Making Mosaics

All About the Glue & It’s NAUGHTY

Spacing between tesserae

Spacing between tesserae

Let’s get started! You will need some all purpose white glue. (NOT washable) Remember the post about the 3 M’s? Hopefully, you have several bottles that were about to be trashed. Someone else’s trash is our liquid treasure! Combine all the glue you have into the least number of  “glue” containers. Then, take the leftover containers and add enough water to make more glue wash. Take all the glue wash and pour that into the least number of “glue wash” containers. Feel free to label your containers, but just lifting them up will let you know if they contain glue or glue wash. Glue wash moves faster than glue. Set the empty containers aside for you to use at another time, or to recycle in another way.

Because we are doing an abstract mosaic, we will not have to draw a design onto our base. If you have chosen to do a border for your mosaic, you will do the border first. If you have chosen to do a floating background, then I would start in the center and work your way out. You will need a tiny space between your pieces for the grout. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR TESSERAE TO HANG OVER THE EDGES!!! This puts them at risk for breakage. Be sure to read the rest of the post.

Your first layer of glue is the glue wash that we discussed in a previous post. That glue wash will help make the tesserae stick to the base. Now, comes the second layer of glue. Some people will squeeze a couple of drops onto the bottom of each piece. Then, place the piece onto the base. (if you are using venetian, etc…, the ripply side gets the glue and the flat side is what you look at) I often encourage my students to start out that way. The method I prefer is to squeeze the glue, in a steady stream, onto one side at a time. Then, I will wait a few minutes and start placing the tesserae onto the glue. My patience doesn’t allow for gluing each piece…

Border pieces can be touching, but I recommend a tiny space between each. Grout is the substance that will go into the empty spaces. Grout is what holds your mosaic together.Clean up any glue that escapes from the top of your base. You can do that by taking your finger and wiping off the excess glue. Then, wipe your finger onto your brown craft paper. Save money by not using tissues, rags, etc… DO NOT ALLOW YOUR TESSERAE TO HANG OVER THE EDGES!!! This puts them at risk for breakage. When you have finished the border, set your mosaic aside for a few hours. You want the border tesserae to set before you continue. If you can’t wait, just be sure to check that all border tesserae are in their proper spaces.


Glue does not follow anyone’s rules. It goes wherever it wants. Therefore, you will be keeping an eye on your tesserae. Most likely, your tesserae will move. Keep putting them back in their proper spots. Repeat. You will have less “moving back” if you allow the glue a few minutes to set up. You will likely get glue on your hand. Don’t waste a rag, tissue, etc… Wipe your hand onto the brown craft paper.

Allow 24 hours pass before you grout.


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