Mosaic Tutorial

Mosaics do not emit toxic fumes like oil paint. That’s why after a lifetime of painting, I switched media 15 years ago. I found that with tiles, stained glass and commemorative plates, I can achieve just as much variety with even more chance to play with rhythm, pattern and texture. It is amazing what a mass of custom cut shards can yield.

My technique

  1. My base is the kitchen cabinet that has a depressed square inside a frame.
  2. I glue sheets of white paper within the square.
  3. I then compose by placing tiles. I move them about, clipping them as I go for shape.
  4. When I am ready to glue, I refine the shapes.
  5. Then I use Elmer’s glue to paste the fragments down. Sometimes I use transparent or translucent fragments which must be glued along their edges. If I don’t the glue will bleed and become visible.
  6. I do any painting that needs to accompany the piece.
  7. After painting, I am ready to grout. Only I don’t use grout. It flattens the design and I’d rather retain its depth.I use transparent bath and tub caulk. It’s messy to apply but the result is more to my liking.

And voila! A finished piece of art. I should add that at any stage up to the caulking, I may pry up the pieces and change them as easily as I might revise a brushstroke.

Mosaic is ancient. It is found on early synagogues and churches. It is also used on secular surfaces — on nearly any flat surface. The Catalon artist Gaudi used them on three-dimensional objects such as benches and railings on his creation, Parc Guell in Barcelona.