Mosaic techniques are taught in many traditional and online arts classes. Creating a mosaic is the art of aggregation. Small fractures of colored glass, stone or other materials are juxtaposed upon media such as wood and stone. The earliest know mosaics are geometric patterns of shell and ivory, which are found in Mesopotamia. Though the craft of creating a mosaic is ancient, the technique has suffered little change from the days of antiquity.
The first step of the mosaic technique is to choose a medium. The most common medium is a tabletop, but any surface will suffice. If the medium you choose is not porous, you may have to spread a thin layer of sand over it. This technique allows for the small fractures of glass, stone or shell to adhere better.
The next step in the mosaic technique is to acquire the tesserae. Tesserae are the materials you wish to utilize in your mosaic; this may be shell, bone, fractures of mirror or broken china. The tesserae may be acquired from thrift stores, garage sales, or around the house - this is a great way to recycle.
Now that you have selected a medium, and gathered the tesserae, you must now pick a design for your mosaic. Designs may be simple geometric shapes, or figurative. Beginners may want to photocopy an image in the size and shape of the selected medium, and then trace the image on to the medium. This can be easily achieved by tracing the photocopied image with a charcoal pen. The photocopied image is then placed face down on the desired medium, and rubbed from the back side with something heavy. This leaves a negative of the original image on the selected medium. This technique is called the direct method.
This next step is very important. You must now choose the proper adhesive. There are many adhesives on the market today, each serving a different purpose: some are more durable than others and will sustain drastic changes in temperature. You will have to do some research.
After adhering the tesserae to your chosen medium, and you are happy with the result, it is time to grout. Grout is a paste when mixed with water. It is used to seal the gaps between the tesserae. This smoothes the overall appearance of the mosaic, as well as stops corrosive elements from damaging the mosaic. This is one of the most important aspects of the mosaic technique, without the grout, the elements will destroy the bond between the adhesive layer and the tesserae.
The last step is applying the grout. This is done with a putty knife. In the mosaic technique, the grout is basically smeared over the surface of the mosaic. Finally, excess grout is wiped away with a cloth.
You have now completed your first mosaic. To learn more about this ancient craft, consider enrolling in an online art history or design class.