Free mosaic resources and information. Workshops in Greece and Scotland.

Making a mosaic trivet: Part II. Mosaic designs and materials.

Making a mosaic trivet: choosing materials.

This is Part II  of my four part series on making a mosaic trivet – Part I explained how to prepare your base, the marine plywood board, and so now’s the time to choose your materials and mosaic designs. This is where the fun starts.

Materials will influence your design and visa versa so you need to be thinking about both at the same time. In this instance, however,  you are going to be making a direct method mosaic trivet which needs to be flat to put pots on, so there are only three choices of materials (pictured above):

  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Stone

Within these three choices, however, the range of colours is enormous and the effects they create are entirely different so limited choices doesn’t mean limited results. Take a look at the work of mosaicists who are established in the field and tend to prefer certain materials. Martin Cheek, for example, does amazing things in glass:

Martin Cheek fish

Tessa Hunkin has just completed the wonderful Hackney mosaic using ceramic (this is just a detail):

Tessa Hunkin, Hackney mosaic

And of course there’s me and Lawrence Payne of Roman Mosaic Workshops who are partial to stone.

Choosing mosaic designs: basic principles.

When you start thinking about choosing mosaic designs, you need to bear in mind that the process of mosaic making comes with certain constraints. Given that the piece will, by its very nature, have a fractured effect, designs work best which are:

  • Bold
  • Simple
  • Clear

Different components of the design need to be clearly delineated from each other if you want the image to be instantly ‘readable’, although there are also abstract options too – look at this work by Sonia King:

Sonia King Spaces II

And don’t forget that patterns make wonderful mosaic designs:

Squid and patterns: Basilica of Aquliea, Italy,
Squid and patterns: Basilica of Aquliea, Italy,

 Inspiration: Get a Pinterest account

The best thing I can recommend at this stage, is to allow yourself a free-internet rein and surf about looking at different mosaics using different materials until you get a feel for what you would like to do. Here I am going to stop everything and hold up a huge placard saying ‘OPEN A PINTEREST ACCOUNT NOW!’ It’s incredibly useful for getting ideas and keeping hold of them for a later day and also for general dabbling about.

Basically, its like using Google images except that you have an account so when you find something you like and want to keep, then you pin it on one of your boards which can be organised into any subject/theme you like. Other people can then ‘follow’ your boards or you can follow them so that if they are busy pinning images of all the sorts of things that you are interested in, then you wont miss their pins. To make things even better, you can create secret boards so the whole world doesn’t have to know about your particular weird obsessions. I have a secret board called Kitchens because one day, when I’m grown up, I am going to have a real kitchen but its sort of sad that I am sitting here fantasizing about work surfaces and cupboard space so I keep it to myself on my secret board.

My Pinterest account has boards entitled things like: Ancient Mosaics, Byzantine Mosaics, Pebble Mosaics, Mosaic Inspiration and so on but obviously you can choose to categorise your boards however you like.

More inspiration: look around you

If you feel like you want to do your own thing, then look around you – the natural world is full of inspiration:

Making a mosaic trivet, Part II. Material and design.

And there are plenty of designs which can be taken from other contexts and adapted to mosaic – take this Korean wrapping cloth from the British Museum:

Making a mosaic trivet. Part II. Materials and design.

Coming soon: Making a mosaic trivet – get sticking!







  1. Chris Coleman

    I just wanted you to know that I really enjoy your website and I’m glad I was able to find it. I’m new to mosaics and was wondering if you can recommend a good source for tesserae, particularly stone tesserae. I love the look of ancient mosaics, but I’m finding it difficult find the right material to attempt to create my own feeble imitation of these works of art.

    Thank You,
    Chris C.

    1. I am so glad you enjoy the site 🙂 Which country do you live in? I know where to get stone tesserae in the UK and in Greece where I live but otherwise sadly I don’t think I can help. Yours, Helen.

  2. Sheila Flynn

    Dear Helen
    I have just followed through on your web pages related to creating mosaics, trivets, etc., and was delighted with your creativity and down-to-earth tips.
    I am hoping to do a mosaic plinth for a statue at our school in Melbourne, have had no experience whatsoever of how to go about it or where supplies are, or costs, but your descriptions have galvanised my motivation to go ahead without feeling utterly overwhelmed by the task.
    Thank you!

  3. Hanan Marji Nimri

    Thank you Helen for very useful information.
    I can’t find stones that are the same dimensions ( as sticks or rods) to start cutting little tiles from. !!!
    I know that when the mosaic piece is done the whole surface should feel all the same high.
    How can I solve this problem?

    Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Hanan. Yes, it can be quite difficult to find stones that are all the same thickness. I get my supply from Greece but have found it marble to be difficult to find elsewhere. If I would suggest that you switch to using purpose made tiles like Winklemans unglazed ceramic or vitreous glass. I hope this helps! Helen

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