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Making a Mosaic Trivet, Part III.

From this:

From this....

…to this: this


Cutting, laying and fixing the mosaic

Now its time to get down to business and start cutting your tiles, laying the mosaic and sticking the tesserae in place.

Tools for making a mosaic trivet:

You will need:

  • Tile nippers
  • Tweezers (optional)
  • PVA glue

Mosaic tools - tweezers and nippers

The tile nippers are easy to find at most hardware suppliers – make sure they have the spring bit in the middle. They will cost around 12 pounds and there are plenty of suppliers in the UK who will send them mail order. Try:

Some mosaic makers can live without tweezers, but I cant. I bought these tweezers years ago from a Byzantine arts supplier in Thessaloniki, Greece, which isn’t going to help you much here, but I would go the extra mile and try and find ones with that little bendy bit at the end.  In my view they are essential for allowing you to place small and fiddly tesserae with ease and accuracy.

The glue you can get anywhere. I use this big tub of the stuff which says that it sticks almost anything you care to imagine from ceramic to glass and it’s never let me down.

Direct method glue

Cutting method:

Making a Mosaic Trivet, Part III. How to cut a tile.

Cut the individual tesserae by holding the tile firmly between finger and thumb in one hand and the nippers in the other.

Place the edge of the nippers over the edge of the tile, no more than about three millimetres in and then give the nippers a firm squeeze.

If you place the nippers too far over the tile, then cutting will be much harder, if not impossible.

This is how NOT to do it:

Making a mosaic trivet: Part III
The nippers are too far into the middle of the tile – they should be on the edge.

To work!

1. Transfer or copy the mosaic design onto your board and then lay down the outline tesserae. The way you glue the tesserae depends on personal preference. Either a) put a largish blob of glue into a shallow receptacle, like a jar lid, and then dip each tesserae into the glue before laying it, or b) apply a line of glue to the board and press the tesserae into the glue in batches. I use method ‘a’.

Stick down the outline of the mosaic first.

2. Once the glue sets, you’ve had it, so it’s best to do the awkward filling-in bits at this stage too. The white triangle background piece in the photo can be fitted in neatly when the outline tesserae are still moveable and the same with the brown tesserae on the wings.

Also do fiddly filling-in bits now before the glue sets.

3. Next, fill in the main design,  again doing fiddly bits of the background if necessary as you work, as in the gap between the bird’s legs in this photo.

Fill in the main design.

4. Start doing the outline around your main design in the colour you have chosen for your background.

Making a mosaic trivet: in photos

5. Complete the outline around the main design features. I always like to ‘pepper’ my background colour with a slightly different tone to add interest.

Do a line of the background tesserae around the main design.

6. Then lay down a line of tesserae around the edge of the board to act as a ‘frame’ making sure that the natural straight edge of the tiles matches the edge of the board. Once you’ve done that, you can start filling in the background.

Mosaic the border all around the board and then fill in the background.

7. Continue until you have finished filling in the background area. The mosaic is now ready for grouting and finishing.

The mosaic part complete - before grouting.

Coming soon! Making a Mosaic Trivet: Part IV. Grouting and finishing the mosaic.









  1. Maggie

    He Helen, love your post thank you so much as l am new to mosaic, could you please tell
    Me how big the gap between tiles is
    Thank you Maggie

    1. That’s nice to hear Maggie! The gap I use is about 3mm but that’s just me. Some people place them closer together, others further apart. The main thing is to be consistent.

        1. Hello Janice. I used to live in Greece where I had cheap and abundant access to marble so these tesserae are stone. However, now that I am back in the UK I use Winckelmans or Cinca tiles which are widely available.

  2. Guillermo Garcia Gardea


    Estoy en Mexico y me da mucho gusto haberme encontrado con muestraas de
    trabajo. Me puedes decir que precio le pones a un cuadro como este que acabamos
    de ver ?. Salaudos.

    1. Hi Guillermo. Thank you for your message. It is very hard to give the price of mosaics like this which are small scale and made for domestic use and therefore there is a limit to how much someone would pay for it. However, I would say that one wouldn’t be able to charge more than £150. Hope that helps. Helen

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