A mosaic is a piece of artwork made from small pieces of glass, rocks or stone arranged to create a design. Typically, the artist uses mosaic tiles which are similar in size and shape, but making mosaics does not require the material to be uniform. A wall mosaic is simply a mosaic creation adhered to a wall. To make one, the artist gathers supplies, sketches a design, sorts the tiles, prepares the wall and attaches the tiles.
The first step is to gather supplies, including mosaic tiles, adhesive, a trowel, grout and tile mesh. Depending on the planned size of the mosaic, the artist may also need backer board and a tile cutter. The tile mesh is for stability, the trowel is to apply the adhesive and the grout is to fill in the spaces around the mosaic tiles. Grout is chosen that coordinates with the color scheme of the tiles for a cohesive look or a contrasting color to clearly define each tile.
A design is sketched on a piece of tracing paper or online software tool. The artist experiments with colors and shapes until the design is complete, then the design is transferred to the wall so the general outline of where the mosaic tiles should go is clear. If the artist is not skilled in freehand drawing, a light source and transparency may be used to project the design onto the wall where the artist can trace it.
For a wall mosaic, many tiles are needed, so the artist must plan not only the design but how many tiles to purchase. If natural stone is used, the artist may need to cut the stone into smaller shapes. The colors and shapes are then sorted so the actual process for creating the wall mosaic progresses quicker.
To prepare the wall for the mosaics, the artist may need to attach a backer board. Made of sheetrock or plywood, a backer board provides more strength to the wall so it can support the weight of many tiles. Once the backer board is in place, the artist will apply a thin coat of adhesive using a trowel. It is necessary to work quickly and in one small area at a time so the adhesive does not dry before the tiles are put in place.
Each tile is pressed into the adhesive in the predesigned pattern with a small space left between each tile where the grout will later be applied. Once all of the tiles are in place, the wall mosaic is left to dry. Depending on the specific adhesive used, it may take several hours or overnight for the adhesive to fully dry.
The grout is then applied using a tool called a float, which has a hard rubber surface that pushes the grout firmly into each crevice between the tiles. After the grout is pushed into place, the artist will wipe down the front of the tiles to remove any residue. The grout will harden overnight and once fully hardened, the wall mosaic is complete.