DIY Mosaic Art

Mosaic art uses small pieces of colored glass, stone or any other material to create a design.  The art form dates back several thousand of years and is still used in decorative arts and interior design.  Mosaics involve directly gluing individual pieces, known as tesserae, onto a  surface. It is well suited to surfaces that have a three-dimensional quality, such as vases, as well as two-dimensional surfaces such as floors and walls.

Mosaics can also be created using an indirect method, which you may have seen in tiled backsplashes.  The tesserae is attached to a backing to be applied as a whole to a surface, usually a larger area, such as a wall.

You can create a custom work of art to be used in your home, incorporating colors and textures that you pick to slip seamlessly into your design scheme. 

Try a simple tabletop to get the feel of working with mosaics. What to use:

  • Any tabletop of any surface – glass or wood - use an existing tabletop or a even a board to create one.
  • Adhesive – usually a mastic available at any hardware or craft store
  • Unsanded Grout
  • Tesserae

Choosing Materials

What to use for the tesserae?  Since we’re antique lovers, we love to buy broken dishes at auctions to use for mosaics – super cheap since no one else wants them – Blue Willow is an old blue and white pattern extremely popular in mosaics, anything will do.  There are also glass tiles for a more modern look.  You can purchase groupings of mosaics offered on Ebay for really reasonable prices.

Prepare the Base

If using a wood table top, sand the wood slightly.  If using glass, apply a thin layer of the adhesive – you don’t want to apply the pieces to a very smooth surface, you want the surface to have some texture for them to adhere.  Apply the tesserae by working from the center to outside.  You can place any old way, in a design or randomly.  When applying, use a dab of the mastic on the back of the tesserae and press on the table.  Don’t use so much mastic that it oozes out.


Allow to dry for at least 8-10 hours.  Mix the grout according to the directions – grout comes in different colors for different looks, or you can use white.  Spread the grout in sections, pressing into the ‘cracks’ filling all the holes.  Scrape off the larger pieces of grout that may have gotten on the tesserae.  The less grout on the tesserae, the less you’ll have to wipe off later. 

Allow the grout to dry for several hours.  If any edges are sharp or too rough, use a metal file to file them down like you would a fingernail – there are large files available for under $7 at any hardware store. 

Clean off with a damp towel – and Voila! The tabletop can be used outside if you use an appropriate grout.  Beware – mosaic art can be addictive!  Don't overuse it in a room, One or two pieces are plenty for mosaic artwork.