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Unread 01-06-2005, 08:33 PM   #1
John Bridge
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Rosanky, Texas
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Mosaics & Glass Tile

The original post is at: -- J.B.

I think you guys may have gotten into a little trouble here... That means that whatever I suggest can't be any worse, right?

Here is how I've managed to get a similar mosaic done. I use clear shelf liner film (the sticky kind that around here goes under the brand of Mac Tack). First tape your drawing over a good solid piece of plywood slightly larger than your artwork. You will need a second piece of plywood of the same size to help you turn the piece over later on. Then take the liner film, place it over the artwork and staple it at the edges only. The Nac Tack goes upside down (sticky side facing upwards,) but do not peel backing paper yet. Make sure that the film is bigger than your drawing by 1-2" on all sides. Now peel off the paper to expose the sticky surface.

Hint: If the mosaic is large, break it down into smaller panels; say 12"x12". Work in small scale and assemble the units later to create your full size mosaic piece.

Now you have a clear sticky surface over your drawing that you can use to start assembling your mosaic right side up. As you place the tiles, they will temporarily be held in place. If you need to remove a tile, no problem, just stick another one in its place. If the tiles are of different thickness, don't worry, we will address this later. Your only concern is to finish the job before the sticky surface dries out completely (my experience is a few days).

After the mosaic assembly is complete, take another piece of shelf liner and apply it to the surface of the tile. Carefully pat it down to catch as much of the tile surface as possible. A sponge or brush may help. Seal the edges of the exposed shelf liner to help stabilize the loose mosaic pieces. At this point you can cut or remove the staples holding down your shelf liner.

Sandwich the mosaic with the second piece of plywood and secure it so that it cannot come undone. You can use duck tape, spring clamps, etc. to hold the two pieces together. You are going to flip the entire panel over, so you need to make sure that the mosaic does not slide and fall out while you do this.

Once you flip the panel over you can gently remove the plywood and expose the underside of the mosaic. Carefully break away any staples or tape that you used to secure the film so that it does not disturb your finished work. If all goes well your mosaic will be facing upside down flat on the plywood, with all uneven surfaces facing you!

Now here comes the trickier part. You need to peel away the old shelf liner to expose the back side of the mosaic panel. The glue of the old shelf liner should have dried a bit and will detach more easily than the freshly applied liner. It is likely that the two pieces of shelf liner have stuck to each other at the edges, so carefully cut away around the edge of the film to expose only the back of the mosaic.

The next step is a matter of judgment. Your mosaic is upside down, held together by shelf liner on the good surface. You can follow standard paper faced mosaic installation methods for the final installation. Handle the mosaic sheet very gently, as the shelf liner does not hold the mosaic pieces as securely as mosaic paper and gum arabic.

A second, less conventional method is to apply fiberglass tape (wide drywall tape or even fiberglass moquito netting) to the back of the mosaic and then apply mortar so as to create a flat surface. The fiberglass tape will help keep the assembly together later on. Allow the mortar to cure until it can be gently handled (24 hours). Again use the plywood to turn the mosaic over, gently peel the shelf liner and clean away any excess mortar from the surface of your work (it should still be wet enough). Once completely cured (minimum days), your mosaic panel can be treated like a large tile that is installed with convetional thinset methods. I find this works particularly well whith 12" mosaic panels.

I think I've given away all my secrets.

Kim Hauner
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