It is only recently that stained glass has been used to make mosaics. In place of the dull tones imparted by the previous ceramic and stone medium, mosaics have come to life with the brilliance and wide colour range to be found with stained glass.
Mosaics have come a long way from the primitive 8th century pebble floors found in Ankara Turkey to the uniformly cut tesserae developed by the Romans. It was not until much later that coloured glass was used in place of the dull tones imparted by the ceramic and stone medium.
To-days multitude of colours and brilliance that only glass can impart are at the disposal of the mosaic artist. Recently mosaic work has become an important offshoot from the craft of stained glass.
Leadlights and stained glass artisans originated the development of the wide range of coloured glass now freely available and combined the traditional mosaic construction techniques with stained glass materials.
This has led to the modern methods now used in mosaics. The wide range of colours and textures combined with the ease with which glass can be cut has resulted in works of art with intricate shapes and designs not previously possible.
There are two basic methods for making a mosaic, the direct method and the indirect method. This article will cover the easier and very satisfying direct method.
Preparing the base:
- Cover your work area with newspaper to make clean up easier.
- Transfer the pattern onto the surface of the finished mosaic by placing a sheet of carbon paper on the surface and pacing the pattern above seeing that it is correctly located. Fasten with masking tape to ensure it does not move and transfer the pattern by tracing the lines with a hard pencil.
Applying the glass:
- Cut any glass that has to be cut to a specific shape and size as shown by the pattern.
- Smooth any glass edges that are jagged or have not been cut correctly
- Clean each piece thoroughly and glue into position inside the pattern lines starting with the main elements of the design.
- Fill in the background with the remaining tesserae until areas have been covered.
Applying the grout:
- Instead of using plain water with the grout powder we suggest you mix Aldax #70 Latex 50:50 with water and mix with the grouting cement . This method will yield a stronger more flexible grout that will not powder and fall out as can happen with traditional methods. Add the latex mix to the grout powder a little at a time until it reaches a thick, smooth consistency.
- Using a gloved hand spread grout over the glass surface.
- Work into the crevices until it becomes smooth and level with the glass surface.
Cleaning the glass:
- After the grout has been completely applied and smoothed, wait about 10 minutes for it to slightly harden.
- Dampen a sponge and brush away any excess grout from the surface of the glass.
- Rinse the sponge and repeat several times to ensure the glass surface is completely clean
- Use the sponge to give the surface a final buff so that the glass shines.
- Allow 24 hours for the finished piece to dry thoroughly.
- Place the piece face down on a towel and affix any hangers or other fixings to the back of the finished mosaic.
- Mosaics make wonderful gifts and last forever. Stand back and admire your handiwork!