Artists can create a sense of motion in their mosaics by using concentric curved rows of tile, especially in the background around figures.
To me this use of andamento* is one of the most interesting aspects of mosaic, and it is an easy way for novices to make art that really engages the eye. I used this technique in the first mosaic I ever made, and when I used a photo of that mosaic to make our logo, I blacked out the figure of the fire bird to emphasize how much of the sense of motion was creation was created by the andamento in the background.
*The Joy of Shards mosaic website defines andamento as the visual flow and direction within a mosaic produced by the placement of rows of tesserae (pieces of tile).
Mosaicists sometimes mix in artist acrylic paint to create custom colors from white grout, but you can also use acrylic paint to “stain” grout after it has hardened (for dry indoor mosaics).
Like the process of staining wood, “staining” grout with paint is a process of wiping on and wiping off. The paint sticks to the rough grout but wipes off the glass tile. Continue reading
In my recent blog article about black and white grout, I wrote the following tip for minimizing the width of grout gaps and working a little faster at the same time:
If tiles only touch at points but not along the length of their sides, then tiles can be positioned very closely and yet still be grouted. Consider working in this way instead of carefully cutting each tile to maintain a uniform grout gap.
I need to clarify what I meant by that.
Uniform Versus Consistent
Sometimes novice mosaicists will carefully cut each tile to maintain a perfectly uniform gap, which can be a little tedious, and worse yet, they make the gap a little wider than it should be because the artist does not have the experience to visualize what it will look like when grouted.
I think it is better to work a little less uniform, and to err on the side of being slightly narrow, even if that means tiles occasionally touch at a point or corner. By better, I mean more efficient, less tedious, and better looking.
All that being said, it is extremely important that the mosaic have the same type of grout gap in all regions. You want to be consistent in your style of gap. You do not want to have loosely executed in one place and tightly uniform in another, nor do you want wide gaps in one region and narrow gaps in another. Continue reading
You can increase visual interest in your mosaic by using variegated colors (multiple colors in patches or streaks) instead of monochromatic fields of only one color. This technique is particularly effective if your design is relatively simple and made from outlined areas of color like a coloring book or cartoon. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
Artist Sherri Grasmuck created a mosaic facade of Guatemalan women on her house in Philadelphia that is the perfect case study for choosing a grout color. Continue reading
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