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When an artist thinks of mosaic they instantly think of tesserae. The definition of this peculiar word is small pieces that are used in the creation of mosaics. These small items can make a mosaic great or can ruin a project that you have worked hard to complete. To make sure that you choosewhat is best for your piece, you need to know about the different types of tesserae.


Broken china is probably the most popular tesserae. The name for it is pique assiette, which means broken china mosaic. It is a good beginner material since it is so readily available. Broken china can be made from those chipped plates that you have in your cabinet or the wonderful vintage pieces that you find at a local garage sale.

Caution should be used with pieces that will be outside. Some of the appliqués on the china will tend to fade in the hot sun. Also some china may not be suitable for exterior use. It must be frost proof or it will break with the next freeze.

The great thing about china is that you can cut these pieces to any size or shape that you need. Dishes tend to be thicker so they may be harder to break. A hammer is a good  Cheap Pandora Jewelry way to smash plates into workable pieces. Thin set mortar is the best adhesive because you can build it up so that your china pieces will be even on the surface.


Found objects are a great tesserae because of their ease in finding. These can include anything that can be glued. For example, you might use vintage beads and buttons, salt shakers, paper weights, candy dishes, cork, marbles, glass bottles, and doll figurines. Look through your junk drawers and you will surely find many things to use in your next mosaic.

Adhesives need to be chosen carefully for the findings. You can use  Pandora Necklaces  thin set mortar on almost anything but preparation may be necessary. If you are using glass paperweights or marbles, you will need to lightly sand the back so that it will adhere better. Cork will need to be sealed so that it won't soak up the water from your thin set.

Be attentive to the environment where you place finished pieces. For instance, you don't want to put vintage beads out in the weather since they may become brittle and break easily. Just use a little common sense and you won't ruin your next project with found objects.


Vitreous glass is a tesserae that comes in the form of tiles and is an affordable option with a large color palette. Each tile has a consistent color throughout and most have a speckled surface. Some colors will be translucent while others are opaque. There are several brand names where you can find this tile. Just do a  Cheap Pandora Bracelets quick search on the internet to find many suppliers.

Vitreous tile comes in one of four ways when purchased; face mounted on paper, face mounted on tile tape, back mounted on mesh, and loose. You will want to remove the tiles from the mounted surface before using them in your mosaic. These tiles come in typically two sizes; ?" and 3/8" and can be used in any area including outdoors.

The best way to cut this glass is by using a pair of wheeled cutters. You will find that this glass will shatter somewhat. Always wear protective eyewear to keep shards out of your eyes.

Vitreous tile is ribbed on the back so that the adhesive can catch better. You can use any type of adhesive but if using thin set mortar make sure to use a latex additive instead of water when mixing. The latex additive gives the thin set more strength to hold this nonporous material.


Smalti is another type of glass that comes in thousands of different colors including  Pandora Charms Cheap  metallics and iridescents. Smalti is considered the finest of tesserae available. This glass gives off the same look as a painted picture. The surface has some bubbles and the color can vary among each piece. This is indicative of smalti.

Smalti is hand cut so every piece is a irregular but average about ?" rectangles. Italian and Mexican smalti are available. These come loose and are generally sold by the pound. There is also Smalto. It is the same as smalti except it is pressed into molds. These can be used inside or outside but are not recommended for floors or anywhere that someone might brush up against it. This is because of the uneven surface. Someone may get cut when touching it.

Any adhesive will work and often smalti pieces are not grouted. Instead the pieces are laid to where they touch and leave no grout joint. You can also use a self grouting method. Smalti can be cut using wheeled cutters or the traditional hammer and hardy method.


Because there are so many colors to choose from, stained glass is becoming a very popular tesserae to use. You can do precise cuts from full sheets or just find some scraps at a stained glass store. The color palette is vast because each sheet can have varying colors. You can also find this in a shimmering diochroic or iridescent look.

Stained glass can be used anywhere except on floors. This material is too thin to hold up well and it tends to scuff easily. If you are using transparent stained glass be sure to use a silicone adhesive or PVA glue that dries clear. You also have to be careful not to let your design from underneath show through when using transparent glass.

Use a tile scorer to cut full sheets down to useable pieces or to cut out intricate designs. Wheeled cutters can then be used to nip the smaller pieces. Basic nippers do not work well since the material is so thin.


Millefiori is Italian handmade glass tesserae. It literally means a thousand flowers. Pandora Silver Beads These pieces are handmade to form glass rods and are hand cut into workable pieces. Millefiori is costly but worth it if used in the right project. Typically these pieces are round but can also be found in triangles and rectangles. They can vary from 5 mm in diameter to 22 mm. It can be used indoor and outdoor but shouldn't be used on floors because of the varying thickness.


Glass gems and shapes are popular as well. The glass gems are flat backed glass globs that can be found in just about any color, translucent or opaque, and even iridescent. Glass shapes can be found in many designs such as stars, moons, sea life, hearts, etc. The sizes vary greatly. There are many places online and locally that you can buy these glass gems.

Any adhesive can be used but the backs should be roughed up with sand paper before being used with thin set. These shapes are thick enough to be used on flooring just make sure that they are even with the surrounding surface.


Porcelain and ceramic tiles can be found in many shades. There are glazed and unglazed tiles as well. Porcelain is the best for mosaics since the water absorption rate is much lower and they are perfect for exterior installations. When looking to use ceramic tiles, make sure to inquire whether or not it is frost proof. There are many brands for the glazed and unglazed tiles. Search online for a wide variety of retailers.

Wheeled cutters are perfect for cutting porcelain but many mosaic artists prefer the old fashioned hammer method. This will give you rough edges which give a mosaic character.

You will also be able to find many ceramic shapes. These range from leaves to hearts to bugs. You can also special order tiles that have your signature on them. This is a great way to autograph your work.


Marble is how some of the first mosaics were made. It is very durable and last forever. You can find it in tumbled form or polished. The color palette is limited to naturally occurring shades.

Because marble is so durable it is perfect for exterior usage and will hold up well on a floor. It is also very difficult to cut. You can use a hammer and hardy or a wet saw. When you buy marble it will come in rods, small squares, or large sheets. You can then cut them to your needs.


There are many other types of glass available to use in mosaic. There are metallic swirled glass tiles, and iridescent tiles. Check with the supplier as to how these will hold up in exterior uses and what types of adhesives to use.

Basically anything can be tesserae for mosaics. Try mixing more than one type together to create a beautiful new piece of art. Different items will give you a good variety of textures and depths.

Tammy Wise has been creating mosaic art for over 8 years. She has been published in major glass magazines and has done mosaic commission work for businesses. Tammy currently owns her own mosaic business in Owasso, Oklahoma. Tile Shack Mosaic Supplies ships superior products all over the world

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