the 9th Art: Mosaics

64 Arts

To decorate the floor with small chips of emerald or other stones.

Why don’t we leave the emeralds out of it for a while, okay?

Any picture created from bits of glass, beads, tiles or broken stuff held together by some sticky medium can be called, at least in my opinion, a mosaic. Granted, the original mosaics, at least those that first come to my mind, were made of very small tiles and incredibly intricate.

Being a Latin nerd for 4 years means I’m a little familiar with the tiled floors of Roman ruins and, the summer after my Freshman year I made a valiant (if somewhat pitiful) attempt at my own version of the traditional Cave Canem (beware of dog) entrance mosaic. At least I think it said Cave Canem but I distinctly remember putting the evil eye (as a ward against it) in the center. Probably because it was easier.

Come to think of it, this could be why I didn’t even place in mosaics that year (it was for Nation Latin Convention–yes, I was that much of a nerd). But I got 1st in my division for jewelry, so it’s all good.

It might also have been my workmanship. You know, today I’d consider it pretty diy of me to take basic 1″ bathroom tiles and paint them the colors I needed rather than spending a fortune on special tiles and tools. And since we’re not competing or being judged, I think I still will.

Because this is no-holds-barred anything goes mosaic we’re talking about now, in the real world, not trying to be like the old guys in sheets.

If you want to play along with me, here’s what you’ll need to make your own mosaics:

A Base

Could be wood, metal, glass or something you’ve molded yourself out of plaster. Cardboard might be a little too weak to support tiles, glass or heavy beads but for small pieces with tiny elements, you can always try. Go for something sturdy, though: no sense in wasting effort only to have your foundation let you down.

Pieces of Stuff

Very technical term, yes? But this could be anything, which is why it’s a little vague. Yes, tiles are traditional, as are glass beads like you find in the floral aisles for putting in vases or on tables. Also consider pieces of broken china and pottery, sea glass, buttons, beads, bits of metal or molding and just about anything else you can think to use. Seriously, branch out and try some new stuff.


I put this third because it depends heavily on what you chose for your base and your stuff. In the specified area of your local craft store you’ll probably find something called mosaic adhesive. Sure, this will work great sticking tiles onto plaster or glass, but it might not work if you’re using a more eclectic mix of bits in your piece. Your adhesive could be anything from standard Tacky Glue or something stronger like E6000. If you’re really not sure what to use, head over to, pick your materials and use their suggestions when you get to the adhesives aisle.


A little less subjective, grout can be found in the craft store in small packages or at the hardware store in bulk. You might find it powdered or pre-mixed and you can find it in different colors or buy tints specifically for it. White is nice and all-purpose, black a little edgy but great for decor and, of course, colors for creativity.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Newspaper or drop clothes to protect your work surface, a container and dowel or other stirrer for mixing grout, a trowel or spatula for spreading the grout, gloves to protect your hands from chemicals or sticky stuff, and a sponge to wipe away the extra grout at the end.

Of course, you can also find all of these things in a handy kit, too, depending on the sort of project you want to start with.

So, gather your supplies and let’s make something fun this week, okay?

3 thoughts on “the 9th Art: Mosaics

  1. I love a mosiac. I’ve seen some really pretty mosiac pieces at Marshall’s, not homemade, of course, but they are beautiful.

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