As we said in the previous newsletter: "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." One mistake that we didn't mention is the enthusiasm that grips us and makes us just want to dive in and start our masterpiece without giving some thought to making our work of art last a lifetime or two...

The first thing that you need to think about of course is where you're going to be putting your masterpiece - will it be an indoors project or will you have it outside?


This of course brings us to the second thing we need to think about - the environmental conditions that your work will be exposed to. (This doesn't only mean the weather outdoors but the lighting conditions indoors). Will your piece be exposed to rain, harsh cold and hot, humid conditions? A mosaic piece that has been poorly prepared can start deteriorating in just a few months if exposed to moisture whether it be Cape Town rain, good old Durban humidity or Jozi frost... (or is that the other way round these days?)


As mentioned earlier, lighting conditions have a direct effect on the relationships of colour between individual tiles in a mosaic. It is vital therefore to watch and see how much light the spot where you plan to place your mosaic piece gets as this will have a huge impact on the colour choices for your piece.


There are generally three forms of natural light:

  • dim light or shade (where trees or structures may block any direct sunlight),
  • ample daylight (few trees and direct sunlight) and
  • glaring daylight (no trees or other objects to tone down the intensity of the sunlight).


When you have the answers to these questions, you should then be able to decide which materials - bases, types of tile (tesserae) and what colours - to use in your mosaic.


When selecting which materials to use, keep the following in mind:

  • Wood – this is a very poor base to use for outdoors as any form of wood will disintegrate over time - even the most well-sealed board WILL deteriorate eventually.
  • Glues - some glue cannot be used for outdoor and underwater locations.
  • Metal – metals are sensitive to freezing and thawing cycles.
  • Tiles – tiles with chalky backs may lose their glaze during freezing and thawing cycles. (low temperature fired tiles). Some fancier foiled and glitter glass tiles can't be used in direct sunlight as they will fade.


Having considered lighting conditions, please bear in mind the following:

  • Using mirrors when the lighting condition is glaring can become a problem (that house number in the morning sun?).
  • Mirrors can be effective in adding interest to the mosaic in indirect lighting conditions.
  • With less light, intense colours that have been combined may lose that vibrance and intensity without the necessary light.
  • Setting a mosaic at an angle can help take advantage of the light available.
  • Halogen lighting can create overly bright spots on tiles.
  • Vitreous glass is best viewed at angle and with a natural light source.
  • Different lighting conditions plus different angles affect the appearance and intensity of colours and images in mosaics.

By keeping these points in mind you will definitely be ensuring that your creations last a lifetime and are displayed to show them off in the best possible way... 


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