How to Create a Glass Mosaic

Basic Instructions on Creating Your Own Masterpiece

In addition to being a mom, business owner and photographer, my day job is a high school art teacher. Every year in my Jewelry & Glass level 1 classes we create several replications of famous works of art using glass mosaics.

The whole process is really pretty simple...the hardest part is cutting the glass. I won't go super in-depth on all the steps now, as I'm working on a tutorial video to do just that. But hopefully this general overview will give you an idea of what it takes to make a mosaic.

Once we cover all the basics including how to cut the glass, safety, gluing the pieces, color matching, etc., we get started.

I plan ahead to figure out which paintings we want to replicate. Once I know, I'll get the dimensions and have plywood cut to the same ratio on a larger scale. Most of our mosaics average 2-3 square feet.

Generally, I'll use an old school overhead projector and transparency sheet to project and trace the images onto the boards. This allows me to adjust everything to get the image positioned just right.

Once positioned, we trace the contours (basic outline) of the painting we are replicating using a Sharpie.

At this point, the kids are ready to begin cutting and gluing down the glass. We use both stained glass panels as well as recycled glass to complete these projects. A local glass company, Kenny Glass, has very generously donated clear scrap glass to my classroom for the past few years, and we then spray paint the back to match the color we need.

From here, my students try to fill in all of the areas with a color of glass that closely matches the original color used in the painting. Sometimes this involves blending one color into another, which can be tricky with mosaic tiles versus using paint. Notice how they blended the pieces in the project below. They glue down the pieces using either Elmer's Glue or E6000. Both work equally well.

Occasionally a student will glue down the wrong piece of glass, so we have to use a flat head screwdriver and hammer to chip those pieces off. They also need to be careful not to go over the edge as these finished boards go into a frame and the edge needs to be flush.

Once the pieces are complete, we grout them using unsanded grout, which I purchase from Lowe's. The grout can be colored, which you'll notice in several of the projects pictured. We use acrylic paint to color the grout.

After the mosaic is grouted and cleaned up, we inset the board into a frame, along with a piece of plexiglass to protect the art. These finished mosaics are then added to our hallway gallery along with an info sign beside them, with details such as the original artist and year created. Check out some of the paintings my students have replicated as mosaics!

I know, my kids are awesome, right?! Are you interested in creating your own mosaic, or have you done one in the past? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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