Vitreous glass tile has a lot fewer surface pits than it did a few decades ago, but it still has some, at least in most brands. Grout can sometimes lodge in these superficial pits if you don’t adequately sponge and haze the mosaic after grouting, and many novices find this problem particularly distressing.
The good news is that the problem can be fixed easily, and it can be avoided for the most part by correctly sponging and hazing the mosaic during the grouting process.
Avoiding The Problem
You do NOT need to find vitreous without pits to avoid the problem of pit staining.
Keep in mind that the same vitreous tile is used as an architectural covering for thousands of square feet at a time, and so common sense tells you that there has to be a way to get grout out of pits without a large amount of labor.
I feel the need to stress that point because I receive emails from beginning mosaic artists who are desperately searching for vitreous glass tile that is perfectly smooth without the occasional pit: You do NOT need to find perfectly smooth tile.
Artist Morgan Halford recently emailed us some pictures of some mosaic Christmas-tree ornaments she made with the spherical bases we sell, and I wanted to show them off for two reasons. First, the tiling is tightly executed in terms of grout gap and pattern, and the designs she used are interesting and eye catching.
Adam and his sister Teneisha of Toni Craft made a video of their micro-mosaic jewelry project using deep-bezel jewelry findings and stained glass, which we also sell as assortments called Mosaic Art Glass, because the colors were selected to be fairly opaque when mounted on an opaque surface.
Stained Glass or Recycled Glass Tile?
Instead of stained glass, I prefer to cut small pieces from recycled glass mosaic tile, which cuts much more cleanly with less waste because it is made by fusing glass powder, which results in a more homogeneous composition. Swirled stained glass might generate more waste and odd sharp slivers because it breaks along the veins of the swirls, but there are reasons to use it in spite of the scrap. For starters, stained glass is more sparkling than recycled glass tile because it is semi-translucent AND it has interesting variegated colors. Besides, for micro-mosaics, you only need a tiny amount of material, and so waste isn’t a problem, especially if you save it for glass fusing. Continue reading
Putting a mosaic on a metal mailbox is problematic because either the metal is painted and you risk the mosaic not adhering well, or because the the metal is bare, and then the thinset mortar is likely to oxidize (rust) the metal over the years.
Note: My neighbor put a pique assiette mosaic on her galvanized steel mailbox, and it has lasted for years with no obvious signs of rusting. It can be done.
Fortunately, there is an alternative that makes more sense for mosaic, and that is to build a column of field stones or bricks or cinder blocks and then plaster over that with mortar and put the mosaic on the smoothed surface. In this design, the mailbox can be mounted on top of the column or built into a niche in the column near the top.
Artist Linda Robertson recently emailed me some pictures of her mosaic mailbox, and it is a good example of an alternative mosaic mailbox that avoids putting the mosaic on the metal itself. Continue reading
Outdoor mosaics must be made on concrete or stone or masonry, but that doesn’t mean you have to pour a concrete slab or do some other form of heavy construction.
Flagstones (flat paving stones) and concrete stepping stones are readily available at building material stores and lawn and garden centers. The flagstones are great if you want a natural irregular shapes, and the molded stepping stones are great for square and rectangular shapes.
Of course, thinset mortar must be used to attach the tiles, but that isn’t difficult to do, especially if you lay your mosaic up in advance on mosaic mounting tape or mounting paper.
If that seems complicated, it isn’t. I wrote some instructions for using packing tape and contact paper to lay up a mosaic design.
The last section of this article explains why you shouldn’t use plywood, Hardibacker, or (sometimes) even concrete backer board. Continue reading
Artist Frederic Lecut’s “Pan’s Head” mosaic has a style that matches its theme, and it is a great example of using classical elements in a contemporary mosaic.
The face of the “goat-footed god of Attica” or Pan is the subject of Lecut’s mosaic, and consequently the artist incorporates several aspects of ancient Greek mosaic in his design. Continue reading