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One of the questions often asked during mosaic class, is about what tile-laying style to use. Over the years of tutoring mosaic, I find that one needs to keep a beady eye on each person's tile-laying style, so that we can keep control of the process, and spend our time together efficiently. 'Laying it down,' it seems, is directly connected with where you are at in life.

  • Pre-School: Little ones are always enchanted by the texture, colour and shape of mosaic materials. Butter up a framed mosaic section with glue, and watch them fill it. Laying attention span: about 15 minutes

  • Primary School: Once the boys have stopped trying to amuse the girls and each other, and the girls have delegated who will lay what, primary school kids settle down and create some great mosaic art. Laying attention span: about 60 minutes

  • High School: Most teenagers, it seems, fly into creating a mosaic with breathtaking abandon- and with some of them, you just have to 'go with the flow' because sometimes the reckless approach of youth produces an amazing artwork! One or two kids will sit still and 'think it through' but initially, many teens have lost the joy of focus and need to be reconnected with that. Laying attention span: about 60-90 minutes, and then a digital device and 'peer review' takes over!

  • Adults: Adults are where 'laying it down' gets truly interesting. The main conundrum, once cutting skills have been mastered, is building self-confidence and keeping the inner tyrant with it's perfectionism and self criticism, out of the studio! The other, is being disciplined, as playing with lovely, entrancing mosaic materials on the base can take up an entire class without a single tile being laid ! Laying Attention Span: 2.5 to 4 hours.


Curate and Play: Assemble your mosaic materials, practice a few cuts and lays, and play around with how you are going to lay them out on your base. Keep an eye on the time, though! It's easy to become spellbound and not even take your adhesive out your bag.

Commit: Like the fist brush stroke on a canvas, stop playing around, and commit. Start adhering your tessera to the base!

Slow and Steady: Back buttering each and every tessera and laying each one individually as a result. Although this style is sometimes necessary, don't make it your default.

Intermediate: Thinking ahead and pre-cutting your tessera. Then applying a whole bead of adhesive (in the case of a flow) and laying it, or buttering a whole section of your base, then filling it with your pre-cut tessera.

Speed up: Minimise cutting and speed up the process. Cut and lay big pieces ie: stained glass, chunky ceramic tiles, or full tile flows and patterns.

Now off you go, and finish it !

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