I have admired stained glass ever since I was a little girl when my grandmother took me to a local church with beautiful glass murals. Since then, I’ve had a fascination with mosaics, glass, and tile. Although I haven’t yet graduated to creating stained glass, I have taught myself how to mosaic with glass and tile. If you’re learning for the first time, it’s important to start with a smaller project, just to get your hands wet. I started with a broken mirror and a simple clay pot. It was a good way to get the hang of it before moving on to bigger and better things. Below are a few hints to get you started!

1. Choose your project. Tiling a clay pot, a simple glass vase, a small piece of wood are a few ideas to get you started. You don’t want to begin with something huge, because as time goes on, you will improve and your project will not have consistency. Creating a mosaic takes many hours! Start small.

2. Get inspired! Check out art museums, fabric stores, magazines, or take a walk.

Inspiration

Inspiration

You might come up with an idea just by paying attention. A few good books to start if you’re stuck are here and here.

3. Choose your medium. When creating a mosaic, you can use many different things. Ceramic tile is easy to work with and is readily available. Glass and mirror make pretty pieces. Cut vitreous glass will get you started quickly, but you’ll end up paying more than if you cut it yourself. You can also work with broken dishes, pottery, or stones and pebbles. My long-term goal is to create a pebble mosaic, but I’m still

Hard as Nails, middle left; tile scorer, top left; tile nippers and breaker, middle right

Hard as Nails, middle left; tile scorer, top left; tile nippers and breaker, middle right

waiting for some rich estate owner to commission me.

4. Get the right tools. To create a mosaic, you need these things: glass cutter, tile nippers, adhesive, grout or cement, and safety goggles. You also might want a decent pair of working gloves. I think there are small wet saws that you can buy for cutting glass, but I have yet to find one. Anyone know of anything here?

5. Get started! Draw out your design, including what pieces you want where. This might change as you go along, but that’s okay-that’s what art does! When you are ready, begin glueing your pieces down. It is good to start with the focal point first, so you can get just the right pieces to fit the way you want them to. Grouting is the last step, when the glue has set for at least 24 hours. After you finish grouting, I would recommend sealing your grout with a sealer to protect your creation for years to come!

My table in progress

My table in progress

If anyone has any projects, I’d love to see your pictures! Feel free to send them to me at rachaelbecker@gmail.com. I may even put them up here!
8/30/09 Update: My table is finished! Check out what my husband said about it here. I love how it turned out-not exactly perfect, but that’s the nature of mosaics. It looks even better in person-come on over and have some drinks with us on our new patio table!