Small Mosaiced Objects: Decorative and Utilitarian

Artist Donna Stern has made some small mosaic sculptures that demonstrate the range of possibilities the medium has beyond murals and coverings for larger surfaces.

Some of Donna’s recent mosaics are utilitarian (switch covers) while others are strictly decorative (mixed-media fish sculptures), but they are all small and very well done.

Of course, it’s easier to work on larger rather than smaller mosaics if your design has a lot of detail, but there are many reasons to consider a series of small mosaics compared to one large mosaic.

Reasons to Go Small

Multiple Chances

Who doesn’t want more than one chance to get things right when learning something new?

Multiple attempts are necessary when there is a learning curve.

Consider Donna’s inspired mixed-media mosaic fish:


It’s part of a series.

In a series, you can do things differently on the next one:


Or you can make variations of a more similar method or material:


Faster Results

Small mosaics allow you to see how the design is turning out faster.

Don’t spend all of your time on one large mosaic only to realize that the composition or color scheme is flawed in some way after you are too far along to change anything.



Larger mosaics are less forgiving in terms of making revisions because there is more material and area involved. Even when a mosaic mural is large, there are still many details throughout it rendered in very small pieces.

Revising a smaller mosaic made from pieces of the same size would be the equivalent of making just one change in that mural, or table top, or whatever larger project you have in mind.

Also, a series of smalls is forgiving even if you screw up the first one beyond what could be fixed. You can learn on the first, master on the second, and then perfect on the third.

Cost of Materials

Smaller mosaics make individual projects possible when the class size is large and budgets are limited.


There are many people (in the general population) who wouldn’t enjoy working with tiny pieces if the projects are too small.


A Caveat

Consider the mosaic outlet covers shown above.

Many novices would prefer or even require a larger backer and larger pieces to make something of this level of precision.

Of course, I mean novices selected from the general population. Consider that if you are planning a mosaic activity for your group.

Working with smaller pieces of tile is more difficult than larger pieces.

Consider the ages and abilities of the participants.

A project in the size range of 8 to 12 inches accommodates more people than something as small as these switch covers.






2 responses to “Small Mosaiced Objects: Decorative and Utilitarian”

  1. Pam Avatar

    Such awesome pieces, thanks for sharing!

  2. Ann McCrea Avatar
    Ann McCrea

    Excellent information. I learned way more in my first small mosaic 10″ sq. than my first large project. Many parts of the large project became tedious. Parts were disappointingly overworked. It came out OK but the small one actually had more obvious structure and color balance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.