joe's painting studio

Artist Joe Moorman

Artist Joe Moorman owns Mosaic Art Supply and writes the How To Mosaic blog.  He displays his art online at Riverson Fine Art. His mission is to promote contemporary mosaic as a fine art and encourage ordinary people to make original mosaic art in their own style.

Mosaic Art Supply’s selection of glass mosaic tile, mosaic art gallery and how-to-mosaic pages represent the most authoritative and complete mosaic supply site on the Internet. Founded in 2002, Mosaic Art Supply offers free project advice, low prices, quick shipping and an ever expanding selection of mosaic tile and supplies. 

To contact Joe, use his MAS email address:

inspire AT


48 responses to “Artist Joe Moorman”

  1. lynne Avatar

    Firstly, congratulations on creating such a detailed and informative site. i thank you for sharing your knowledge so freely and for free!!
    It has given me the kick up the arse l needed to get started, well begin to set up my space anyway!!!!
    l am 53 and have been gathering materials for donkey’s years. ‘Unused junk’ waiting for me to find the courage to create something wonderful….and by golly reading your stuff has done just that!! so cheers and ta very muchly. big hugs.
    Lynne from England. x

  2. Robert Avatar

    First off, I wanted to say that I really like your blog. You have posted some of the most helpful information that I have found anywhere.
    I had a question about how to attach hardiboard to outdoor cinder block. I am going to make a street number placard for the side of my home and was wondering what my options are for attaching it. It will be approx 12″X24″ and I am planning on using 1/4″ hardieboard and 1″ glass tiles. I know one way would be to drill though the cement board and the cinder blocks and use a couple of tapcon cement screws. Is there any good way to attach to the cement board that I could just screw in a couple of screws into the cinder block and then hang it over the screws? Also, what about the edges of the hardiboard, do i need to worry about sealing the edge? I have not found a good forum to pose these questions so I was hoping that you could help me out. Thanks, I love you blog.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar

      My apologies for the late reply. We have been moving to a new warehouse.

      2023 UPDATE

      For outdoor mosaics that are sealed and not immersed in water or resting on the ground, I have come around on my stance on Hardiebacker.

      I think it is an excellent backer for something like a street-number sign under a porch. Just seal the side edges of the board when you seal the finished mosaic.

      My original reply was more harsh because the manufacturer recommends the product for indoor use only because the concrete contains cellulose fibers, which are a potential food for mold.

      I don’t see a problem for using it for outdoor mosaics provided those mosaics are sealed and not immersed in water or resting on the ground or subject to the run off or drip.

      The faces of these outdoor mosaics on Hardiebacker can be exposed to precipitation no problem, but the sides and backs of the material need to be as covered and as dry as they would be indoors.

      I hope this helps some!

  3. Kathleen DeNault Avatar
    Kathleen DeNault

    Amazing information on your blog. I am looking for some advice from an experienced mosaic artist. I am doing a “mosaic” floor. Using 3/8 inch jade flat cut pebbles (various sizes…some large) interspersed with 3/8 inch stainless steel pebbles (stainless formed and wrapped over a ceramic substrate) and glass gems. I have been dry setting this “mosaic” on the floor to get the right balance of color. Now I need to lift the pieces already in place so I can put down the thinset adhesive underneath. So I need a face mounting material that is strong enough for the tile but yet can be removed after the thinset has setup. The size of this floor is 240sq ft. I have looked at the clear “tile tape” product designed for mosaic applications, however: for the amount I would need (and then discard after use), the cost of the multiple rolls of tile tape for this project would be a bit steep. Are there any other lower cost alternatives for mounting products? I’ve though about Contact paper or packing tape but I’m afraid they won’t release. I thought about that temporary clear plastic film used to cover carpets but afraid it won’t be strong enough to hold the tiles in place due to the weight of the tile. I also thought about using the old fashioned brown craft paper but I don’t like the idea of having to apply glue, then use water to release (vey messy and the addition of water may not be great on fresh thinset). Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar


      You have pretty much covered the options: the clear mosaic mounting tape or the brown mounting paper are the only thing available for picking up a loose mosaic design by the face. We don’t have the best price on the tape, so you could shop around for a better deal on that, and you could get the version that is 12″ wide. I will make a prediction for you: If you do attempt this work with an improvised solution to save money, you will in all probability end up buying one of these products and be glad you did. 240 square feet may be large as far as buying materials, but it is also large as far as the labor and frustration of trying to make some ad hoc solution work. At least if you are like most people.

      All that being said, I love to come up with improvised materials and methods to save money and labor. The “secret” to making something like that work is to test it on scrap material somewhere else instead of on the project itself. On tip I can give is that not all brown kraft paper is the same. In fact, there is a range of thicknesses and moisture resistance levels. The mosaic mounting paper has coarse fibers and was designed not to turn into mush when wet. A lot of brown kraft paper will turn into mush and create a lot of clean up work before you can grout.

      I hope this helps some.

      1. Kathleen DeNault-Ridge Avatar
        Kathleen DeNault-Ridge

        Yes…super helpful. And you are right about improvised solutions…it may seem like a good idea until you get too far into it to turn back! Then you just have to slog through it…no fun! Been there, done that! I guess my next concern is to find a material (either the clear tape or the brown kraft paper, or maybe contact paper… I even thought about packing tape), that would be strong enough to handle the weight of these tiles. The mosaic is mostly 3/8th thick jade flat cut pebbles. Even one 12×12 sheet of pebbles is pretty weighty. Would the clear tape be stronger than the kraft paper?
        Thanks again for your expertise!

        1. Joe Moorman Avatar

          The weight of the stones could be an issue with the mounting tape, especially if the surfaces are rounded. However, I think it would work well enough provided the handling is minimal. I once had a similar situation and ordered 12″x12″ cardboard squares from Uline as temporary supports for each sheet until I slid them off into the mounting mortar. In fact, I’m fairly sure something like that might be necessary if the stones are large and heavy because neither the tape nor paper are rigid and can fold up and sag in annoying ways. Whether you use mounting tape or mounting paper, you will need to test your method before applying it to the actual project. The test can be as simple as applying one sheet and seeing if the stones hold well enough for the sheet to be moved around.
          I hope this helps!

  4. Maureen Olsen Avatar
    Maureen Olsen

    I hope you can help me. Last summer, I bought an oversized, oval, outdoor glass mosaic table (base is set in concrete and weighing 500 pounds) from a very high end store. The glass tiles are set with a dark brown grout. I used the table once before the Fall set in and used a table cloth so I never had to wipe it down. We had a mild but very wet winter season. I have now gone out to wipe it to get set for this summer. As I wiped (with plain water), the rag was coated in brown and once dried, there is a brown haze all over the glass tiles. I have wiped it several times and the same thing happens each time. Could it be that the manufacturer never sealed the grout in this table top before shipping to me? How can I get rid of this brown haze (there are hundreds of these small glass tiles set in the brown grout on the table top)? And, should I seal this table top myself? Help – it was a very spendy investment!!!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      I would hose the table off well so that it isn’t shedding color and then seal the table with a tile and grout sealer from a building material store. If all the grout is crumbling away, you can scrape it out with a Grout Removal Tool and then re-grout it.

  5. Brenda Ingram Avatar
    Brenda Ingram

    Hi Joe! I’m stumped about choosing a background color for the mosaic family tree I’m making for my dad. My maiden name is Sparrow so I chose birds as family members with blue and purple birds for females and red and brown for males. I’m using dark brown for the branch colors.

    I’ve decided not to include leaves and extra branches because there are already enough colors!

    I never thought about the background when I started this. Lesson #1, I guess. lol. I know your email address is listed somewhere on your site so I will email the picture separately.


    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Brenda,

      Color choices in artwork are like an evolving puzzle: the colors you already have on the board constrain what else you can add. Looking at what you have so far, specifically the birds and branches being rendered in deep intense colors:
      Sparrow Family Tree Mosaic (in progress)
      it is fairly obvious that the background will need to be a light color(s). I think a warm cream not too different from the temporary backer you used for the photo would be best. You can order samples from our website to see what looks best in person.

      I hope this helps!

  6. CJ Avatar

    Hello Joe,
    Thanks for all the great information.
    However I am still confused on something so I do have a question for you.
    I have a little wood garden bridge I would like to mosaic the walking area.
    If I use piece of concrete backer board, over a piece of fir wood board, ( the wood the bridge is made of), then mosaic that backer board…will it be safe outdoors??

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Yes, you could do that. The problem is that concrete backer board has crumbly edges, and so you need to do something to cover the edges. You can plaster them with the same thinset mortar that you use to attach the tile, or you can put a wooden border around the edges.
      I hope this helps,

  7. Cindy Faith Avatar

    May I get your opinion and send you a picture. I grouted in white and want to regroup. Id like your feedback abt color…

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Cindy,

      Yes, please email me a picture. My email address is on the contact page:


  8. Jana Avatar

    Fantastic resource! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Ed Marquand Avatar
    Ed Marquand

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks so much for your posts. I have an outdoor glass mosaic project in a garden that gets lots of rain. Few frosts. Could I mosaic on Corian with epoxy cement and grout? Should last for the ages, right?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      No, it wouldn’t age very well.

  10. Felicity Ball Avatar

    Hi there, Great to have found your site and blog. I am a mosaic artist from Bristol, UK and have been commissioned to mosaic a pizza oven for a local pub. I haven’t done it before, and people are talking about a video you have made which would probably answer all my questions – any chance you could send me the link to it?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Felicity,
      I’ve not made any videos about that, but I am sure there are plenty on Youtube. The brink/stone/masonry ovens that I have seen mosaiced all turned out fine, but if the oven is steel or has major steel components such as doors or door frame, there could be problems with cracking due to differences in thermal expansion rates.

  11. Diane Bonciolini Avatar

    Hi Joe,
    This is a wonderfully informative site that I just discovered today. Wondering if you can help me answer some questions.
    In the past I created a mosaic on the risers of my cement stairs.
    My next project is a glass mosaic to exterior metal stair risers. I expect they can be done but what is the best way to approach them. These risers are removable & I can fabricate them inside my studio.
    -Do you recommend to presand the surface of the metal?
    -does the metal need to be ‘primed’ to avoid rusting?
    – I have read a few different ways to plan for the movement of the mosaic & metal at different temperatures & weather conditions beyond using poly additives. One recommendation is to attach, with screws, a ss metal mesh substrate to the metal risers surface. When this is described it sounds like one would add thin-set to this surface and let it dry that the mosaic would be applied using another layer of thin-set. What is your recomendation?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Diane,

      That is a good method. A wire mesh and thinset mortar coating would make a good backer surface on the metal riser. I would prime the riser before screwing on the mesh. You will probably need 2 coats of mortar to make the surface secure and level.

      I should note that the riser should be primed to keep it from oxidizing, but the mortar probably won’t adhere to the paint as well as desired, and so I would make sure the wire mesh was secured to it with multiple well-placed fasteners.

      Please email us pics of the work in progress and the final results.

      I am sure that people will want to see it.

  12. Diane Bonciolini Avatar

    Thank you so much for your quick response. I still continue to have questions as I prepare for this project. I hope you don’t mind.
    – Is there a brand of sanded thin set you would recommend? I am in a semi mild climate in the PNW.
    – a brand for the primer?
    – do the edges of the metal/mosaic need special finishing, sealing or capping? I do plan on leaving at least a 1/2″ mortared edge before I start the mosaic field.
    – as I am using glass shards many of which are transparent I will use a light colored thin set as the base on the mesh as you explained, let it dry thoroughly, would you recommend using the same thin-set to apply the glass? Would I wet the dry thin-set as I o along?
    that’s enough questions for now! Once I get started which is looking to be a month or so out I will happily share images.

    Thank you again for your expertise.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Here is my page that answers most of your questions about thinset mortar.

      Your other questions involve a little bit of nuance and are best addressed by experimenting with a little bit of thinset. I recommend making a small plaque on a piece of stone or plywood to get a feel for handling the thinset and how it cures before you do the main project. The small plaque doesn’t have to be real piece of art. It can just be a test blank.

  13. kelly krasney Avatar
    kelly krasney

    Hi Joe, Thank you for all the great information and directions you have provided. I have finished a particular art piece but I’m not sure which email address to send it to you. I am NOT an artist so any criticism you can provide in order to improve my work would be greatly appreciated.
    I have a question and despite reading the blogs etc. I can’t find an answer. I am doing an outdoor art piece and will be using the foam-core tile backer board. Can I attach my tiles directly onto the backing board or is some other preparation needed before I begin the art piece? Thank you for your time and expertise.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Kelly,
      You can send it to any of our email addresses. I will see it. Tile backer boards are made to bond to cements, adhesives, and mortars. No surface prep is needed.

  14. yolanda k bergman Avatar

    Thank you so much for including me in your Blog! In means so much to me!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Some blog articles are easy to write because the art is so good.

      Thanks for helping to promote contemporary mosaic as a fine art!

  15. Donna Smith-Harrison Avatar
    Donna Smith-Harrison

    Hi Joe, GREAT BLOG! I have learned so much and am looking forward to moving forward on my project. I am making a mosaic table top to be placed on a vintage bird bath base for a patio. I will be using tesserae from ceramic plates that were broken in an accident. I’ve already used niooers and a tile saw to cut them into useable shapes and have planned out the pattern. I have exterior grade ply wood and Hardibacker for the base. I am planning on using thinset mortar bed and a sanded grout. My concern is the border – the Hardibacker and plywood will be exposed. Do you suggest using Thinset and smaller tiles around the edges? It’s the only part of the project for which I am unsure of how to proceed. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Thanks Donna!
      Tiling on outside rims is extremely vulnerable to impact damage from everyday use, such as people sliding chairs into place. It’s better to find or make some sort of rim or border.

  16. Adriana Avatar

    Hi! First, I would like to thank you for your posts. They are very instructive, objective and enlightening without being tiring.
    Second, I would like to know if you have any post about representing faces in mosaic, especially creating the composition with shadows. If not, I would like to suggest this topic.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Adriana,
      Thanks for letting me know!
      I don’t have an article, but that topic is one that is best learned by looking at a lot of examples. If you search Google for “mosaic portraits,” you should be able to see a range of what is possible, which varies from no treatment of light and shadow to very life-like images.

  17. Debbi Murzyn Avatar
    Debbi Murzyn

    Hi Joe, Thanks so much for the blog article. I just found it today. I really appreciate your comments. I’m away for a month and can’t wait to return home to make more mosaics. Thanks for having such a great company I can always count on.

  18. Rebekah Mizrahi Avatar
    Rebekah Mizrahi

    Mr. Moorman,
    I’m an Orthodox Christian who wants to frame Orthodox Christian icons printed on oaktag (?) with mosaic squares of paper! Do you know of any supplier(s) who make quality mosaic squares (solid and prints) out of paper? Orthodox Christian icon colors only use gold, red, blue, and green colors.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Rebekah,
      Your best option would be to cut your own with one of those guillotine paper cutters. That way you could get exactly the paper you wanted and not be limited to what a niche supplier had chosen.

  19. Angela Morey Avatar
    Angela Morey

    Hi, I have some queries about doing a bird project for the outside of a building for my our community.
    We would like to use acrylic backing and mosaic tiles and thought we could use Sicilicon to seal the tiles in?
    Would this work and would it last outside for a long
    Many thanks Angela

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      If you really want the project to last, you need to use the recommended materials such as thinset mortar and tile backer board. Silicone has a life expectancy of 30 years.

  20. Zoltan Duliskovich Avatar
    Zoltan Duliskovich

    Dear Mr. Moorman,

    I have a mosaic artwork from Zaur Tsuladze (a famous georgian artist, made for example the tructure at the Batumi Dolphinarium). Would you please help me estimate its price? I have already contacted Christie’s, but they could not help. I do not want to sell it, I’m just curious about it. If you reply, I attach pictures of it.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Zoltan, Hungary

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      I don’t have any background in appraising art value, which depends heavily on the artist’s historical significance. A museum or gallery would be best for that type of knowledge.

  21. Antonia Bradford Avatar
    Antonia Bradford

    FINALLY. Your blog has given me the information I have been hunting for weeks.
    I am going to create a mosaic on a brick wall in a garden in the UK. bright tile flowers that will give a splash of colour in a -far too often – grey and miserable winter.
    My question was how should I prepare the wall. Your blog has told me precisely what I need to do. Thank you so much!
    The next thing is going to be how to seal the tiles I have purchased. The only ones that had BRIGHT COLOURS are mexican, but I think that they are soft and porous, so I will have to seal them thoroughly, but that is separate problem. Thanks again.

  22. Barbara Avatar

    How do I sign up for this excellent blog? Thanks!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Barbara,
      I added you to our newsletter email list which sends out a notice when a new article is published. Thanks,

  23. Scott Townsend Avatar

    Morning Joe, I’ve sent through an email on May 2nd, following up here in case this is monitored more frequently.

    We are designing an interior ceremonial firepit that takes the shape of a turtle. The Elders and Indigenous committee have asked for this turtle to be clad in mosaic tile, to give the shimmering effect of ‘wetness’ as it is culturally significant to the design. I’ve been back and forth with the contractor on this item and none of their subtrades wants to tile the object due to warranty concerns and fear of the tile cracking due to the heat.

    We’ve detailed a layer of refractory brick/mortar, that will separate the concrete turtle from the steel liner pan of the ceremonial fire pit. (Reference docs sent in the email). Do you have any concerns or methods you could share in terms of thinset mortar product, sealer, or even what type of mosaic tile would be appropriate for this application? Any insight on the detail would be of great benefit.


    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Scott,

      This is the first I am seeing an email about this project. None of our tiles could be used inside a fire pit. When people mosaic fireplace surrounds, they are only mosaicing the outside of the fireplace and not the inside of the hearth itself.

      1. Scott Townsend Avatar

        Afternoon Joe, thanks for the response.
        Just following up, I re-sent the email/drawings to inspire AT Not sure if they’re going through. To clarify, the tile would not be installed within the hearth, it is on the outside of the hearth shape.

        If possible, please feel free to get in touch at scott.townsend AT

        Thanks again for your time,

      2. Scott Townsend Avatar

        Morning Joe,
        I keep attempting to reply on this forum, but the replies aren’t being posted. Is there a better way to reach you for comment? The mosaicartsupply email address doesn’t seem to be responding either.

  24. Scott Townsend Avatar

    Morning Joe, thanks for the response.
    To clarify, there would be no tile inside the firepit. The fire pit itself is indoors, but the mosaic cladding tiles the firepit ‘surround’. Is there an email address I could maybe send you an image of the design/detail? I will try resending my original mail, originally sent to

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Yes, that is my email address. Please resend the image. The surround in this case is a horizontal surface, and so it will take impacts that a fireplace surround wouldn’t experience.

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