Teaching yourself mosaics, Part I: Guide to online mosaic courses and tips

Online mosaic tips: free

teaching yourself mosaics
My sorely neglected hammer and hardie. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

There is no point in pussy-footing around so I may as well just spit it out: I don’t know how to use a hammer and hardie. Dear me, what was that? You falling off your chair? I dont blame you. To be a full time, full-on maker of mosaics inspired by the ancients, to be a mosaicist who uses stone and not to know how to use a hammer and hardie is, quite frankly, a disgrace. It’s not something I am proud of but I need to get it out there if I am going to discuss the topic of online mosaic courses.

teaching yourself mosaics
Some of my mosaic books for those teach-yourself moments. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

It’s not that I haven’t been shown how to use a hammer and hardie and it’s not that I don’t have one, I do, but it is gathering dust in the corner of my workspace and I rely on this gorgeous beast – a purpose made stone cutter – in its stead:

teaching yourself mosaics
Stone cutter. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

It’s a bit of a brute to look at and I can’t fling it in the back of the car, but it’s handy none the less and has allowed me to slip into bad habits – for years. However, I have recently taken the bold and exciting move of signing up for a three day master class with Dagmar Freidrich to be held in Edinburgh at the end of August and I need to learn how to use a hammer and hardie fast. And, thankfully for me, help is at hand – teaching yourself mosaics has never been easier thanks to short online videos offering mosaic tips and advice.

Lawrence Payne of Roman Mosaic Workshops, for example, is the go-to man for all things Roman, traditional and hammer and hardie related and is ready and waiting on YouTube, day or night, to teach me all I need to know:

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Lawrence Payne of Roman Mosaic Workshops on Youtube.

There was a time not so very long ago when teaching yourself mosaics wasn’t this easy. An awful lot of mistakes were made and time was wasted as one stumbled one’s way through experimental projects that mostly ended up at the back of the cupboard but now the world of online mosaic courses and  tip providers has changed all that. Lawrence Payne’s calm, even voice is always there at the touch of a button to talk you through an array of troublesome mosaic issues like cutting tesserae using small pincers or to ellucidate you on esoteric aspects of the art such as colours in Roman mosaics.

teaching yourself mosaics
One of many useful short (and free) video tutorials from Roman Mosaic Workshops on Youtube.

Almost any technical aspect of mosaic making is available free of charge on the internet, kindly supplied by experts in the field. You can learn how to make a mosaic trivet step by step, try out the mosaic mesh method or have a go at 3D mosaics in my tutorials. Alternatively, Maverick Mosaics and I C Mosaics are just two examples of professional mosaicists who make clear, useful videos on a variety of mosaic matters. I C Mosaics has even prouduced a free ebook called 13 Favourite Tips for Making Mosaics.

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I-C Mosaics’ free e-book of tips for mosaic makers.

But the world of online mosaic tips is not necessarily trouble free. When I randomly typed in ‘how to grout a mosaic’ up popped so many helpful looking videos that I didnt know where to start. The drawback is that you can quickly get lost in a forest of videos about how to decorate your concrete mushroom or find yourself sitting through footage of middle aged ladies being chirpily upbeat about what to do with broken plates before chancing upon nuggets of real, solid informational gold. Precious time is also wasted on clips by folks who haven’t mastered the microphone or grasped the basic concept of lighting (that you need it):

teaching yourself mosaics
Surfing Youtube for teach yourself mosaic videos.

Online mosaic courses: paid for

Now, however, there are a number of paid-for professionally produced online mosaic courses for those who live far from mosaic civilisation or want to learn a new technique but don’t have the opportunity to attend the particular class they’re looking for. The choice of online mosaic courses is still limited but the field is growing and so it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s out there.

teaching yourself mosaics
One of Sharra Frank’s online courses

The following is a list of the online mosaic courses that I have managed to find. I have dug deep, sending out pleas for information on social media and posting a discussion on the Contemporary Mosaic Artists website, but if your online mosaic course has somehow slipped through the net, then please accept my apologies and send me a note to tell me about it. The courses are listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Brett Campbell Mosaics offers free online mosaic courses covering the principles of making mosaics. For those who want to advance their mosaic skills, he also provides paid-for classes on a range of subjects such as Pattern (9.97 AUD) or Design (29.97 AUD). His ‘premium’ option costs 49.97 AUD and includes all of the classes and addtional extras like photo tutorials on advanced cutting techniques and using power tools.
  2. Glittering Shards based in South London, UK is preparing to launch online classes about 1) Making mosaics, basics and advanced 2) Mosaics and mindfulness and 3) Art as a tool for transformation. If you want to be the first to know when the classes are launched, then subscribe to the e-course email list.
  3. Kasia Mosaics For stained glass lovers, this 3.5 hour online flower class covers all the skills you need to make your own stained glass flowers at home. All the techniques of stained glass mosaics are covered including cutting and shaping the glass, the front mounting technique and glueing and grouting indoor glass mosaics. Cost: $150
  4. Mosaic Art School of Sydney.  Offers a class in Mosaic Portraiture. The class covers ‘the foundational basics of mosaic art making and design – covering design and material preparation, OH&S, mosaic terminology, fabrication techniques, gluing… and more’. It costs 155 AUD.
  5. Mosaics By Susan. Offers a range of online classes covering a range of topics from china mirrors to painting with glass. The classes vary in length and are priced from $17 upwards.
  6. Roman Mosaic Workshops. Offers two courses: 1) Roman mosaics, the Rules  This course is both for beginners and more experienced mosaicists. The main areas it covers are ‘the preparation and what you need, how to look at the mosaics and what the Rules are, how you physically set the tesserae and why you need to do it in a particular order and finally how to improve your skills’.  2) Roman Geometric Mosaic Patterns (how to decipher, rescale and draw the patterns out). The cost of both courses is currently £50, a single course costs £35.
  7.  Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art and Mosaic Art Online. The Santa Barbara School has recently launched a number of online tutorials including 1) Methods for shaping wedi board 2) How to get creative using liquid tints in thin set, grout and so much more and 3) Light weight concrete sculpture for beginners. Their latest online class is Intuitive Andamento by Rachel Sager.  The tutorials are all designed with a novice in mind and cost $149 each.The school also offers kits for sale with all the materials needed for the courses. 
  8. Sharra Frank Fine Art Mosaics. Offers three courses through her site www.sharrasmosaicsecrets.com : 1) Mosaic window hanging and mirror class 2) Jewelled ornaments and 3) Scultped mosaic mirror frames (available from May 24, 2016). ‘The information provided in [these classes] can be applied to endless mosaic projects….  [It] gives you a strong foundation of skills and resources that will ensure success in future projects, and save you time and money.’ The first two classes are currently on sale for $99 each.

 

Coming up: Teaching Yourself Mosaics, Part II: Books, forums and experiments.

I got a great response from a Contemporary Mosaic Art discussion on the subject of teaching yourself mosaics, so my next blog  will be a crowd-sourced post from mosaic artists who’ve gone it alone.

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9 Comments

  1. Marian Shapiro

    Great post as usual – a couple of points though. Firstly Brett Campbell is a bloke. Secondly, I think one of the issues for beginners which applies to books, and “live” courses as well is how to work out the quality of the course content. Not that I have any answers to that one, but perhaps reading reviews and feedback where possible would be a useful start.

    1. Many thanks for this, Marian! I zipped in and changed Brett’s pronoun so that’s fine now and I quite agree about the difficulty of assessing the quality of course content. Reviews and feedback are indeed very helpful.

  2. As always, your post is informative and well researched, Helen.
    My quick reactions:
    . I’ve found free online videos to be just primers, never offering more than just the basics and I can understand why. Kasia Polkowska’s videos have often been cited among new learners as helpful videos to get started with stained glass cutting. She tells more than other mosaicists do. She also offers a DVD based paid learning option but presently not for countries other than the US and Canada. http://kasiamosaicsonlineclasses.blogspot.in/2015/06/online-class-stained-glass-mosaic.html
    . The most useful glass cutting tutorials on Youtube are from glass manufacturers like Bullseye or Delphi so their products actually get used.
    . I haven’t had luck in enrolling with CMA’s discussion board. The website http://contemporarymosaicart.com allows one to fill a form but there is no email confirming one’s subscription.
    . It’d be wonderful to see a post on your recommended books. I can see many books in the image above that I don’t have and would love to know of the ones you keep going back to.
    Best, Jyoti

  3. meri maisuradze

    Hello dear Helen. i do mosaics and please if possible share with me the components and amount of ifs proportions, for preparing the cement for mosaics.
    Thank you in advance and the best luck,
    Meri.

  4. To those interested in taking an online mosaic class Kasia Mosaics now offers an online class (that you stream) that is available world wide. You can sign up for the online flower class via http://www.kasiamosaicsclasses.com/course/online-flower-class/

    Once landing on the online flower class page you’ll find the “buy now” button after reading through the class info about the projects. Once you make a user account, purchase the class from the “buy now” button, you’ll head back to that same page to start the course (the “buy now” button will change to “start the course”)

    12 New Bonus templates were just added to the flower class and plans for the online version of her owl class is coming in 2017.

    Email: Kpolkowska@gmail.com with any questions.

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