Archive for December, 2013

getting started : mosaic setup checklist

// December 16th, 2013 // 4 Comments » // Mosaicing guides, Safety, Tools



  • Safety glasses – always wear these when cutting/breaking materials for your mosaic, or when using power tools (it’s much easier to put on a pair of safety glasses than replace an eye!)
  • Dust mask – wear it when mixing dried grout, mortar (cement mix), pigment etc., also when sanding/grinding your substrate or tesserae.
  • Latex gloves – grout and mortar mixes are caustic. Wear latex gloves when grouting to prevent skin irritation.
  • Soft brush, eg; wide paint brush – to sweep dust etc. from your mosaic project. Never sweep away glass shards with your bare hands!


  • Wheeled mosaic cutters – a versatile tool for cutting/shaping tesserae from a variety of mosaic materials.
  • Tile nippers – use for cutting/shaping thicker tiles etc. into tesserae.
  • Tile scorer/breaker – cuts larger ceramic tiles along a straight line.
  • Tweezers (various sizes) – to pickup/move tesserae. Useful for moving a piece without disturbing surrounding tesserae.
  • Craft sticks – for applying adhesive/mastic to back of tesserae, or spreading adhesive directly onto substrate.
  • Assortment of probe type tools (dental picks etc.) for positioning mosaic tesserae. A pottery needle can be used to clean excess adhesive from grout lines, and to unplug glue bottles.
  • Hammer (see Hessian sack) for smashing tiles/plates etc. – always remember to wear protective glasses, and gloves if smashing glass or thin materials which may have sharp edges.
  • Hessian sack (see Hammer). Place tiles/plates etc into sack before smashing, this will prevent pieces flying everywhere.
  • Tools for grouting – rubber float, spatuals, trowel, grooved spreader, and sponges.
  • Newspaper – for cleanup after grouting. Also useful as drop-sheet. Never dispose of grout or cement down the drain!

non-essential tools

  • Hammer & hardie – traditional tool for cutting marble and smalti.
  • Carborundum stone – to smooth rough edges of cut glass.
  • Glass grinder (electric) – to smooth and shape edges of cut glass.
  • Glass cutter – for scoring stained glass; the glass will break along this line using one of the tools listed below.
  • Breaker pliers – for snapping smaller pieces of stained glass along score-line.
  • Grozing pliers – helps to smooth the edge of jagged cuts.
  • Breaker/Grozing pliers – combination with breaking pliers on one jaw & grozing pliers on the opposite jaw.
  • Running pliers – use to snap stained glass along longer, straight or curved score-lines.


what’s goin’ on : general stuff

// December 12th, 2013 // 6 Comments » // Current projects, News


I’ve been keeping busy assisting with my local community mosaic group for a few hours each week… working on my smaller projects at the mosaic group when I can as well as mosaic projects for the group, although most of the time I end up helping out with this or that and putting my almost 8 years experience of making mosaics (and many more years experience with computers & other techie stuff) to good use, answering questions and helping where I can. I enjoy my time there, not only for the interaction with other mosaic artists of various skill levels ranging from beginner to experienced, but also the friendship that the group has been very good at nurturing… so kudos to the mosaic group’s founder, Dianne Little for succeeding in creating a group where people on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) can come to learn how to make mosaics for the community and also create new friendships.

My larger mosaic projects stay in my studio throughout construction, which is much easier than moving them around, and I am gradually setting up and adapting my workspace to accommodate my not entirely unique requirements. That’s not an easy feat, as just the changing variables of my injuries have taken time to learn and understand how to work with, but I am making headway, sometimes by trial & error and sometimes by good research/planning or just using my brain for one of the purposes it was intended… commonsense! I figure that if I can fix mobile phones and computers (which I did for previous jobs), I can do almost anything as long as the physical requirements aren’t beyond my limits!

So there has been plenty to do to set up my studio, and lots of gardening too which I also enjoy, albeit in small doses to keep my pain levels to a minimum. The one thing I can do most of the time, is sit and cut tesserae for future mosaic project, using mosaic glass cutters or tile cutters depending on the material. All in all, the last few months have been an interesting part of my life’s journey, and so it continues…

Currently I have 2 mosaic projects in my studio:
“Night watch” – a pictorial with cats in a tree. I have emphasised the eyes of the cats, to give the impression they are watching something, and also to the stars to convey night time. I’ve had this project packed away between moves, but now have the space to work on it.

The other mosaic is for a wall fountain (no title yet). This project has evolved since the glass background panel was broken both times I have moved since beginning the fountain. I was recently given a small fibreglass pond, which I wasn’t sure if I’d incorporate with the fountain as I had planned to use a half kerosene type drum as the water reservoir. Then, shortly after I began looking for a suitably sized wediboard panel, the husband of a friend from the mosaic group found two panels large enough to incorporate the pond and delivered them to my door… what a surprise that was, and I am so thankful! Not only has it saved me the hassle of getting the material transported from the mainland, it has also allowed me to radically change the background substrate to a torsion box type, double skinned structure (think “hollow core door”) which will be much stronger and will also allow me to hide the plumbing inside the structure.