beginner’s mosaics

Even the Romans did it: making mosaic mistakes

Little bird, Ravenna, Italy. The inner bands of colour in the outer circle have three different variations. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds with. (Vincent van Gogh)

It’s confession time. I am going to be writing about making mosaic mistakes and most of them will be mine. It’s not an easy thing to do. It makes me squirm. I dont like to think of all the wasted hours. Of the mosaics I made in the early days and then stuffed to the back of the cupboard, took out to the bins or sold for a pittance at craft fairs because they taunted me with their awfulness. But it’s important to remember two things: one, that everyone makes mosaic mistakes (admittedly, some more than others) and two, one person’s mistake can be another person’s success. Mosaic is a forgiving medium. Mistakes are often invisible to an outside eye or only add to the hand made-y-ness of the work. And of course if you are using the indirect method mistakes can be easily rectified. One of the nicest backhanded compliments I ever received was to go into a friend’s house and find one of my mosaics which I’d discarded by the roadside, proudly sitting there on a bathroom shelf. Continue reading

Five simple mosaic tips

(Take Two – I accidently posted this before I’d finished it)

The more we make mosaics, the more we find the methods and tricks which work best for us. These mosaic tips are some of mine – none of them are rocket science but somehow they often get forgotten in mosaic technique books and short courses.

In no particular order, let us begin.

Mosaic Tips: No. 1


Lay the fiddly bits which fit into awkward spaces at the same time as the neighbouring tesserae so, if necessary, you can gently ease the neighbouring tesserae aside while the glue is still wet.

In the simple plant design above, it would have been much harder to lay the white background tesserae in the gaps between the leaves and the stalk if the dark plant tesserae hadn’t still been pliable. Continue reading

Making a mosaic trivet: in photos

Making a mosaic trivet: in photos

Making a mosaic trivet: an easy project in photos.

In case you’re wondering, a trivet is a pot stand. Its not a word I use much but Americans seem to be comfortable with it for reasons of their own just like they like to say ‘suspenders’ when they mean things to hold your trousers up, but let’s not start on that one. It’s a thing for putting hot pans on so that you don’t mark the surfaces. My aunt, who is American and lives in Connecticut, has asked me to make one for a dining room table and although I have never made one before, I am happy to oblige. Ever keen to get new blog followers, I have been reading up about social media recently and it seems that I ought to be posting short videos on Youtube so I think I might even do a mosaic trivet making video some time soon so keep your eyes and ears peeled…. But first I need a new hair do or a brown paper bag.

Meanwhile, here’s a project: making a mosaic trivet using the direct method (which means sticking the tesserae directly on the board). Simple, straightforward, no fuss and a useful thing to have in any house.

You can see the whole project below in photos so you can get an idea of what’s involved. Later posts will give detailed instructions for making a mosaic trivet in four parts:

Part I: Preparing the board.

Part II: Designing the mosaic and choosing the materials.

Part III: Making the mosaic

Part IV: Grouting and finishing the trivet.