Category: Material and Tool Information
Video of Mosaic Rose Design Process
Natalija has filmed a video of her laying out a rose mosaic inset for her new home, and it’s a good demonstration of cutting and fitting tile and other basic techniques. More importantly, it shows the process of design evolution by trial and error, something that is lacking in most craft videos.
Wood Frames For Mosaics
Artist Tanya Boyd emailed me some photos of her mosaics, and all of them were in wooden frames of different types. It reminded me that I am overdue to write up the ways of sourcing wooden frames for mosaics:used frames from paintings or mirrorsframes made using molding and a miter sawframes made from recycled wood
By the way, I forgot to get the names from Tanya, and so I made up names from my first impression. They are all happy mosaics and very well done.Mosaic by Tanya Boyd that my mind thought of as “I Hears You Wif My Ear Mommy.”
I particularly like the thematically-appropriate frame used for the mosaic I called Mosaic Poet Sunset. If you’re making bohemian art, the frame has to match.
Secret to an Exceptional First Mosaic
I’ve already written about Brad Srebnik’s first mosaic and how impressive it is. It’s also amazing how well Brad documented the process as he was learning it.
Brad emailed me a summary of his methods and the lessons he learn from the project. He has some good photos of some important steps, including making a small study before the main project.
The small study is a huge help when everything about tile mosaic is new to an artist: cutting tile, using thinset, spacing tile, selecting colors, selecting grout color, etc.
The small study lets you get things right. It also lets you work more efficiently on the main project.
Improving your efficiency as a first-time novice can be absolutely critical, especially if your mosaic is highly detailed or large or an architectural covering.
Cutting Glass Mosaic Tile: A Practical Guide
Designs are said to be elegant when they “don’t try to push things uphill” but instead go with the natural flow of materials and forces.
Consider the Roman arch versus a rectangular doorway with a flat lintel on the top. The flat lintel could be constructed from a superior material than that used in the arch, but the arch is likely to be in place centuries or even millennia after the lintel has cracked and fallen.
The arch is intrinsically stronger because all its members are in compression. It’s simply a more elegant design.Practical Glass Tile Cutting (Mosaic 1 inch or less cut by wheel-blade cutting pliers)
A similar concept applies to making art: There are methods that are artificially labor-intensive and problematic, and there are methods that make use of how materials tend to behave on their own.
This is particularly true when cutting molded glass tile with a special pair of pliers known as a Wheel-Blade Mosaic Glass Cutter or Glass Nipper.
Glass-On-Glass Mosaic Grout Color
Artist Laura Adams emailed me for advice on selecting a grout color for her glass-on-glass mosaic, and it is a good case study for several reasons.
First, the sky of the mosaic is a whitish gray.
Second, Laura made sure to photograph the mosaic with two different lighting regimes: backlit from behind and regular lighting from the front.
Given that a glass-on-glass mosaic looks very different when backlit, it wouldn’t be possible to make an informed choice without taking both situations into account.
Knight Park Mosaic Sculpture
Artists Angela Bortone and Natalija Moss have discovered a new way to do huge amounts of extreme physical labor in an unheated loading dock. They call this latest folly the Knight Park Mosaic Sculpture.
I know from past experiences with my own large sculptural projects that Angela and Natalija have doubted their own rationality if not sanity many times while working on this.The Agony and the Ecstasy
Why do we as artists gladly do massive amounts of labor in conditions normally experienced only by construction workers and farm laborers?Artist Angela Borton with Sculpture Base Pre Mosaic
By angels led, by demons driven. We are the lucky ones. We experience purpose at all levels in our creative process.
Agonizing Over Mosaic Icons
Artist Sue Hague’s mosaic icons are reproductions of medieval, byzantine, and early Christian icons, and some are mosaic interpretations of icons that were originally paintings. The mosaics Sue produced from these paintings were made with authentic andamento and look as if ancient mosaics were copied tile by tile.
Sue describes herself as a beginner still coming to terms with the learning curve, but I don’t think most artists would be able to do that type of cross-media interpretation while maintaining a particular style, at least not as well as Sue has done.Mosaic Icon of Mary by Sue Hague after 12th century Russian icon. Left image is the mosaic after grouted with a light sandy beige grout. Right image is the mosaic after the grout was painted with an umber to increase color intensity.
Sue wasn’t happy with how the light sandy beige reduced the color intensity of the mosaic, and so she stained the grout with acrylic paint in an umber color. This increased color intensity but left the mosaic darker than Sue desired.
Epoxy Grout vs. Archival Quality Materials
Epoxy grout is preferred for pools because it is more resistant to pool chemicals and staining, but it shouldn’t be used on art object or plaques that might be around for decades or centuries as heirlooms.
Epoxy is a resin of long carbon compounds. Long carbon molecules are prone to breaking overtime because they contain stored chemical energy. They are vulnerable to things like oxygen radicals and UV radiation.
On the other hand, traditional grouts and mortars are made from kiln-fired sand and limestone and clay, which are all basic mineral substances with little stored chemical energy, all materials that last for geologic ages.
Your New Best Friend Mr. Pinchapotamus
Mr. Pinchapotamus is your new best friend. He holds small glass tile while you cut them with a Mosaic Glass Cutter so that your fingertips aren’t near the blades. He can also hold the tile more firmly in place than your fingertips, and so Mr. Pinchapotamus also improves the precision of your cuts.
Out of Site, Out of Mind
I have always transferred my glass tile from the plastic factory bags used for shipment and into glass jars or plastic tubs. I do that for several reasons:
Rigid containers like recycled jars and plastic yogurt containers make it easier to rinse out the glass dust and slivers formed by cutting. Torn plastic bags drip water and don’t dry easily.
Glass jars and open-top tubs also make it easier to see the true color of the tiles, which is difficult when viewed through scratched and dirty plastic.
Cleaved-Tile As Smalti Alternative
If you like the cut-face look of smalti but don’t like the price, remember that you can cut recycled glass tiles in half and mount them on edge to get the same look and feel as smalti.
Since your “halves” of tile won’t be perfect halves, they will all be slightly different heights when turned on edge. The surface formed by these tiles make can’t help but have an interesting texture.
The slightly uneven surface emphasizes the tiles as individual pieces, and the mosaic “effect” of the image is enhanced:
Broken Millefiori Mosaic Coaster
I made a mosaic bouquet coaster using our Broken Millefiori and Morjo 12mm Recycled Glass Tile. I used clear contact paper to lay out my design so that I could improvise without a pattern and make revisions as desired BEFORE glue is involved.
I wrapped the contact paper around the backer temporarily so that the design I laid out would be the exact same size as the backer.
I could have just traced the outline of the coaster on a piece of paper and taped the contact paper over the square outline.
Either way, the sticky side of the clear contact paper has to be showing because that is what is going to provide the little bit of stickiness required to keep the tiles from sliding around.How Clear Contact Paper Is Used To Lay Up A Mosaic Design. Option 2 is probably more effort than required. If you don’t have a pattern drawn on your backer, all Option 2 does is make sure the mosaic is the same size as the backer.