Adding Texture to your Mosaic

October 20, 2014


Texture and depth are achieved by using different types and thicknesses of tesserae and are important design elements in mosaics. It can make a mosaic catch the light and sparkle, producing beautiful effects.

Types of Tesserae that can be combined to produce different textures

Smalti - Smalti shapes are irregular with rough surfaces. The cut edge is often used as the face of the tile, which gives it a unique brilliance and reflective quality. It is made from molten glass poured onto a flat metal surface and hand cut. Mosaics made from smalti are traditionally left un-grouted.

Glass Tiles - Glass tiles typically come in two sizes, 2 cm's square and 1 cm square. They have a flat upper surface and a beveled bottom, thin and flat they are easily cut using tile nippers. Relatively inexpensive they are available is an extensive range of colours.

Marble - Marble tile is one of the oldest and a traditional mosaic material. Its durability and strength makes it an ideal medium for floor mosaics.

Ceramic Tiles - One of the most commonly used materials in mosaics; ceramic tiles are inexpensive and widely available. They can be hand cut with nippers or broken with a hammer.

Millefiori - Murrine are slender rods or canes of multicoloured glass. Slices of murrine are heated together and drawn into fine cylinder shapes and sliced creating millefiori. They typically come in floral patterns and geometric shapes and are beautiful (but expensive) additions to mosaic pieces.

Stained glass - Can be cut into virtually any shape and comes in a huge range of colours and finishes. Stained Glass can be purchased as either whole sheets or glass chips (great if you're not comfortable with cutting glass yourself).

Glass Gems - Manufactured in a wide variety of colours, sizes and finishes. Flat bottomed glass gems are easy to adhere and fantastic features. They are fantastic in mosaic mirrors, picture frames, splashbacks and mosaic stepping stones, and also work well asØaccents in mosaic images.

Mirror - The reflective qualities of mirror can bring a piece to life. Mirror works well in garden mosaics as it reflects the light and colours of the garden.

Other types of tesserae include: shells, pebbles, sea glass beads, broken china and gemstones.

Things to consider when adding texture to your mosaic piece

  • Remember to leave adequate gaps between different thickness tesserae to enable you to slope the grout between the difference thicknesses, ensuring that you don't drown the thinner pieces. Alternatively if the tesserae are placed tightly next to each other you could opt for not grouting your piece.
  • Consideration should also be given to the thickness of the tesserae and the light conditions in which it will be displayed. In the wrong light conditions the tesserae may cast shadows causing the look of the mosaic to be ruined.
  • Texture doesn't work on surfaces that must be flat.