What are Glass Mosaics?
Glass Mosaics are mosaics which use real glass, instead of the standard ceramic tiles or china fragments often found in more traditional mosaic works. Mosaic artists love the variety of glass colors, the affordability of glass and even the versatility of glass. If you ever visit a stained glass store, you’ll find a rainbow of color choices, textures, and designs – and usually there’s a scrap box where you can get some already broken peices for a steal. When thinking about using glass for your mosaic, it’s important to remember that most glass is somewhat transparent, so if you are going to put a piece of mostly clear glass onto an object, and the adhesive or the underlying base isn’t something you want the viewer to see through the transparent glass – then you either need to alter the base, or choose a glass that is opaque. If you choose to paint clear glass to make it opaque, just be sure to attached the painted side to your object, and leave the unscratchable clear side exposed. In other cases – you want the see-through affect. If you have, say painted the object underneath a bright blue, and then apply clear or mostly clear light colored glass pieces on top using an adhesive that dries clear, then you can create an visually striking look, with some depth, as the eye travels through the glass to the surface below.
Glass on glass is another great idea. For example, you could buy a 2×2′ pain of clear glass and have it cut into 1×2′ rectangles. Then you could use an adhesive that works with glass on glass and dries clear and put a design made of different colored but mostly transparent glass pieces on one side, drill a small hole near the top, and then hang them as sun catchers in your window. Because the light will go through your window glass, the rectangle glass and the glued on colored glass design, imagine how beautiful the reflection will be when it catches the sun light. Another super easy glass on glass project involes any old juice glass you might have in your cabinet and pick up for .50 cents at a garage sale. Again, using silicon glue, you can apply transparent pieces to the outside of the glass, then grout with a dark color. Then put a candle inside and the candle light will shine through the transparent glass parts, but not through the opaque grouted portions, casting delightful plays of light and shadow in your room. Or you can paint your glass or buy opaque glass that doesn’t let light through, and then you can use these pieces as you would other opaque materials. Mirror glass comes in many colors and has an amazing ability to create some magic in your mosaic design. Some mosaic objects are made entirely of broken mirror and when located near water or in sunlight have a breath taking impact. Oddly enough, one common mosaic material known as vitreous ‘glass’ tiles, which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever been to the mosaic section of an arts and crafts store, really isn’t a material used in glass mosaics. Instead, we picture real glass, such as window glass, broken bottles, pieces of mirrored glass, grandma’s depression glass punch bowl, and especially the whole stable of stained glass as the primary tessarae for a glass mosaic. If you have an old, broken mirror, instead of throwing it away, it may be a good idea to consider making a unique glass mosaic out of it instead. Just be sure to be careful when handling broken glass, and have enough material, or at least of pretty good idea of the size of your project.
It is always a good idea, when making a glass mosaic, or any kind of mosaic for that matter, to draw out your idea before you start your project, this way you will know how much glass, or material will be needed before you start your project. Also, you should have a pretty good concept of how glass breaks before you start. Visit your stained glass store and invest in a quality glass cutter. Breaking glass without first scoring a line to show where the break should occur, will greatly frustate you. One of the great things about using glass is the cutting versatility. It’s a good idea to get some instructions and a little practice while you are in the store, and then practice, practice, practice your cuts on scrap pieces of glass – before you try your skills on the expensive pieces.
Just remember a few safety tips when cutting glass. Always wear safety glasses. Always work in an area where animals and children aren’t likely to walk and pick up tiny shards. Always be careful when picking up your glass pieces. Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from pieces of glass. Clean up your workspace carefully and frequently, and avoid eating or drinking in your workspace (glass doesn’t do a body good!)