Abstract Mosaic-Covered River Stones by Barbara Stutts

Abstract Mosaics As “Quilt” Elements

Artist Barbara Stutts recently emailed me some photos of her abstract mosaic stepping stones and mosaic-covered river stones, and they resonated with me for several reasons.

Barbara says she is relatively new to mosaic, but her abstract mosaics are worth sharing because they are well executed and serve as good teaching examples.

In this case, one of the lessons needing a teaching example is what beautiful art you can make without drawing or rending an image in any way.

Abstract Mosaic Plaque p1 by Barbara Stutts
Abstract Mosaic Stepping Stone p1 by Barbara Stutts

Mosaic stepping stones such as these can be made directly on concrete stepping stones using thinset mortar, and you can purchase both products at a local building material store.

If you need something lighter and thinner for a mosaic that will be mounted vertically on an outdoor wall, you could use a large porcelain floor tile in either 12 inch or 18 inch size as the backer.

A Series of Smalls

Barbara’s mosaics also resonated with me because I am making small square mosaics of the same size to be used as components in a larger “quilt” of many different mosaics.

I would like to a see a wall or floor “tiled” with many different abstract mosaics like Barbara’s arranged in a random quilt like I have in mind for my current project.

Mosaic Patio Idea

Abstract Mosaic Plaque p4 by Barbara Stutts
Abstract Mosaic Stepping Stone p4 by Barbara Stutts

Mosaic patios and lanais can be made from concrete stepping stones simply laid on top of the existing concrete surface of the patio. The usually approach is to install all the blank stones and replace them one at a time with a mosaic-covered stepping stone as you have time or reason to make them.

Think about the advantages of creating the mosaic patio that way. Instead of one large stressful construction project, there are numerous small enjoyable art sessions over the months and years.

TIP: Children’s birthdays and other family events can be commemorated with a mosaic stepping stone in the patio. Stones can be made for school-break projects, grandparent visits, etc.

Abstract Mosaic Plaque p3 by Barbara Stutts
Abstract Mosaic Stepping Stone p3 by Barbara Stutts

You can also make some great

Abstract Mosaic-Covered River Stone a1 by Barbara Stutts
Abstract Mosaic-Covered River Stone a1 by Barbara Stutts

Uniform Grout Gaps

Your grout gaps don’t have to be this uniform, but look how much stronger Barbara’s design is with the uniform gap, especially when accented with black grout.

Abstract Mosaic-Covered River Stone b2 by Barbara Stutts
Abstract Mosaic-Covered River Stone b2 by Barbara Stutts
Piano Stool Seat by Barbara Stutts
Piano Stool Seat by Barbara Stutts
Piano Stool Seat by Barbara Stutts, before  grouting
Piano Stool Seat by Barbara Stutts, before grouting


These mosaics were made using our Irregular Glazed Ceramic Tile. Mosaic-covered river stones like those shown in the first image could be made fairly efficiently using either out 8mm or 12mm Recycled Glass Mosaic Tiles, depending on the size of the stone you wanted to cover.

Keep in mind that glass tile is cheaper than glazed ceramic tile, and it is much more durable, especially outdoors.



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6 responses to “Abstract Mosaics As “Quilt” Elements”

  1. Chris Avatar

    Do you carry the tiny tiles that a couple of the stones were done with?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      I think those are ceramic, which isn’t good outdoors where it freezes. Ceramic is also more expensive than glass. We have tiny glass tiles in 8mm. These can be easily cut into 4mm cubes, which is smaller than most people care to use.

  2. Bobbi Mothes Avatar
    Bobbi Mothes

    Thank you for showcasing this artist’s beautiful work! I love your blog. Reading it is one of the things that gave me the confidence to — tile my bathroom. Not exactly on point, I know, but understanding tile-setting is a highly transferable skill. Next up is a mahogany coffee table with a ruined leather top that would look great with a giant flower mosaic instead… Thanks for the info and inspiration!


    Very good…wish someday I can do the same
    Thanks for your notes
    Tony Ferlazzo

  4. Carol MCCullah Avatar
    Carol MCCullah

    Is there a preferred thinset or grout to use for outdoor projects. Is weather a consideration when doing the outdoor stepping stones. Is a sealer necessary? I know some ceramic is not suitable for outdoor use so can you make some suggestions on what to use?


    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      I use Versabond brand thinset mortar for all my mosaics. Sealing is definitely needed for outdoor stepping stones. Glass tile is frost proof but ceramic is vulnerable to freeze damage.

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