Mosaic making can be an absorbing passion – so much so that beginner mosaic artists often fall into the trap of making some of common mistakes.


If you find yourself making any of these mistakes, simply correct your technique – because mosaic making, like anything else you do, requires continual practice. There are loads of more experienced mosaic artists around who will be more than happy to help. One place to look for help and inspiration is the Mosaic Association of South Africa (MASA) - click on their logo below to check out their site...


Here are some of the common mistakes in mosaic making:

1. The size of the individual tiles (tessera) has an effect on other tiles (tesserae) in the mosaic. If some pieces are out of scale and do not provide enough aesthetic value to the overall mosaic project, these odd tesserae may stand out and detract from the overall beauty of your project.

2. The position of the odd pieces can also draw a spectator’s eyes to the wrong places in the mosaic. Your tesserae (tiles) should always support the flow of the entire mosaic piece.

3. Using triangular shapes can also unbalance a mosaic so use these with extra care. Don't bring  triangular shapes together in such a way that they create odd star-shaped designs here and there. The eye is drawn to these and will disrupt the flow of your work.

4. When grouting, many beginner mosaic artists feel that they need to fill in wider gaps in the grout with small tile chips. Avoid falling into this trap. If the pieces are not in your original layout, and vary in size considerably from the adjacent tiles, there is no reason to add them now. No mosaic is perfect.

There will always be inconsistencies and small imperfections. However, these imperfections somehow seem to disappear as the entire artwork projects itself to the beholder. Wide grout lines don't matter – but irregular pieces of tile could be jarring to the eye.

One way of ensuring that the intended texture of the mosaic will emerge is by leaving enough space in between the tesserae for the grout. Negative spaces are also important in mosaics – never attempt to get rid of them completely. Instead, learn how to control the spaces in between the tiles. In addition to this, master how to use grout properly and efficiently. (This will be explored later).

As a beginning mosaic artist, it would also be good if you learned how to simplify your designs. There are several reasons for this. First, the more detailed and complex a design is, the longer it will take for you to complete it and being completely realistic, a month-long mosaic project that requires at least 1,000 tiles can drain the enthusiasm out of anyone who has just begun. Learn to take it easy on yourself – use designs that are relatively easy to finish. Outlines of figures and simple mosaics are a great way to draw out your creativity. When you have mastered these, slowly move on to more complicated and challenging designs.


 - our thanks to Rafael Aldaine for her input.


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