An introduction to mosaics.

Cathy Ebells

Cathy started the evening with a fascinating introduction to the world of mosaics assisted by a comprehensive slide presentation. Cathy first gave a brief history of mosaics covering over 4000 years. Earliest known mosaics consisted of cones of different coloured clay pushed point first into a backing layer. Next came the use of different sized and different coloured pebbles and this was developed to a high degree by the ancient Greeks. Later on small tiles or "tesserae" were specially manufactured in a wide range of colours and this was further enhanced by the introduction of small pieces of coloured glass known as smalti. Cathy then briefly covered the influences of the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic cultures on the evolution of mosaic design.

Next Cathy gave a brief overview of the different tools and methods for creating mosaics.

Shown below are a couple of her designs.


After the tea break and a quick rearrangement of the studio, Cathy gave a brief demonstration of the range of mosaic tiles available and the use of various tile cutting tools, some of which are shown below.


After cutting the tiles they are glued to a substrate (in this case mdf board) using PVA glue following the design which had been drawn on the substrate.


Once all the tiles have been glued in place, the grouting is applied.It is important to realise that the grouting is an integral part of the finished mosaic so the colour of the grout should be sympathetically chosen. In the demonstration using a previusly prepared design, a mid grey grout was chosen. After mixing the grout powder with water and stirring to achieve the correct consistency, it was applied with a spatula taking care to fill any air pockets between individual tiles and also covering the sides.

After a few minutes the excess grout was removed by swiping across the work with a rubber blade. This was followed by a careful wipe with a damp sponge as shown below. After the grout is dry, approx 24 hours a quick polish with a lint free cloth is all that is required to restore the lustre of the tiles.


After the demonstration, Guild members were invited to try their technique.

Altogether a different but most enjoyable evening.