How to make a direct method mosaic on mesh, Part I
Truth be told, I am going through a bit of a mesh phase. I cant seem to get enough of it. Making a mesh on mesh is just so darn simple, convenient, versatile and all-round handy. The finished work is easily lifted from its base, doesn’t weigh much and is a total synch to transport. The ‘unswept floor’ mosaic I am working on above is just the latest in a string of mesh mosaics I have made in my new found enthusiasm for the method.
Here’s one that’s finished. See what I mean about it’s light weight, ready-to-go-ness?
One of the things I like about making a mosaic on mesh, is that they can be whatever shape you like. What more could you possibly want? Nothing. Good, we’re agreed, so let’s get to work.
First, you will need some supplies:
- Your design. Make sure it is clearly outlined with a black marker pen so that it is easy to see through the layers once the cling film and mesh are laid on top.
- A backing board
- Cling film
- Mesh. All mosaic suppliers will keep it in stock. I use the Mosaic Workshop but I have actually found some perfectly good mesh in a builder’s yard here in Athens, so I don’t think you need to get particularly fussy about it being mosaic mesh as opposed to any other kind
- Glue – I use a brand which I buy in Greece called Atlacoll 37 which is for ceramic tiles. The Mosaic Workshop in London sells Titebond II Premium Wood Glue for the same purpose.
- A Stanley knife
Making a mosaic on mesh- the method:
1. Put your design on the backing board and tape it down at the corners.
2. Put a layer of cling film over the design so that the mesh doesn’t end up getting glued onto the paper. Tape the cling film down too.
3. Put the mesh on top, securing it firmly at the edges.
4. Lay your tesserae in the normal manner. For more details on laying a direct method mosaic go to my post: https://helenmilesmosaics.org/making-mosaics-2/how-to-make-mosaics/making-a-mosaic-trivet/
TOP TIP: Take care to apply only enough glue needed to fix the individual tesserae to the mesh – not so much that it squishes around the sides. You want to make sure that the gaps between the tesserae are clear for the grout to fill.
5. Wait until the glue is fully dry and then cut around the mosaic with your Stanley knife, so it can be lifted off the base:
6. Turn the mosaic over and peel off the cling film:
7. Grout the mosaic in the usual way. (See my post on grouting: https://helenmilesmosaics.org/making-mosaics-2/grouting-mosaics/ ). Leave it to dry and, voila, there you have a light weight, ‘cut out’ mosaic that you can fix onto any clean, dry, flat surface.
A word of warning
I experimented with pre-grouting mosaics on mesh after reading Elaine Goodwin’s book Classic Mosaic in which she has a wonderful photograph of a court yard space with mosaicked birds on the wall hovering over an actual (mosaicked) bird table. It seemed like a good idea to grout in advance because you avoid all the mess and bother of grouting on site especially if you making small mosaics. There is a serious drawback though: pre-grouted mosaics are very fragile. I don’t recommend choosing a shape/design with fiddly bits or thin projections. I made a bird aka Goodwin and the tail cracked after grouting. A spot of super glue will set it to rights but I will avoid pre-grouting in future.
Furthermore, you can only use the pre-grouted technique on small mosaics like the bee above. The mosaic below is 32cm x 23cm and will need to be grouted after it’s been applied on site to a wall with tile adhesive.
For further mosaic tutorials, go to my series on Making a Mosaic Trivet.