Larger mosaics on mesh.
Part II of a 2-part post on making mosaics on mesh.
Let me cast your minds back to February, 2014 when I wrote a step-by-step tutorial post on how to make a mosaic on mesh. Back then I was full of the joys of mesh and two years later I am still bursting with enthusiasm about the method. I love its versatility, and lightness and the way it solves the problem of making mosaics for faraway destinations, hard to reach places or awkward surfaces. It has all the advantages of the reverse paper method without the disadvantages of working in reverse.
The original blog post laid out the method for making a small mosaic and now its time to think about larger mosaics on mesh. Over the months a few people (to whom I am eternally grateful) have written comments in response to the post and it’s clear that people are interested in the method but that the first post doesn’t go far enough – so this post about larger mosaics on mesh is for all those mosaic makers out there who are ready to take off and tackle bigger, more ambitious projects.
Let me start by defining what I mean by larger mosaics on mesh. When the time comes to install your mosaic, you want to be sure to have easy to handle pieces that are not too unweildy. The process of fixing a mosaic on mesh into position is pretty much the same as the process involved in tiling a bathroom. As a rough guide, I aim for pieces which are not much larger than the size of a lap top screen although they might be longer and thinner. There are plenty of exceptions to this and it really all depends on the space that the mosaic will fill and access to it. The fish mosaic above was made for a bathroom wall with no awkward corners or other impediments to installation so it could be made in larger, longer pieces which can still be held easily by one person and put into position.
Eight easy steps to making larger mosaics on mesh.
The first thing to think about when you make larger mosaics on mesh is where you are going to make the breaks in your design. Depending on the size of the mosaic you will either be making it in one piece and cutting it for transportation and installation (as was the case with this black and white birds mosaic below) or, if the mosaic is very large and your studio space is not (as was the case with the fishy splashback), then you will make the mosaic in pieces which will then be joined together on site. Once the mosaic is installed the break lines will be invisible as they will be an intrinsic part of the grouted interstices.
As far as possible divide up the mosaic in accordance with its design. In other words, try not to cut across the ‘grain’ of the mosaic. The resulting mosaic panels will inevitably be different sizes and odd shapes but regular-sized pieces are not what you are aiming for. Given that the tesserae are flowing horizontally in this Unswept Floor mosaic, the left to right cut was easy. In order to divide the mosaic up further I also needed to cut it from top to bottom so I tried to keep to the outer line of the fish and the glasses so that the breaks follow the same lines as the andamento.
The mosaic I will use to illustrate the tutorial is a splash back with a fish theme which I recently made for a kitchen in Washington, DC. The main requirement was that the splashback should include an ocotopus based on the 3,500 year old Minoan vase (below) which is displayed in the Athens Archeological Museum.The mosaic measured 3.8 metres by .5 metres and was made in 25 pieces. This tutorial assumes that the mosaic you are making is larger than your working area and therefore needs to be cut into pieces before you begin work.
First design your mosaic and make a template to the correct size. Then decide where the breaks will be and mark them onto your template. Make sure they are clearly visible as you will need them as guidelines once you’ve laid the cling film and mesh over the design (see Making a Mosaic on Mesh, Part I: https://helenmilesmosaics.org/mosaic-tutorials/making-a-mosaic-on-mesh/).
Cut the template into workable sizes. You will probably be able to work on at least two panels at once.
If I am working on two adjoining panels which are small enough not to require pre-cutting, I used to leave marginally wider interstices between the tesserae along the marked break lines. These become invisible after you install the mosaic. However, this is not necessary as long as you have a reasonable gap between the tesserae and I no longer bother.
When you move onto the next panel, it’s helpful to lay the completed one alongside it in order to check that you maintain the flow of the andamento. I mark the direction of the flow on the new template and check it as I work.
When you’re finished the mosaic it’s time to cut it into smaller pieces according to your needs.
Dont forget to peel off the underlay of cling film when you remove the panels from their backing board.
You are then ready to lay out the completed mosaic and check how it looks.
In some instances, the break lines didn’t merge into the flow of the andamento and remained visible. Another great advantage of the mesh method is that individual tesserae can be easily removed and put back in place so I ‘sewed’ adjoining panels together (see below) so that the joins wouldn’t draw the eye.
If your mosaic has lots of panels be sure to number them and make a plan of the order the mosaic will be laid when it is reassembled on site.
Your mosaic is now ready to stack and transport to its new home.
In case you missed the links above, here’s how you get to Part I of this post:
And here is a post about how to install mosaics on mesh:
I wish you every success with your mosaic on mesh and would love to hear how you get on with the method so please send me your views, photos and comments as it would be great to do a follow up post showing readers’ work. 🙂