glass mosaic tile art studio of william j enslen jr
Let's learn to make a glass mosaic tile backsplash using the Direct-Indirect mosaic method.  (My ebook, Mosaic Pieces: Essentials for Beginner and Professional Mosaic Artists,
explains in detail with illustrations the standard mosaic methods, such as Direct, Indirect, and Direct-Indirect.)  Let me inspire and guide you with simple step-by-step
instructions that demonstrate the basics from drawing your mosaic design to hanging the finished mosaic on the wall.  It's easy!  You can do it.  Yes, you can!

Don't forget to read the free sample chapters from my ebook for more valuable information that you need to know about this wonderful art form.
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Page 1
Figure 1.  Fiberglass Mesh Grid Size
The Direct-Indirect Mosaic Method

This technique is sometimes called the "Double Direct Method" and uses fiberglass mesh.  On one hand, it's like the Direct Method because you apply each
piece of tessera right-side up, but onto mesh instead of the base material.  On the other hand, it's like the Indirect Method because you apply the
tesserae at your workshop and then take the finished mesh sheets to the installation site.  This allows you to break the mosaic into sections, complete
each section at your workshop, and then take the sections to the job site for quick installation.

Fiberglass mesh is like the mesh used for pre-mounted mosaic bathroom tile.  Most good online mosaic supply stores offer mesh that's about one yard
wide, typically $0.50 per foot (so, a 12"x36" piece of mesh costs about $1.50).  The grid spacing is small enough to accept small pieces of tessera (see
Figure 1).
Avoid working with mesh sheets too big because they get heavy and bulky as you adhere the tesserae.  Depending on
your pattern, try to limit the size of each sheet to two square-feet.  If two square-feet is too bulky or heavy for you to
handle comfortably, then limit the sheet size to about one square-foot as your design permits.

The following steps describe the basic process for using the Direct-Indirect Method with mesh for a kitchen backsplash.  
The process varies depending on your design, application, size, and other factors, so use the process simply as a guide.  
Although my backsplash area is greater than 2 square-feet, I used a single piece of mesh because I could still easily
handle it alone.

Let's start by summarizing each step in the process.  Then, we'll look at the details for accomplishing each step.
Summarized steps:

  1. Determine the backsplash dimensions.
  2. Outline the backsplash area.
  3. Draw the mosaic pattern.
  4. Secure the pattern to a flat work surface.
  5. Cover the pattern with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  6. Cover the plastic wrap with mesh.
  7. Measure, cut, and apply the tesserae.
  8. Remove the pattern and plastic wrap.
  9. Cut off the excess mesh.
  10. Apply adhesive to the wall.
  11. Apply the mosaic to the adhesive.
  12. Remove excess adhesive from the grout spaces.
  13. Grout the mosaic.
  14. Stand back and admire how wonderful your finished mosaic looks!

Step 1: Determine the Backsplash Dimensions

Draw a simple sketch of the backsplash wall and write down the dimensions, including around windows, electric outlets, and other interferences.  Even if
you don’t think you need them, it’s usually best to record the dimensions before starting because something always happens where you wish you had.

Step 2: Outline the Backsplash Area

If the backsplash wall is a rectangle with square angles and without interferences, then simply measure the backsplash area, return to your workspace,
measure and outline the backsplash area on paper, and then draw your image on the paper.  However, if the backsplash wall has interferences, then it’s
best to trace the outline of the backsplash area.

In this example, the backsplash area looks like a normal rectangle (see Figure 2), but I don’t trust any type of construction to be square (even my own).  I
used tape to hold paper over the backsplash area and then I traced the outline of the area.  This resulted in a perfectly sized outline on paper.  See Figure
2 for the actual backsplash area, and Figure 3 for the outline on paper.
Figure 2.  Backsplash Area between the Stove and Microwave
Notice in Figure 2 that I prepped the backsplash area by installing a border using 2"x6" ceramic bullnose cut down to 1.25".  The 2-inch width was too
wide so I cut 3/4-inch off each tile using a wet tile saw.  I cut the straight side leaving the rounded bullnose side intact, and then installed the tile with the
bullnose toward the mosaic.  The ceramic tile is 1/4-inch thick; whereas, the stained glass mosaic is only
1/8-inch thick.  The rounded bullnose allows me to make a grout line that transitions smoothly between the ceramic tiles and stained glass.  If I had
reversed the ceramic tiles and installed them with the straight cut edges toward the mosaic, the grout transition from the 1/4-inch ceramic down to the
1/8-inch stained glass would have been much less subtle.
Figure 3.  Perfectly Sized Outline of the Backsplash Area
Figure 3 shows the backsplash area on paper, which I made by taping together six pieces of plain paper (notice the tape's reflection in the figure).  After
tracing the backsplash area's outline using a pencil, I used a black felt-tip pen and ruler to thicken the line so it's easier to see.  The two pencil lines at the
bottom-third of the outline that angle down from the center represent the area concealed by the stove.  The stove top is actually about two inches above
those angled lines, but the stove doesn't butt directly against the wall, which creates a visible area of the wall below the stove top.  Therefore, these two
guide lines define the areas where the mosaic must be perfect (because it will be seen) and where it can be less than perfect (because it won't be seen).  I
decided to build the mosaic several inches below the visible area in the event that stoves in the future are designed a bit shorter than today.
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Copyright © 2008-2013 by William J. Enslen, Jr.  All rights reserved.
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