Mosaic is an art form where different colored pieces of glass, tile, marble, pebbles or any decorative items are stuck together on a surface to create an artistic design. This art is used to decorate sidewalks, floors, photo frames, tabletops, pots, and applications are endless.

History of mosaic art is more than 4000 yrs old. The first form of the art used terra cotta cones to create decorative designs.

By 8th century BC, pebbles of different colors were used to decorate pavements & walls, though the art of unstructured. In 4th century BC, the Greek craftsmen took this art to a different level by creating intricate designs and portraying scenes of people and animals. They cut the natural stone into small triangles, squares and rectangles and called them tesserae.

By 200 A.D., Romans learnt the art and created mosaics on wall & floors using cut glass. They started covering entire walls & ceiling with mosaic art and by 18th century the art was extended to jewelry, picture frames, boxes etc…

Tools & Supply:

Surface: Surface on which a great mosaic art project can be made. Surface such as wood (for indoors), terra cotta, ceramic, glass, acrylic, tile board can be used.

Nippers: Nippers are most  important tool in making mosaic art piece. They are used to cut the tiles or glass into small piece and desired  shape.

Tile & Tesserae: Tesserae are tile & glass pieces, pebbles, shells, broken china, pottery pieces, buttons, or any small decorative item that can be stuck to one of the surfaces mentioned above.

Adhesive & Grout: Type of adhesive to be used depends on the surface & the mosaic material being used. Most widely used are silicone adhesive & white craft glue. Grout is a material used to fill up gaps between the tesserae pieces. It provides strength & durability to the final work of art. Grouts are made of portland cement.  Grout can be colored with liquid or powder colorant. There are 2 types of grouts available –

  • Non-sanded grout is used for mainly indoor projects. It should be used only when the grout lines are not wider than 1/8″. For most household projects once can use non-sanded grount
  • Sanded grout is used for any grout line width.

Primer & sealer: Primer is used to prepare the surface for adhesive & grout whereas sealer is used to protect tile grout from water, dirt, food & discoloration.

Other tools: Small hammer to break the large size of tiles, plates, etc. Tweezer to place small pieces in a pattern. Spongeto wipe away excess grout from the surface. Sandpaper to smooth the edges and stiff bristle brush to remove excess dried grout.

Technique:

Prepare the surface: Ensure that the surface on which you are creating mosaic design is clean. Use sand paper to smothen the surface if required. Seal the surface to protect them from moisture of the grout. When dry, transfer desired pattern on to the surface.

Prepare the tesserae: Using the nipper or small hammer, break the decorative items into desired size.

Glue the tesserae: Spread glue on the surface small section at a time. Place the decorative pieces on the pattern. If required, nip the pieces to fit properly onto the pattern.  Repeat the process till you have covered the pattern on the surface completely.

Grout the pattern: Mix grout & water in a container. Follow the instruction on the grout packet to get correct proportion. Prepare it in small amount as you can’t store the prepared grout for later. In case using a colorant, spread the grout immediately to ensure uniform color throught the mosaic art. Spread the grout uniformly using a rubber spatula in between the decorative pieces. Wipe away excess grout using a damp sponge. Brush away the crumbs of grout before they dry completely using the stiff brush.

Finish the mosaic art:  Sand the edges of the final artwork with sandpaper to smooth it. Seal it with the sealer to protect from dirt, water, etc….

Some external links

  1. http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Mosaics
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbAKehRpn7c

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