Tag Archives: design considerations

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

Madre de Guadalupe Contemporary Mosaic

Strong Color Contrast in Heazlewood Mosaics

Artist Megan Heazlewood makes strong use of contrasting colors in her iconic mosaics, and I think her work is inspiring for that reason.

Egyptian Musicians

Egyptian Musicians Contemporary Mosaic

Egyptian Musicians Contemporary Mosaic by Artist Megan Heazlewood

There are several contrasting color pairs in Megan’s mosaic of ancient Egyptian musicians: the teal and pink of the lotus flowers, the blue and gold, the white robes and the different skin tones, the blues and greens versus the burnt orange.

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The Power Of Black in Mosaic Design

I have written many times about black grout and why I recommend it for making tile colors look more intense, but I don’t think I have ever taken the time to talk about using black tile for the same reason.

Artist Carol Jasin recently emailed me some photos of her work, and she makes great use of black tile to make a her mosaics look more colorful and more substantial. Continue reading

Sunset Mosaic Landscape by Apryl Howard.

Everything I Told You About Mosaic Art Is Wrong

Artist Apryl Howard sent me some pictures of her recent Arizona Sunset Mosaic, and it is the exception to several “rules” I have recommended over the years. It is also a great silhouette landscape that captures the color of light and is worth seeing merely for inspiration and ideas for your own artwork. Continue reading

Mosaic Sign by Ann Mitchell

The Importance of Contrast: Mosaic Sign Case Study

Contrast is critical for creating images that catch the eye and text that is readable.

A mosaic sign recently completed by Ann Mitchell is a great example of the importance of contrast and the rewards of looking at your work in an objective way and reworking problem areas. Continue reading

Tree Mosaic Art Robert Friedlander

Making Detailed Mosaic Images Using Whole Uncut Tile

To make detailed mosaic images using whole uncut tile, you need to use a tiny brand, such as the 8mm Recycled Glass Mosaic Tile by Morjo that we sell. You also need to make sure the image is large enough to accommodate the level of detail.

The Tree Mosaic recently completed by artist Robert Friedlander is good example of the relationships between the size of the tile, the size of the details to be rendered, and the size of the image as a whole.

It made me very happy when Robert told me that the mosaic was made with our new Morjo brand., but I was even more excited by how successful the project was in terms of contrast and visual impact and it being a good teaching example of how to use rows of whole tile without a rigid grid. Continue reading

Mosaic Swirled Andamento Full v2

Creating Motion Using Curved Andamento

Artists can create a sense of motion in their mosaics by using concentric curved rows of tile, especially in the background around figures.

To me this use of andamento* is one of the most interesting aspects of mosaic, and it is an easy way for novices to make art that really engages the eye. I used this technique in the first mosaic I ever made, and when I used a photo of that mosaic to make our logo, I blacked out the figure of the fire bird to emphasize how much of the sense of motion was creation was created by the andamento in the background.

*The Joy of Shards mosaic website defines andamento as the visual flow and direction within a mosaic produced by the placement of rows of tesserae (pieces of tile).

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Sun Moon Mosaic by artist Lynn Sposito

Consistent Grout Gaps

In my recent blog article about black and white grout, I wrote the following tip for minimizing the width of grout gaps and working a little faster at the same time:

If tiles only touch at points but not along the length of their sides, then tiles can be positioned very closely and yet still be grouted. Consider working in this way instead of carefully cutting each tile to maintain a uniform grout gap.

I need to clarify what I meant by that.

Uniform Versus Consistent

Sometimes novice mosaicists will carefully cut each tile to maintain a perfectly uniform gap, which can be a little tedious, and worse yet, they make the gap a little wider than it should be because the artist does not have the experience to visualize what it will look like when grouted.

I think it is better to work a little less uniform, and to err on the side of being slightly narrow, even if that means tiles occasionally touch at a point or corner. By better, I mean more efficient, less tedious, and better looking.

All that being said, it is extremely important that the mosaic have the same type of grout gap in all regions. You want to be consistent in your style of gap. You do not want to have loosely executed in one place and tightly uniform in another, nor do you want wide gaps in one region and narrow gaps in another. Continue reading

Artist Marie Powell's "Sun Compass" mosaic table top

Increase Visual Interest by Using Variegated Colors

You can increase visual interest in your mosaic by using variegated colors (multiple colors in patches or streaks) instead of monochromatic fields of only one color. This technique is particularly effective if your design is relatively simple and made from outlined areas of color like a coloring book or cartoon. Continue reading