Making a Mosaic - some basic guidelines

Anyone can make a mosaic. It's relaxing and enjoyable, and you don't have to be an artist to create something beautiful and durable. The first time you make a mosaic it's best to start simple. You can use your own design, or even easier, you can make up a kit - we have a range to choose from - online or in the shop. This way you can learn the technique and then move on to a larger or more complex mosaic afterwards. 

Think about what you'd like to make; something useful, like a set of coasters, a house number or a splash-back? If you're feeling confident, perhaps a table top? Or, it could be a purely ornamental mosaic to hang on the wall. A mosaic also makes a wonderful and original gift.

 

Will it go indoors or outdoors? This will determine the type of board and adhesive you use. MDF board and PVA glue are commonly used for an indoor mosaic, but you'll need to use marine plywood and a cement-based adhesive if it's going outside (and seal the edges with varnish or grout).

Technique

The easiest design is a simple pattern, using a few colours but you can try something more ambitious, of course. Draw your design on the board and begin by sticking on the tiles, one section at a time (for example, doing a couple of rows across the board). If the tiles are backed with paper, soak them off with warm water. If they are on plastic mesh, just pull them off without soaking. Glue the pieces to the board, leaving a small gap between each, about 1-2mm wide. The glass tiles will probably have a smooth side and a ridged side. Be sure to place them with the smooth side up.

 

Once you have covered the whole board and completed the design, leave it in a safe place until the adhesive is completely dry. 

For anything more elaborate than a simple pattern you may need to cut the mosaic tiles (also known as tessera). For this you'll need a pair of nippers. We have two types; straight-edged nippers which are mainly for cutting ceramic tiles and wheeled nippers, for cutting glass. Before you cut the tiles, make sure your eyes are protected by wearing spectacles or goggles. It helps to cut into a bag or a box so the pieces don't fly everywhere.

Place the teeth of the nippers to overlap the edge of the tile and squeeze them tightly. For a specific shape you can nibble away at the tile to arrive at the shape you need. Try to use the same thickness of tile, especially if you are making something flat to stand glasses or cups on. Remember that a mosaic is meant to be seen from a little distance and the pieces are not meant to be perfectly cut, so embrace the imperfections and the slight haphazardness of it.

When the adhesive is dry you can grout the mosaic. We stock various colours but grey is the most commonly used. Or, you can make your own colour by adding a water-based paint to white grout. When preparing the grout be careful to add very little water at a time so as not to make it too runny. It should be the consistency of cake mixture.

 

Smooth the mixture over the whole mosaic with a palette knife or spatula, making sure to fill all the gaps between the tiles. Wipe off the excess with a sponge or some kitchen towel and leave it for a few minutes before cleaning the mosaic thoroughly with a damp cloth. You can neaten the edges of the board with more grout or some wooden beading. Voila!