Category: Step by Step Instructions
Mosaic Mural on Tile Backer Board
Artists Patricia Cream and Leah Mitchell recently completed an outdoor mosaic mural mounted on foam-core tile backer board, and they took excellent photos of the work in progress.
Each major step in the process is shown, including the french-cleat hanging brackets used to mount the mosaic to the cinder-block wall.
The mosaic mural is also impressive. Patricia and Leah really capture the energy of a mixed wildflower garden with all the different textures and shapes and colors.
Making Mosaic Letters from Beads
Glass Seed Beads in the 3.7mm size can be strung on short pieces of wire to make letters, numerals, and symbols in mosaic artwork.Step #1. Find Wire
Any variety of metal wire can be used, but copper taken from stranded electrical wire is the easiest to find and use:
Drainage Concerns for Garden Mosaics
Artist Sandra Christie of Married Metals emailed me some questions about an outdoor mosaic she wanted to make for her garden area in Connecticut.
The mosaic will be on a 50-square-foot slab of concrete that will be poured to make a short walkway into a fenced garden area.
Sandra’s initial questions didn’t emphasize drainage in particular other than to say it would be exposed to a fair amount of water, but I am so glad my initial response was mostly about drainage.Artist Sandra Christie’s Garden Area with Deer Fence.
I’m also Sandra didn’t understand what I meant at first because it caused an important exchange. There turned out to be some significant details to work out that I didn’t consider until Sandra emailed me back with some pictures.
Grid Mosaic Teaching Tool
My 13-year-old son made some mosaics on our 4-inch bamboo coasters with me. His designs are also figurative and iconic, but unlike the mosaics I have been making, his designs use whole uncut tiles.
My son’s designs are all Minecraft-inspired images, and so the blocky nature of uncut square 8-mm tiles was perfect:Minecraft-Inspired Mosaics by my Son
He challenged me to design some of my own mosaics using whole uncut tiles, and so I did.
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.
Marble Mosaic Restoration Project
At the end of 2019 Mosaic Art Supply was e-mailed by a local homeowner about repairing a stone mosaic that was being displayed outdoors.
The design of the mosaic is a smaller-scale interpretation of the “Tree of Life” mosaic found in the bath of Hisham’s Palace in eastern Palestine. The palace dates to the 700s and today is considered one of the most important examples of Islamic architecture in Palestine. This particular mosaic was most likely made in the 1990’s.Initial Conditions
Natalija Moss writes up the process she and Angela Bortone performed to restore the mosaic:
The mosaic measures approximately 4 feet by 4 feet. It was suffering from water damage. The backer was disintegrating, tiles were popping off, and the surface of the mosaic was beginning to warp and wrinkle. The steel frame around the mosaic was thoroughly rusted, with holes in some places. The edge of the mosaic was stained with rust in several places.Detail of initial conditions before restoration work. There are stains along the edge of the mosaic and multiple spots where tiles are missing. The photos don’t show it well, but the center of the tree was becoming as wavy as the backer deteriorated beneath it.
I felt like the mosaic was repairable, but I would need some help. I contacted local muralist Angela Bortone, who used to work at Mosaic Art Supply, and together we decided we would tackle the restoration.
Color Constraints and Background Colors
Many artists like to choose background colors after the central figures have been tiled.
It is best to tile from the middle and work toward the edges to avoid awkward spacing between at key focal points, but you should not leave the color choices for the background as a complete afterthought.
Nor should you have firm color requirement for the background and tile the central figures without placing that color next to them just to see if they work.
Avoid “painting yourself into a corner” by doing a lot of cutting and mounting without thinking ahead.
“Thinking ahead” can be as simple as placing a single tile next to what you are tiling now to see if it has adequate contrast.
Changing Grout Color With Paint
The following method is only recommended for dry indoor mosaics. Artist Megan Adams recently used it to save a mosaic that had been compromised by white grout, which makes tile colors look less intense and the mosaic as a whole “bleached out” in appearance.
We put white grout in bathrooms because it is used as an indicator of cleanliness. It’s use in mosaic art is limited to making your project look like a summer camp project. Avoid it. Consider black or dark gray grout instead to make your colors look intense.
Also keep in mind that traditional sanded grout is lighter in color when it hardens, and so sometimes a light gray or light brown grout can turn out looking like an off-white and cause the same problem as if you had used white grout.
Making Foam-Core Mosaic Backers For Outdoor Projects
Artist Jill Gatwood uses the following method to make water-resistant foam-core mosaic backers for exterior mosaics, such as the Pet Memorial Name Plaques she does for clients who need something that is lighter weight and easier to ship than stone or solid concrete. The method wraps the foam in three or four successive layers of fiberglass mesh and thinset mortar, and that coating is pretty tough, tougher than stone. (The combination of polymer-modified cement and fiberglass can withstand blows that would easily crack granite of the same thickness.)
Mosaics on Steel Mailbox Using Silicone Adhesive
Artist Jill Gatwood has emailed me her procedure for using GE Silicone II to mount mosaic tile to steel mailboxes, and it is outlined below.
Jill’s instructions have convinced me that there are enough mosaic applications for silicone adhesive that we should sell it. Note that we still recommend thinset mortar or Weldbond for mosaics on architectural surfaces such as backsplashes, but for projects such as mosaic mailboxes or glass-on-glass mosaics, silicone adhesive is preferred.
Jill’s steel mailbox instructions are fairly complete and include recommendations for purchasing the right type of mailbox for the project and modifying it as needed.Steel Mailbox Instructions 1. Selecting The Mailbox
Jill says that a steel mailbox from the big box home improvement stores or a hardware store will work but you have to check it and make sure the metal is strong and doesn’t flex. (In practical terms, this means you should buy the mid-grade or premium model and not the one made for the bottom of the market.)
Jill recommends getting one that has ribs to strengthen the frame if you need an XL size mailbox.
How To Pry Up Tiles To Modify A Mosaic
I have often used a small screwdriver to pry up tiles when I wanted to change some detail in a mosaic, but in all of those cases, the mosaic had a grout gap, and it was possible to knock an individual tile out or shatter it without damaging its neighbors, at least most of the time.
But what if you can’t afford to damage surrounding tiles or you have a mosaic with no grout gap? Is it even possible to get tiles up? The answer is yes, and the method involves a wet cotton swab, a dental pick, and a sharpened chopstick.
How to Cut Diagonal Triangles from Vitreous Glass Tile
Many people report having trouble cutting vitreous glass mosaic tile reliably because of the embossed patterns on the back sides, which can interfere with the blades of the mosaic glass cutter, but if you take simple steps to minimize interference and rotation, it can be done.
What I mean by interference is when the blade slips down into a valley between two ridges instead of staying positioned in the desired line of the cut.