reading

Love Is In The Air Mosaic Chair Detail

Must-See Mosaic Sculpture By Cherie Bosela

Artist Cherie Bosela has some mixed-media mosaic sculpture that you really should see, especially if you are considering making some of your own. Cherie’s body of work is incredible, and it includes bas relief mosaics (flat panel with raised elements) and figurative sculpture encrusted with glass beads and found objects such as seashells.

I absolutely love her stuff and how well material choices resonate with the subject matter, specifically the use of beads to create insects and flowers. (The ancient Egyptian word(s) for jewelry translates literally as “artificial flowers and animals,” if I remember correctly.) Continue reading

Missing Tiles Detail View Mosaic Art

Why Did My Tiles Come Loose From Thinset?

Recently, artist Jackye Mills emailed me about a problem she was having with her first mosaic project, and it really caused me a lot of angst because the artwork was a strong design that was otherwise well executed. I hated the thought that a first-time mosaicist could do such a good job on something so ambitious only to lose the project due to a technical issue. Continue reading