Making Mosaics

The 3 M’s: Mosaic Terms, Materials, Money-Saving Tips

  • TERMS:

Mosaic – a picture made from pieces

Tesserae – these are the pieces (tiles, glass, gems, etc…); in craft stores, tesserae is usually near the stained glass

Nippers and Wheeled Nippers – used to cut the tesserae

Base – the tesserae are placed onto this, must be sturdy; wood is great for inside mosaics; small mosaics can have a thin                   base, but use 1/2″ or greater thickness for larger mosaics

Glue – adhesive used to stick tesserae onto base

Glue Wash – a mixture of mostly water and a bit of glue, used to coat the top of the base so tesserae will stick better

Grout – substance between the tesserae


Wood – *Look in the free or reduced bins at your home improvement store. Often, I have paid nothing or very little when the wood is small, odd-shaped or unmarked. Use your coupon at your craft store. That being said, craft stores use a lighter weight wood. Check that the wood is FLAT. Always check your local stores.

Tesserae – *Look for tesserae on clearance or 40-50% off at your craft store. Also, check with your home improvement store. Check the individual sheets of tile. I have paid rock-bottom prices just because a couple of tiles were broken. Remember, broken tiles are just right.

White Glue (not washable) – *Ask for everyone’s bottle that they plan to throw away. That extra glue is liquid treasure. Buy in bulk, on sale.

Package of small foam brushes – *I wait for the sale and buy in bulk. You will use them for your glue wash and for painting. I will reuse brushes several times.

Package of disposable plastic cups – *Buy at the best price. I will usually buy the name brand because they are more sturdy. Many of them will be reused.

Grout – *I don’t skimp on quality. I buy it at the home improvement store and it’s usually not on sale when I run out. However, it does last. Gray/silver is the color of my choice.

Nippers and Wheeled Nippers – *Use your coupon at the craft store. When I first started, I bought both kinds. Really, I just use the wheeled ones. They are my favorite tool!


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