how to make a mosaic
- Beginning your mosaic project: terminology and design
- Types of tesserae
- Tips on mosaic materials
- Step-by-step guide to techniques: direct and indirect methods
- Outdoor mosaics: How to site a mosaic in an architectural space
- List of books and references
- Making a mosaic: Health & Safety Advice
Click on Contents chapter headings for further details
2. types of tesserae
Vitreous Glass: These are manufactured glass tiles made to a uniform shape and size. They are made by molten glass being poured into trays and fired. An imprint of grooves is made on their underside for help with adhesion to cement when fixing. They are bought on brown paper sheets of one colour but a mixed bag can also be bought by weight. Price of sheets varies depending on intensity of colour ranging from £3 for a pale blue to £10 for orange, reds and yellows.
Ceramic Tesserae: These are the cheapest range of bought materials and can be glazed or unglazed. The glazed ceramic tiles have the colour painted onto the top of the clay and then fired to a high temperature in a kiln. The unglazed or body glazed version has the coloured mixed into the wet clay so the colour runs them. They vary in size.
Smalti: This is the classic mosaic material. It is opaque glass fired in large slabs in a kiln and then hand cut with a hammer and hardy(chisel) into small cubes. Their irregular finish makes them a wonderful reflector of light and this material is best used working straight into cement. It is produced in Venice and sold by colour and weight.
Gold Smalti: This tile is made with real gold and silver leaf sandwiched between two layers of glass and fired twice in the kiln to embed in the metal.
Mirror: Mirror adds great depth and sparkle to a mosaic. It is cheap as you can generally get it free from your local glass cutting shop by asking for off-cuts. Remember to use mirror glue as this protects the silver on the back of the mirror. This can also be bought from your glass shop.
Stained Glass: Known for its translucent qualities stained glass is also available in opaque form. It comes as large sheets that can be cut into smaller sections with a glasscutter. Then you can use nippers on it. It can provide you with areas of larger tesserae pieces for variety and contrast.
Household Ceramic Tiles & China: The beauty of this is cheapness. You can often pick up end-of-range tiles from tile shops while second hand shops and car boot sales are an excellent source for china. Colours and surfaces are limitless and can add wonderful texture and contrast to your work.