A Brief Introduction to Glass Mosaic Art

By Donovan Gauvreau in Research > Art Movements

Glass mosaic art has been practiced for thousands of years, going back to Ancient Egypt, where it was initially used in palaces and tombs. The Egyptians were the first to discover the versatility of glass, later learning to use it not only to decorate their jewelry, but also to adorn their ships. In time, glass mosaic art became a flourishing industry; it spanned the centuries and is still widely practiced today.

Creating glass mosaic art is easier than it appears to be. A few supplies are needed: glass of various colors, a design or pattern, glass cutter, hammer, pliers, safety goggles, tile snips, clear silicone glue, and tile grout or cement. These items are easy to find, and the whole assortment will probably cost you less than $50.

Designs: You can free-hand your own patterns, purchase them from hobby stores, or download them for free on many websites. Concepts for patterns are limitless, from geometric and floral designs to abstract art.

Glass: While many specialty stores and websites sell glass for mosaics, it is not necessary to buy new glass or specific glass. All forms of glass are useful, including the old glass dishes in your cupboard or those found in thrift stores or yard sales.

Tools: Although different types of glass cutters are available in specialty stores, this tool, as well as the other supplies, can be purchased from a hardware store.

Simple Project: A kitchen backsplash!

There are many simple, glass mosaic project ideas for beginners. A popular one is the kitchen backsplash, an easy and inexpensive project that will personalize your kitchen and give it a modern look. It will also showcase your talent!

The first step is to take the exact measurements of the backsplash area to cover. Then, buy backer board and cut it according to the measurements, taking note of the electrical outlets. Check to ensure that your backer board fits precisely into the area before gluing the glass to it, as it will be adhered to the wall when it is finished.

To accurately cut the glass into the desired shapes, an oil glass cutter and metal ruler are the favored tools to ensure precision. You may want to practice by cutting old plates before starting on your glass mosaic art piece.

When all your glass pieces are ready, lay the pre-cut backer board on the floor and arrange them on the board, according to your pattern. Do not forget to leave space between each piece for the grout. Once all the pieces are in place, begin gluing each one to the board. Apply enough glue to cover the entire back of the piece, but not so much that it comes out the sides when you press down on the glass. When the task is done, leave your glass mosaic art to dry for 24 hours.

Now you can spread the grout over it, allowing it to set for about 10 minutes before removing the excess off with a cloth. Allow the grout to dry thoroughly before applying the finished piece directly to the wall. Sit back and admire your glass mosaic art!

Next Project: A table top!

Another easy glass mosaic art project is a table top; whether it is displayed indoors or outdoors, it will surely become the main topic of conversation. The method is similar to that of the kitchen back splash, except that the top of the table is used as the backer board. Choose any table you wish to embellish, clean its surface well, and glue the glass pieces directly to the top. Thereafter, follow the instructions given for the backsplash.

Glass mosaic art can be created on various distinct surfaces: wood, cement, tile, plaster, linoleum, pottery, and even glass. Common projects include tabletops, ornate sidewalks, vases, and a variety of wall décor. A glass mosaic project is an artistic creation and, like all other forms, should be the product of the artist’s imagination.

As simple as the process may be, wear safety goggles at all times when working with glass, cutting tools and chemicals. Furthermore, have a first aid kit handy in case of accidents. Remember the basics of safety and enjoy your hobby!

Donovan Gauvreau is an art historian and art therapy speaker. You can read more of his articles at www.AaronArtPrints.org.


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