Garden Retaining Wall

Mosaic Mural Surface Preparation

The best way to mount an outdoor mosaic mural is to use thinset mortar and mount it directly to a brick, stone, or concrete wall.

You can make mosaic murals on foam-core backer board and mount these backers onto wooden fences with screws, but that is less than ideal for several reasons, and the weight could cause the fence to lean if its posts aren’t securely anchored. That is why we recommend mounting mosaics directly on masonry surfaces (brick, stone, or concrete).

Masonry surfaces need to be cleaned and possibly smoothed before the mosaic is mounted, but that isn’t too difficult, and it is well worth doing if you want the mosaic to last any time at all. Continue reading

Mosaic Hummingbird

Repeating Motifs and Abstract Mosaics

Repeating simple designs or motifs is an effective way to make iconic compositions that catch the eye, and you can take this technique to its extreme to produce abstract art where the pattern itself becomes the subject of the art and not just a tool for rendering figures.

Karla Conmy’s River Meanders mosaic is a good example of repeating motifs taken to the level of abstraction, and Sally Scardino’s Hummingbird mosaic is a good example of using a repeated motif to make a figurative composition stronger. Continue reading

civil-rights-mural-in-progress

Civil Rights Mural Created At MAS Warehouse

Mosaic Art Supply tries to hire only professional artists from a working-class background, which means people who pursued their art because they were passionate about it and not merely because they had inherited some form of income. This means our workers have various  skills and intellectual interests that inform their artwork and make them better employees all around, especially when it comes to advising customers on how to make their art safer or more durable or more interesting.

Living Melody Collective

Living Melody Collective five female artists raising awareness in Atlanta.

One of our amazing employees Angela Bortone has created a multimedia mural for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Angela did this work as part of the Living Melody Art Collective, who are five female artists working in Atlanta to raise awareness of social issues through performance and visual art. I am proud to say that the work of creating the mural was done at the Mosaic Art Supply warehouse. Continue reading

micromosaic-adam-before-grout-close

Micro-Mosaic Jewelry

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

Mosaic St. Michael the Archangel

Mosaic Saints, Angels, and Icons

Historically, mosaic icons were made with traditional materials like smalti, marble, and gold leaf glass. Those traditional mosaic materials might be preferred if you are trying to make a reproduction that looks historically accurate, but they are more expensive and more difficult to work with.

Do You Need Smalti?

If you have any latitude in choosing your materials, remember that it is possible to make striking and realistic images using ordinary vitreous glass mosaic tile, which is both affordable and easy to work with.

Vitreous is the same thickness as the gold leaf glass we sell, and so you could still incorporate gold in your icon if you decided to nix the smalti and stone. In fact, it would be easier to use our gold leaf glass with vitreous than with the thicker smalti and stone.

Continue reading

Mosaic Street Number Plaque

Mosaic Letters and Numerals

You can make mosaic street numbers and signs using a grid, but mosaics made from irregular shapes of non-gridded tesserae are more interesting, especially if you use concentric andamento for the background surrounding the figures.

Sara Sommers emailed us some pictures of her mosaic street number plaque, and it is made from cut pieces of tile in strongly contrasting colors. It is definitely worth checking out if you are thinking of making a piece with large mosaic letters or numerals.

Contrasting Colors

For starters, Sara uses strong color contrast between her numerals and background, which is critical for making eye-catching art. She also uses multiple related colors and variegated patterns instead of solid monochromatic color fields. Continue reading

Mosaic Fish by Debbie Watson

Beginner Mosaic Artwork

Mosaic is a great medium for beginners because it is accessible for people who don’t have much confidence in their ability to draw. Images can be rendered merely by arranging tile by trial and error until you like what you see.

Of course it helps to have a simple outline or pattern of the image you want to create, but you can easily create mosaic patterns without drawing, and you can easily transfer the pattern by tracing. You can also enlarge a pattern using only a ruler and pencil to draw grids.

Artist Debbie Watson emailed me some photos of her work and described herself as a newbie, saying that she has only been doing mosaic “since about February,” but it is fair to say that she has spent some time looking at mosaic art and thinking about what she would like to make.

Debbie’s mosaics have interesting elements and personality in spite of being relatively simple designs, and that is no small thing. Continue reading

Mosaic Street Number

Mosaic Street Number

Natalija decided to test some materials and methods by putting our street number on the loading dock of the warehouse. Her method was to lay 3/4-inch vitreous tile in a mounting grid, but she put them in upside down and laid a sheet of fiberglass mesh on them and used one drop of silicone adhesive on each tile to attach the mesh. My method would be to lay the tiles in the grid right side up and pick up the design with mosaic mounting tape. Continue reading

Second Layer of Mesh

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.) Continue reading

jingo-pet-name-mosaic

Pet Memorial Name Plaques

For people wanting to make a portrait of their furry friend, I wrote an article on pet memorial mosaics using April Costigan’s work as illustrations of what is possible in terms of capturing likeness. The problem is that for many people, the task of rendering a realistic portrait of their pet is beyond their current skill level.

Fortunately, it is possible to make a pet memorial mosaic without the pet’s portrait and still make it personalized and specific to that pet. For example, instead of attempting an image of your pet, consider spelling their name in mosaic and making the surrounding area significant in terms of colors and found objects. More on that later.

Artist Jill Gatwood emailed us some pictures of some pet memorial name plaques that she has made, and they are good examples of the visual interest that can be created in the background with patterns of contrasting colors. I wanted to show these off because I think people who aren’t confident in their ability to draw will be inspired to make their own versions. Continue reading