Black grouts bring out the intensity of tile colors while white grouts overwhelm them. Natalie Knox’s Day of the Dead Skull mosaic is a good example of how well black grouts work and how a light colored backer isn’t a good indicator of the mosaic would look with white grout.
Don’t Be Fooled
If you lay the mosaic out on a white backer and try to use that as an indication of what the mosaic will look like with white grout, remember this:
When the gaps are filled with grout, they won’t have all the contrast provided by empty gaps, which have depth and shadow. A lot of white concrete at the same level as the surface of the glass tends to make the colors look washed out. Continue reading
Inspiring mosaic table tops with abstract geometric patterns were recently created by artist Risa Puno as part of her public art project Common Ground, an interactive sculpture designed to bring people closer together physically.
The concept of Risa’s sculpture plays on the metaphor of multiculturalism as mosaic, but instead of the folk or children’s artwork usually associated with that theme , there are cleaner abstract designs with color choices that ensure that each table has similar levels of intensity and contrast. The result is that the combined “quilt” is balanced and unified visually. Continue reading
Keira Miller recently made a mosaic bench in the shape of the state of California with a class of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. The mosaic bench is made from California redwood and is to be auctioned off as part of a fundraiser to benefit their Montessori school.
Note that we do NOT recommend wood as a backer for outdoor mosaics, but if this mosaic had to be placed outdoors, some of the drier regions of California would be ideal. I think the mosaic would do well on a covered porch, and it would be a great addition to a family room or den. Continue reading
Artist Cherie Bosela has some mixed-media mosaic sculpture that you really should see, especially if you are considering making some of your own. Cherie’s body of work is incredible, and it includes bas relief mosaics (flat panel with raised elements) and figurative sculpture encrusted with glass beads and found objects such as seashells.
I absolutely love her stuff and how well material choices resonate with the subject matter, specifically the use of beads to create insects and flowers. (The ancient Egyptian word(s) for jewelry translates literally as “artificial flowers and animals,” if I remember correctly.) Continue reading
Artist Sherri Grasmuck created a mosaic facade of Guatemalan women on her house in Philadelphia that is the perfect case study for choosing a grout color. Continue reading
Recently, artist Jackye Mills emailed me about a problem she was having with her first mosaic project, and it really caused me a lot of angst because the artwork was a strong design that was otherwise well executed. I hated the thought that a first-time mosaicist could do such a good job on something so ambitious only to lose the project due to a technical issue. Continue reading
Artist Susan Watson created a stained glass and stone mosaic for her studio exterior wall and chose the background color and material using a process of trial and elimination.
Mixed-media mosaic artists often choose backgrounds by laying tile on the pattern or backer after the figures have been tiled, as I explained in my recent article How To Choose Mosaic Background Colors and Patterns.
Black was considered for the background because black makes colors “pop” or seem more intense. Susan decided black was too dark and didn’t look good with the colors where the mosaic would be installed.
Background colors for mosaics should be chosen based on how well they contrast with the colors used in figures. For this reason, most mosaic artists will tile their figures first and then choose their background colors by a trial-and-error process of placing tiles on the mosaic backer and just seeing how they look.
The same approach can be used to decide what pattern of placement (andamento) you should use for the background. You look at what you have in the figures in the foreground and choose a background pattern that is compatible. Continue reading
Artist Jason Oakley made this great pixellated mosaic of Mario and some of the other characters in the Mario games. I like how the gridded pattern of tiles looks exactly like low-resolution pixels such as used in vintage video games.
Mario Gamer Mosaic Art second view by Jason Oakley.
Frederic Lecut’s “Opus Pixellatum” Mosaic Class was a lot of fun, and I think the mosaics were very successful, especially with the improvised tweaking and colorization that students did in phase two of the process. In the photo above, instructor Frederic Lecut kneels in front of the class.
When people are in position at the end of the video, here is who you are looking at from left to right:
- Robbintina Harrison holding her adorable granddaughter’s portrait.
- Joanne Remppel holding her rescue dog’s portrait.
- Kate Carroll holding her friend Martha Barton’s portrait.
- Daniel Adams holding his self portrait.
- Amy Galbavy holding her self portrait.
- Apryl Howard holding her self portrait.
- Daniel Baxley holding his self portrait.
- Stephanie Cosenza holding her son Danny’s portrait.
- Sandra Atherton holding her self portrait.