Thursday, May 18, 2006

Creating a Glass Bead Mosaic

By Christina VanGinkel

When I think of a mosaic, I usually think of broken pottery pieces. However, creating a mosaic is a great way to use up glass beads. Glass beads come in a variety of sizes and colors, and chances are, if you are a hobbyist of any kind, especially one that makes jewelry or uses beads for some other fashionable task, you already have tons of assorted extra beads. If not, finding ones to use will be simple. Outlets such as Fire Mountain Gems has so many glass beads, that I have been know to sit down with one of their catalogs, or log onto their website, and forget everything else for hours on end!

Creating a mosaic with beads is a great way to cover everyday objects too. Coffee cups and saucers, picture fames, even a small table or chair is a great first time project. If you choose to cover a table, or some other large item, you might wish to mix pieces of tile with the beads to speed up filling in the mosaic. If time is of no issue, then, by all means, go ahead and just use beads.

What is nice about creating a mosaic with glass beads is that you have the choice to work with a uniform size, thus allowing you to make an exact sized mosaic from an existing design. For example, when working with odd and different sized pieces of broken tile or glass, you often must work in more of a freeform fashion, still following a pattern, but you may end up with larger or narrower gaps where you will use grout. Where if the pieces that will make up the mosaic design are all uniform in size and shape, you can follow a pattern you have created in a bead program or other design format, and end up with as much or as little space between the colors, as you would like.

When working with beads, if you will be creating the mosaic on a piece such as a table, where you will be setting items on it that might potentially spill, placement of the beads should be on their sides. If the item is strictly decorative in nature, then placement will be wholly dependant on a matter of personal choice.

If you plan to break the beads in half before using them, investing in a scorer or breaker might be prudent. The cost is usually minimal, and one can be purchased oftentimes for less than ten or twenty dollars. If you do intend to use one, be sure to also invest in a pair of safety goggles, as it is too easy for an errant piece of glass to and in the eye or face area when you are going to be literally cracking hundreds, even thousands of beads.

You will also need mosaic cement or adhesive, along with grout. If you will want to color the grout, you should also pick up coloring for it. This will depend on your own particular wants and needs.

Once you have an object in mind to cover, and have gathered all of the needed supplies, prep the work surface. Depending on what it is you are covering, this might be as simple as sanding it down, so the beads will have something with a bit of grip to adhere to. If the item is a table top, you might wish to cover it with a board of some sort. Plan your design, sketching it out if need be. Start laying down your beads or bead parts, adhering them in place as you work. Once the design in completed, you will then need to go back over the project with grout. Let dry thoroughly, and if the project requires, you might wish to finish it off with a sealant.

Creating a mosaic with glass beads is a great way to cover almost any object you could imagine, and it allows you control over the size and colors of the pieces as you work. Start small, or if you are confident in what you are doing, jump right in with a bigger project. Most importantly, be creative, let your talent flow, and have fun!

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