My previous posts attempt to share leads to tools, tiles and adhesives used in mosaic-making but an interested learner may still be flummoxed in the face of choices and may still wonder how to go about making a mosaic. My view is to follow the approach below.
Join a Mosaic Workshop
If one can find a trainer, making even a small mosaic under guidance
demystifies the process of holding the nippers, cutting tiles, arranging their flow, sticking them and then coming to grips with the messy but all important grouting process. One may have How-to Project books, good Net bandwidth to watch video tutorials but there is really nothing as ideal as learning by doing it under guidance.
Since the last year that I’ve been running the Facebook group Mosaic India, I’ve learned of a few India based mosaic-makers who train as well. If you wish to connect with a trainer, join the FB group and enquire about trainers in your city.
Learn to cut Stained Glass
India has more Stained Glass practitioners than mosaicists. It may be, therefore, easier to track down a stained glass artist than a mosaic-maker. Reach out to artists in your city, request that they teach you to cut stained glass shapes. Traditional stained glass requires steps of grinding shape edges once they are cut, copper-foiling them and then soldering multiple shapes to create a composition or 3D piece. To make mosaics, a learner can get oriented on scoring and cutting shapes of stained glass, and then move on to the steps of sticking shapes and grouting the composition.
Buy a Mosaic Kit and Make it
A small mosaic kit comes with materials and instructions on making a mosaic. The kit doesn’t carry any nippers but it does have pre-cut tiles and other essential items. Making a mosaic using a kit demystifies the basic steps involved in creating a finished mosaic and that can get many learners going onto more. In India, I’ve heard of only 2 sources of basic kits but on Amazon US I can see 8-10 kit options. They don’t ship to India but any friend from the US may be asked to bring you one.
Offer to be a Mosaic-maker’s Assistant
Even those mosaic-makers who do not run workshops or teach in one-on-one sessions, may value help to finish their commissioned pieces. Be on the lookout for such opportunities to learn as you assist.
Just Make It
If you have none of the above options available to you, just make a mosaic based on your understanding from How-to books or videos and get going. Ask questions, share your experience of making your first mosaic in the FB group and keep taking leaps beyond.
In the next post, I’ll describe the exact process of making a simple mosaic to help remove any further hesitation that a beginner feels.
Since mosaics can be made with varying media and substrates, a careful thought on adhesives becomes necessary. Some quick considerations that come to mind are these:
. The intended location of the mosaic – outdoors or indoors
. Weight of tesserae – ceramic tiles, glass, shells or stones
. Size of mosaic – a large wall, a 3D installation or just a small coaster
. Climate conditions – overly humid or frost-ridden or dry
. Substrate material – cement, glass, stone, wood or metal
Here are the adhesive choices that I’m familiar with:
Fevicol is the most popular PVA used in India. The craft quality fevicol is graded as MR and it’s good enough for small wall art, but as the size of substrate and weight of tesserae go up, it’s prudent to use the carpenter quality PVA or Fevicol SH. Of late, I’ve seen Fevicol Marine being sold as a more waterproof variant but I still need to test it for outdoors.
Fevicol dries clear and it’s good for mdf, wood and fibre mesh.
Internationally, silicone is recommended for mosaics meant for outdoors. My own experience shows me that the silicone we get here in different brands has less adhesion than Fevicol SH. I’ll keep checking more brands of silicone and post an update on the brand that works better than Fevicol SH.
For Glass on Glass, artists recommend thinly and evenly applied silicone as it dries clear. Those of you with experience with silicone should please share the silicone brands you’ve found effective.
If not Silicone, the adhesive highly recommended for outdoors is Thinset. It’s essentially grey or white cement with chemicals for better bonding. Thinset is mixed with water, allowed a few minutes of slaking time and buttered on the reverse of tiles to stick to substrates like wood, metal, stones or walls. If a mosaic is created on fibre mesh, the mosaicked mesh can be applied to its intended substrate using Thinset. White or grey colour can be chosen based on the colour of tiles and substrate.
Popular brands of Thinset used by folks I’ve connected with are Laticrete, Asian Paints, Ardex Endura and Roff.
Epoxy adhesives come in the combination of Resin and Hardener as in the popular brand Araldite. Once mixed, the adhesive has to be applied quickly as it hardens within minutes. Epoxy adhesives are waterproof and bond strongly but because they don’t dry clear and they give little time for applying to tiles, they aren’t favoured by many.
Pre-mixed Adhesive Pastes
I’ve known of white pastes from Kerakoll and Roff that are recommended for adhering fibre mesh or direct tiles to walls but because they come in large buckets, I haven’t acquired them for testing as yet. Those of you with experience with these adhesives are requested to share your views on the brands you’ve found effective.
I use these adhesives for those odd tesserae that weren’t stuck properly and come off the substrate as I start grouting the mosaic. Their instant adhesive and drying qualities are helpful in those situations.
I’m sure I’ve missed many glues from the list above. In international groups, I keep hearing of liquid nails or elmer’s glue and the hugely popular Weldbond, none of which I’ve had access to. So do tell if I should include any more adhesives in my mosaic kit.
After covering leads to tools and media for creating mosaics I’d like to share ideas on materials that can be mosaicked. The base that one uses to create a mosaic is called a Substrate. This base can be flat to hang on a wall or a 3D object to place indoors, outdoors or can be a wall itself. Every material and its intended location would need consideration on the adhesive suitable for it; a topic I’ll cover in another post.
Here are some ideas on what you could be using as a base for your mosaic:
Medium-density Fibreboard or MDF is easier to cut, and weighs less, than commercial ply and it can be easily bought in the required sizes from local framers or wood suppliers. The thickness recommended for mosaics is generally 8 mm to carry the weight of tesserae but framers provide 4 mm ones that they themselves use for supporting frames, and those have served me well enough for sizes under 11″x14″. I get them in small or medium sizes from a local framer very cheaply and keep them handy for vitreous or stained glass mosaics.
There are shops and online craft stores that can provide mdf shapes in varying shapes that expand the range of mosaicked products one can create. These can be coasters, trivets, trays, shaped photo frames, boxes and more. The online sources that I know for mdf shapes are these:
Since mosaic-making is still a lesser-known art, mdf shapes are made available by suppliers essentially for Decoupage. However, any 4+ mm mdf cutout providing large enough area for glass pieces to adhere can be used for mosaics.
For heavy ceramic tile or crockery cuts, or large sized mosaic compositions for indoors, it’s best to use a commercial board or a thick ply to prevent its sagging under the tesserae and grout weight. Get it cut in the required size from the place of purchase.
Wooden bowls, driftwood or stumps of trees are all good for mosaicking too.
Cement Paving Tiles and Other Objects
Pre-made cement stepping stones are favourite substrates among many for gardens or pathways. Cement flower or plant pots, bird-baths, fountains, garden benches or tables can also be mosaicked, and they look wonderful with a colourful play of ceramic or glass tiles.
Planters, bird-baths, fruit-plates can work as substrate choices.
River Stones and Boulders
If these stones offer flat patches then they can be mosaicked and placed outdoors or small river stones can be used as paperweights for indoors.
Walls can be mosaicked using a direct method onsite or double-direct method that uses a fibre-mesh offsite for eventual adhering to a wall indoors or outdoors.
Glass on glass (GOG) is a favourite method or subject of mosaicking for many. Window panes or sun-catchers can be created with stained glass so light reflects through them. Glass lamps or bottles get covered in this category too.
Plexi-glass or Polycarbonate Sheets
These can be cut with a mechanical tool or special scissors to create garden-stakes or other garden art as this base works like glass for sunlight to filter through.
Iron metal tables or garden stakes are popular substrate choices among mosaic artists for creating objects for outdoors, and they look rather charming because of the stark difference between the black metal and colorful tiles.
Besides above, I’ve come across mannequins, dense foam, plaster of paris sculptures, slate tiles, the reverse of ceramic tiles etc. being used by many artists as substrates for their mosaics. Another favorite substrate for vertical art meant for outdoors is Wediboard. This board is made of foam, covered on both sides with a thin layer of cement and it’s waterproof. It’s also light-weight and cuts with a sharp kitchen knife so mosaic artists internationally prefer its use for outdoors or shower areas. I’m still to find a similar product in India but for now, given the wide substrate choices listed above, I already have a long list of substrates and tesserae to experiment with to further my skills as a mosaicist. And, so do you :)
This is a post I’ve long meant to write. As I could only find basic orientation on cutting and adhering of tiles, I felt that my further learning will come from published books, blogs and other Net resources. Although they are wonderful in opening up a learner’s thought span, Net based features or blogs tend to offer only fragmented knowledge. I’ve therefore picked up many paper books and some ebooks to feed my childlike enthusiasm for mosaic techniques and wherewithal.
As on date, I’ve 9 paper books and 3 ebooks in my personal library on mosaics, and only 1 out of them was bought locally. Since mosaics are still a low-visibility art in India, I knew that I won’t find many books in the local bookshops or even in online sites. Till I could find a helpful friend travelling from the US to bring me books, I scanned Amazon India for any ebooks on mosaics that I could buy instantly. I found a few and bought 3 of them. I’d however recommend only 1 out of those to other enthusiasts. Even among the paper books I own, I’d advise investing in only 3-4. Here are those recommendations:
Mosaic Garden Projects by Mark Brody and Sheila Ashdown: A year ago, this was the only Kindle ebook available from Amazon US/India that offered multiple project ideas and detailed How-tos. I recommend this book for its instant availability, outdoor projects and the suggested double-direct method.
Mosaic Techniques and Traditions by Sonia King: Available for purchase from Amazon India, I recommend this book as a must have in any learner’s collection. It carries a good blend of the mosaic history, inspiring creations by experienced mosaicists, mosaic techniques and guided projects (17 of them).
300+ Mosaic Tips, Techniques, Templates and Trade Secrets by Bonnie Fitzgerald: The title says it all. The author is an experienced mosaicist and trainer so covers How-to projects and shares techniques for early to intermediate learners. The book is now available from Amazon India but I had a friend bring it from the US. A good book to have.
The Mosaic Idea Book by Rosalind Wates: I quite like the idea of this Idea book. Many templates distinctly show the flow of tesserae to encourage good tile cutting and laying habits. BUT this book, the 300+ Mosaic Tips book and the next one are by the same publisher, a London based company called Quarto Publishing. Disappointingly, all 3 have many identical mosaic templates.
The Encyclopedia of Mosaic Techniques by Emma Biggs: An enticing title and a nice book to browse but this book too is by Quarto Publishing, London, so carries multiple How-to projects from the above 2 books. I advise only 1 out of the above 3 for one’s personal library.
Mosaic Craft: 20 Modern Projects for the Contemporary Home by Martin Cheek: I was drawn to the book’s cover showing fruity stools, and otherwise too found Mr. Cheek’s peacock and animal caricatures very inspiring. He has been increasingly using fused glass for his mosaics in the recent past, and otherwise, the book carries projects showing a high use of milliefiori which we don’t find in India. Still, a nice book to browse.
Mosaics: Inspiration and Original Projects for Interiors and Exteriors by Kaffe Fassett and Candace Bahouth: My newest book, I saw it recommended by mosaicists doing Picassiette. Handling floral crockery has long been on my learning agenda so I’ve sought it out. I love 2 projects in it: a tapestry inspired accent chair and a portrait, both by Bahouth. The rest of the projects use a blend of crockery, ceramics, shells, stones, pearls etc. in random cuts or Opus Palladianum, much like Raymond Isidore’s style of mosaicking. This book was published in the year 1999 and has an old world charm about it so it’s nice to browse.
I have these other books that I like flipping through for their good paper or colorful mosaics, and if you’re a book and tool hoarder like me, you’re welcome to ask for my impressions of each of these books. For spartan mindsets, I’d recommend just the first 2 or 3 from the list above.
The Complete Book of Mosaics: Techniques and Instructions for Over 25 Beautiful Home Accents by Emma Biggs and Tessa Hunkin
Garden Mosaics: 19 beautiful mosaic projects for your garden by Emma Biggs and Tessa Hunkin
Beginner’s Guide to Mosaic by Peter Massey and Alison Slater
Beautiful Mosaic Flowers: A Step-by-Step Guide: Volume 3 by Sigalit Eshet : Kindle book
The Magic Mesh: Mosaic Mesh Projects: Volume 6 by Sigalit Eshet : Kindle book
Are there any books outside of this collection that you own and enjoy using repeatedly? Do tell me.
Other than documenting in this blog what I’ve learned on mosaic tools and more, I’ve started a group on Facebook to encourage new mosaicists to seek inputs on their work or ask questions. There is still little orientation available to adequately learn the art of mosaics in India that I’m hoping this budding community to provide a good mentoring ground to further mosaic learning and making. Those who are running workshops can also be tracked through it. As good art is being created, avenues for marketing it can also be identified by members of the group. The group members are both India based and international to bring in their advance and varied experience. Besides, I share inspiring feeds on mosaic artists, sites, blogs and mosaic methods to maintain the atmosphere of learning and knowing more about mosaics.
Anyone with little or advance experience in mosaic-making will benefit from being part of the group. Come join it if you’re a mosaicist in India or with interest in connecting with India based mosaicists.
If a mosaicist wishes to include ceramic tiles in her range of media, then a couple more tools become necessary to acquire. Ceramic tiles are cheaper and rugged so prove useful for outside applications. Garden paving stones, planters, walls or staircases can be more effectively mosaicked with ceramic tiles than vitreous glass alone so a mosaicist’s ability to use them can broaden her range of mosaic products to create.
As of now, my use of ceramic tiles has been limited to those I’ve broken with a hammer and applied on a yard step but I do intend to cut these tiles in a more controlled way so I’ve been researching the tools necessary for them. Here they are.
Hammer: This is the most common tool in use for breaking ceramic tiles for large wall murals or other cemented structures. Tiles can be placed inside newspapers and broken with a hammer to prevent the pieces from flying or the tile dust from getting into one’s lungs. These pieces can then be arranged in Opus Palladianum or random style to fill the drawn shapes.
Scorer-cum-snapper: This tool has a scoring wheel on one side and a fat movable plastic wing on the other side of its mouth. It is used to run a deep score on a ceramic tile which can then be held by the black wing and snapped. Strips of tiles can be cut with this tool that compound nippers can further nip into shapes. I haven’t found this to be an easy tool to use but with more practice it may act as intended.
Compound nippers: These are used to nip off small bits of a tile to create circles and other shapes. This is an essential tool to keep for ceramic tiles.
Side biter or nippers: Much like a pair of compound nippers, this tool nips off small pieces of cut or broken ceramic tile to give it a defined shape. This is another tool I’m trying to come to grips with! Many mosaicists find it effective enough. Commercial tile layers in India call it ‘Jamboora’ and do use it for nipping.
Manual Tile saw: I find this saw to be the most essential tool to cut ceramic tiles. Its function is also to score and snap a tile along a score which can be made vertically or diagonally. Its scorer on the lever does an effective job in comparison to the hand-held scorer-cum-snapper. Thin strips of tiles can be cut with this saw that can be further shaped using a pair of compound nippers. As this is a heavy tool to get shipped from another country, I’m pleased to learn after making multiple enquiries from Amazon India that a local hardware supplier in Mumbai (NBHT) has been importing them and can provide them easily. They also give a 2-year warranty on them. Prior to getting this response from Amazon India, I’d learned of Somany Ceramics providing a similar saw (not Rubi) as part of their 11-Tile Master Kit. After some follow-up, their Sales Manager was kind enough to bring over the kit to give its demo. I’d found their saw to be heavy to handle but it did work as intended. I’d have liked a lighter and smaller saw but I’ve just learned from a user that Rubi 12978 was easy enough for her to manage and made her wall mural-making a less strenuous process for her.
Grinder: It is used to smoothen the edges of tiles. There are wet grinders by Gryphette that are mostly used for stained glass pieces or stone grinders used for glass or ceramic tile pieces. I’m still to establish their necessity for ceramic mosaics as with practice nippers can do an acceptable job of giving usable edges to ceramic pieces.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles: Much as I’d like to believe that ceramic tiles are available in varying thicknesses in India, on my visits to tile stores, I’ve only found heavy floor tiles in 8+ mm thickness. Even handmade tiles tend to be too thick for any hand-held nippers to shape. When I do find ceramic tiles as thin as 4-8 mm, they are usually remnants of a store’s very old stock so available in just a few colors or leftover pieces. Fresh stocks of tiles tend to be in 12 mm or more thickness making them suitable only for walls or fixed structures.
With this post, I’ve covered all the essential tools needed to create mosaics per my understanding. I’ve also linked the tools above to the sites they can be purchased from. If I’ve missed any tool that you’ve found useful, do tell me. Or, if you’ve an easier source to suggest for these tools, do share the lead.
New Bombay Hardware Traders Pvt. Ltd.
Plot-107, Sector-23, Janata Market Road
Turbhe, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, 400705
Landline: +912227833331; +912227835529
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.nbhtpl.com
Contact person: Mr. Akshay Jain, GM
Somany Ceramics Ltd.
F-36, sector-6 Noida-201301
Contact person: Mr. Suresh Raina, Senior Manager, Tile Laying Division
Email: email@example.com; Mobile: +919716256317
This post is for level 2 of mosaic-making. When a mosaicist finds her vitreous glass tile color palette to be limiting her designs, using stained glass along side will increase the colors available to her. Another advantage would be that stained glass would allow cutting of bigger and varied shapes for a composition which the small size of vitreous glass tiles doesn’t permit. A bigger size, however, brings with itself the challenge of cutting and shaping stained glass, so an added set of tools is needed to manage this media.
Here’s what is needed to use stained glass for creating mosaics.
As opposed to 2×2 cm or 1″x1″ vitreous glass tiles, stained glass comes in sheet sizes of 2’x5’ or 2’x6’. It comes in transparent, semi transparent and opaque colors. As for brands, I’ve only seen Spectrum stained glass that comes from the US. It has a dealer in East of Kailash, New Delhi–Superior Float Glass–whose store I’d visited some months ago to buy small quantities of glass to experiment with. Good quality stained glass comes expensive at its price of Rs250-Rs500/sq ft so warrants practiced glass cutting and shaping skills to avoid its wastage. I’d heard of stained glass discards being stored by big glass stores which I was fortunate to find at the Superior store. While it wasn’t easy to rummage through their single gigantic wooden crate of broken, dusty discards, with the help of a worker I did extricate usable opaque glass pieces in many colors. They weighed 3 kgs and came much cheaper at Rs150/kg. In addition, I bought 8 sq ft of stained glass in different colors from their large or leftover sheets, and returned home with plenty of colors and sizes to play with. In the image on right, discards are in the purple container and are large enough to create big or small pieces for mosaic compositions. The rectangular pieces on the table came at prices between Rs250-350/sq ft.
I’ve learned of an inferior and cheaper quality of stained glass that comes from China and available with a store in Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. I still have to track down that place and product.
Glass scorers are used to create a deep enough straight or curved score on stained glass that fractures the glass along the line. The glass is then held by Running Pliers against the score and snapped along the line. Glass cutters in India have long used diamond tipped pen scorers to fracture and break all sorts of glass. Good quality pen scorers, however, come with a tiny carbide tipped wheel on their tip and have an oil reservoir in the stem to keep the wheel lubricated and moving freely. Stained glass artists use either these pen scorers or pistol grip scorers for ease of gripping them. Fortunately, oil reservoir pen scorers are easy enough to find in hardware stores in Gurgaon. This link on Amazon India shows the scorer I mean and it’ll cost less than its displayed price in a local hardware store.
These are used to hold the glass against a score and snap it neatly. It looks like this, and while it should be possible to source it locally, I got it from Amazon US.
A grozer snips off small pieces from the edge of stained glass. They may be protruding ends that need removal or intentionally snipped small pieces that are needed to fill a shape. A grozer is also used to break thin strips from stained glass that running pliers don’t help break as the narrow strip may be too close to the edge of the glass. Running pliers need enough area on the glass edge to hold it firmly. I got a grozer from Amazon US but it should be available with hardware stores here as stained glass artists use them in India.
Wheeled Mosaic Cutter
These cutters have been covered in my previous post. They continue to be immensely useful in cutting geometric or curved shapes out of strips of stained glass much like they do with vitreous glass tiles.
Also called a rubbing stone, this rough stone is available at local hardware stores to grind jagged ends of shapes cut with cutters.
I find that stained glass strips break differently from vitreous glass tiles. Cutting stained glass sees shards flying in a less controller manner than one witnesses with vitreous glass tiles. Using a grozer throws around even more tiny pieces of glass rather unpredictably. The use of simple protective eye glasses is therefore necessary. I’ve found this pair by 3M to be adequate for this purpose.
Although not a tool, it took me a while to figure out the right oil to use for glass scorers. Glass workers advise the use of kerosene oil but hardware store folks suggest turpentine oil. I’ve used latter and found it working well. One can simply dip the wheeled pen scorer into a bottle of oil, dab the extra oil on a tissue and run it on glass to create a score.
There are more tools that a mosaicist may want to own or at least want access to. I’ll cover them in a Part 3 post that will cover ceramic tiles as the media of choice.
Meanwhile, do tell me what else can be added to the range of tools covered in these 2 posts.
. Supplier of Spectrum Stained Glass:
SUPERIOR FLOAT GLASS CO. LTD
198/8 RAMESH MKT NEAR SAPNA CINEMA EAST OF KAILASH
NEW DELHI, INDIA 110065
. Glass Tool Supplier:
Mr. Sudhir Arora
Techno Trade Links
B-46, Ansal Chambers-1,
3,Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi – 110066
Tel.: 91 -11-26102729, 26170056
Per my current understanding, India doesn’t have an institute-conducted formal art course on mosaics. The country seems to have many traditional stained glass artists, and some teach as well, but glass mosaic-creation or teaching is still to gain visibility here. What I do see in parts of the country are wall murals in public spaces that are done in hammer-broken ceramic tiles but they seem to be made almost entirely by commercial tile layers, not studio artists. I once spotted this huge mural adorning the Railway station walls in the city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and surmised that its idea emerged from a government-supported program surrounding environment conservation for which tile layers specializing in ceramic murals may have been called from elsewhere in the country. In Goa too, many school or hospital walls can be seen with ceramic mosaic murals but they too are done in Opus Palladianum with randomly broken commercial tiles, not with artistically hand or machine cut tiles as studio ceramic mosaicists make them internationally.
Materials for mosaics aren’t simply available in art stores in India. Tools and media have to be sourced from hardware stores that cater to bulk purchases so for a learner or artist interested in creating mosaic objects, it becomes a challenge to source the media. This post therefore aims to demystify sources or types of essential materials and tools necessary to create mosaics by beginners.
Wheeled Mosaic Cutters or Nippers
These circular blade cutters should be the first tool to procure for composing vitreous glass tile mosaics. Per my current information, only one glass tool supplier in New Delhi, Techno Trade Links, is aware of the use of this cutter but stocks it sparingly. It sources the tool and blades from China or Italy. The company couriers the tool and blades to an address in India after receiving their payment but doesn’t always have a ready stock of good quality cutters. Once I learned of their presence, I communicated with them through a series of WhatsApp messages and managed to get hold of one cutter. A couple more learners like me did the same. On a visit to their office, however, I didn’t find any cutters in stock but managed to find a set of spare blades. I was assured that once they receive a request, they try to arrange the requested tools over 3-4 weeks. Their prices vary based on their purchases and sources.
The guaranteed source of this tool per my experience has been Amazon US (not Amazon India). After buying at least 6 tools from them, I finally know which ones work well and have listed them below in my order of preference. Even for sourcing from Amazon US, there is a problem to counter. Not all suppliers ship the listed merchandize to India. Where they don’t ship to India, I’ve had to have the cutters shipped to a friend in the US closer to their travel time to India. Where they do ship merchandize directly to India, the shipping cost and import fee end up as equal or higher than the product price. But at least this option does exist for emergency purchases of known brands of cutters and it can be exercised if there are no willing US friends to bring you mosaic cutters.
Leponitt – Doesn’t ship to India
Mosaic Mercantile – Ships to India
Gold Blatt – Ships to India
In the image above, the cutters are arranged in the order listed above. Gold Blatt is the heaviest cutter but also very dependable for balanced cuts. If one wants to be really secure about the cutters, I’d advise the purchase of all 3, and a set of spare blades from Mosaic Mercantile. This tool kit will keep the worry of blunt blades off your agenda for a long time. The blue handle cutter is from Techno Trade Links.
While one must stock toothpicks, satay sticks, ear buds (not joking) and more such useful items in one’s mosaic tool kit for various stages of mosaicking, this set of 4 metal picks (also in the image above) from Mosaic Mercantile is a comforting collection in a mosaicist’s kit. Do get hold of them when you order a mosaic cutter from Amazon US.
Alternatively, one might want to hunt out a source for a watch repairman’s tweezers that have pointed and curved tips and buy those. One of the set of 4 picks is just that and it is the most useful one in the set.
These are 2×2 cm or 1×1 inch glass tiles that come stuck to brown paper sheets or fibre nets. The main use of these tiles is to create the exterior of swimming pools or bathroom walls to keep them wipe-able, water-resistant and colorful. They come arranged on 1 sq ft sized sheets in boxes of 10 sheets of a single colour. Some sheets may come with a blend of 2 contrasting or similar colours for their intended application in pools or walls. Those available on brown paper sheets have to be kept soaked in water for 5-15 minutes for them to slide off paper sheets. They can be wiped clean of any residual glue and used to create mosaics as whole pieces or cut by mosaic cutters. The ones on nets have to be pulled off tile by tile and used as whole or shaped using mosaic cutters.
If you’re located in Gurgaon, you’re fortunate like me as you can message your requirement of tiles to the mosaicist Kanika Singh and go over to her Studio in Sector 55 to pick up your stock. She takes pains to arrange varied colors for her mosaic teaching workshops and commissioned mosaics, and sells the surplus to practicing mosaicists.
If you’re in another city of India, you’ve to visit sanitaryware and tile stores and convince them to sell you sheets of tiles in the colours you need. Chances are that the stores would only want to sell them by boxes of 10 sheets of the same colour but you may get lucky and find leftover tiles in small quantities that they have little use for and those may even come at a discount. This you can try at various sanitaryware stores and patronize those who are fast with arranging your orders.
Other than these basic implements and vitreous glass tiles, there is lots more that a mosaicist would aspire for in tools and media that I’ll go over in future posts.
Meanwhile, do tell me if you know of another dependable source of mosaic tools than those included here or know of easy sources of glass tiles used in mosaics.
. Mini Mason Studio: Ms. Kanika Singh, Sector 55, Gurgaon, Haryana, India, Email: kanika at minimason dot in, Website: http://minimason.in
. Techno Trade Links: Mr. Sudhir Arora, B-46, Ansal Chambers-1, 3,Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi – 110066, Mobile: +91-9868124610, Website: http://www.technotradelinks.com
I’ve believed in sharing useful facts and wherewithal on anything I’ve learned with determined efforts, and this new series of posts would reaffirm that compulsion :) The next few posts will be on learning to mosaic in India from scratch (or the first ‘score’). Folks researching methods and ways of creating mosaics in India should benefit from my explorations for it’s still to gain popularity as a studio art here. Little information or guidance is available on it in India as it’s mostly practiced by glass tile manufacturers or ceramic tile layers for public or commercial spaces. While some stained glass artists gravitate towards mosaics to use the available media and their attained skills of cutting glass, they do not really teach it in workshops to propagate it so the art itself has a low profile and less application here than its capability.
When I think back of its genesis in my life, this is what I recall. About 15 years ago when I’d moved to my present house, I’d got masons working on toilet floors to break some handmade turquoise ceramic tiles with a hammer and arrange them around my garden’s drains. As long as the mosaicked borders were visible, I remember the garden giving me added pleasure to watch and be around. Then, 5 years ago, I saw a mosaic metal table at someone’s sea facing apartment in Goa and was totally charmed by it. My recollection of it is that it had randomly broken coloured ceramic tiles arranged in Opus Palladianum and grouted white—a simple enough mosaic style devoid of any complex cuts or laying. I’d seen broken ceramic tile murals on Goan school or public buildings and been intrigued about them but it was only when I saw the play of hammered ceramic tiles on a functional item that I exclaimed at its beauty. The idea of getting a table mosaicked has stayed with me since then.
About a year ago, around Diwali, I saw a promotional post in a Facebook group by a practicing mosaicist in Gurgaon. She had shown her lovely mosaic coasters and bowls to invite people to buy them as also learn to create them in her orientation workshops at her home. I caught up with her and eventually found myself around her dining table converted to a mosaic work table. I’m, however, embarrassed to admit that in my 2 sessions and 4 hours there, I just moved from one piece of substrate to another (mdf coaster and trivet boards), only felt the bright and shiny vitreous glass tiles over and over in my hands, and just managed to cut some tiles in basic triangle or rectangle cuts. Any pattern I drew on paper to lay tiles ended up as overly ambitious to execute considering my basic tile cutting skills. I bowed out of that format of rushed, hour-based learning. Workshop based learning does work well for many people as they create a usable product and take it home even if they do not invest in creating a studio for future. But I wanted more. I wanted to learn all the techniques there were to know but create products in my own time and space.
A month later, when I found time and renewed resolve to reconnect with mosaics, I made enquiries and heard about another Gurgaon dweller, Kanika Singh who had begun mosaicking a year prior and fallen so much in love with the idea of it that she had chucked her job as a business development manager and moved to creating mosaics…as also teaching what she learned. I didn’t lose any time in connecting with her with a plea to let me into her workspace to assist her. She allowed me that privilege and had me cut hundreds of tiny wedges or trapeziums for a Mughal floral wall art that she was commissioned to make. Then on, 2 weeks of cutting glass for her gave me so much confidence to handle 2×2 cm vitreous glass tiles that before long I tasked myself with fairly intricate flower petals for a 10″x12″ floral composition that I labelled as My Garden (below). I’ve been on my own with cutting, learning and dreaming up designs since then but I’ve constantly returned to Kanika for her inputs to consolidate my mosaic ideas. Those based in NCR and interested in exploring mosaics may want to start by spending time in her studio. Within no time, her spontaneity and fearlessness rubs off on those working with her.
I’ve lots more to share so keep an eye on future posts here.
Meanwhile, do write and tell me if you’ve heard of mosaics before or been creating them or have any thoughts on this art.
Absolutely lots has happened since my last post and much of it has been dismal these 2 years…but I’m grateful in the realization that I still have interest in life, nature, its beings, and in learning new skills. There is much that still fascinates, intrigues or overwhelms me and I pray to God to help me keep that attitude for the rest of this life’s journey. This post is just to meditate on this point :)