General Info for making clay mosaics
......making decorative tiles
...More uses for mosaics
...Cutting the tiles
...Grout & bases
...Websites --some examples + uses for mosaics
Puzzle-pieced & "Pietre Dure"
Micro mosaics & temari balls
Other mosaic-like techniques
Books & software

INLAYS (hard) & Other
Patterns & ideas from other media
.......(for mosaics & inlays)


MOSAICS & other Inlays

NOTE: .for creating faux mosaics with CANES (rather than individually-laid tiles and grout),
go to Canes-Instructions > Mosaic Canes



General Info & summary..... re Making Clay Mosaics

In this section, mosaics are defined as inlaid tiles (or tesserae) which can be applied in one layer to a sheet of clay or to other items... the tiles generally cover all of the background and form a pattern of some kind..
......Tiles can be other sizes and shapes besides small and square though (many of those are discussed in lower categories)
...There are other kinds of polymer "inlay" aside from "mosaics," in which flat bits of baked clay are embedded into the suface of other clay, but these tiles often are used singly or in groups, and do not completely cover the background. (another way to think of these would be a lot of grout to a little amount of tile(s), whereas "mosaics" are a lot of tiles to a little grout)

Tiles can be any size (and any shape for some techniques).

There are several ways to create mosaic tiles:

...square or other shaped tiles can be cut from a sheet of raw clay sheets with tiny cutters (Kemper makes small ones, or aspic cutters, e.g.)
...or squares can be cut in grids by cutting with a long blade or with the tip of a blade... or simply scored in these ways before baking to be snapped apart after baking
.......or squares or other shapes can be cut freehand with an Xacto, perhaps using a pattern or template
.......some square grids can be cut or impressed with things like a french-fry cutter or tiny-ice-cube tray
...or make a log of clay (round or square, etc.), then cut many slices (as close to same thickness as possible
Then in either case, bake the pieces to harden them

....tiles can also be created from baked clay sheets of clay very flat (even weighting down with something smooth and flat), and cutting them after baking while still warm (generally with scissors --thin clay is fairly easy to cut when warm) are some tiny tiles cut from baked (regular) clay with scissors --Kim Korringa's collection, sorted by color family,del%3as,1%3af,0 (click on polymer1)
...or break or crackle the baked sheets into random-shaped small tiles or bits (perhaps by pressing down on the sheet and/or rocking with something small and hard to force it to crack in several places
....tinted baked liquid clay sheets can also be used to make tiles (baked on glass sheet, then punched out --or cut out-- and applied
........tiny regular clay or liquid clay tiles (can't tell which) onto small flat shapes of raw clay ...tinted liquid clay also used as grout (near bottom of page)

finishes... for a matte finish on the tiles, put a sheet of paper on the top side of any weight you use
....for a shiny finish, put a sheet of glass or a metal baking sheet on top of the clay sheet before baking, and then weight it (heated clay will take on the texture of any surface that's placed against in during baking... any spots that don't completely touch, however, won't be shiny)
.......Kato brand of polymer clay has a naturally somewhat-shiny finish though

Tiles don't have to be completely flat and a single color.... some other possibilities might be things like:
...stamping or texturing ... mica powders... metallic leaf... acrylic paint (sponged, stained, painted, etc.)... transfers... marbling... etc.
...these things could be done before or after baking
(see more below in making decorative tiles)

Tiles can also be re-shaped (after creating either way) by re-heating, then cutting with scissors while still warm... especially if you want specific shapes or smaller filler shapes

bases.... finished tiles can then be inlaid into a raw sheet of clay (either butted tightly together, or left slightly apart) to form the pattern
........(the base sheet of clay could be a solid color, of course.....or even something like marbled-colors or faux ivory)
...or the tiles can simply be glued onto another material such as wood, metal, cardstock, glass, etc,
........or items made from those materials like boxes, frames, switchplates, etc..
.............some ideas re where to put mosaics (not polymer mosaics mostly, but could be)

"grouts"...If the tiles are applied slightly apart, there are several ways the spaces can be treated after baking:
.....ordinary grout can be applied and wiped off in the usual way (damp wipe at end)
....a polymer grout can be made from solid, colored polymer clay, thinned with Diluent-Softener, liquid clay, or even with mineral or vegetable oil
....acrylic or oil paint alone can be applied all over and forced into the spaces, then the surface wiped clean ... or oil paint (or alcohol inks) could be mixed with liquid clay

If you've used grout, and it isn't all removed by damp wiping, when you've finished baking the mosaic piece, it (may look a bit cloudy). If that happens, you can apply a clear finish like Future floor wax or Varathane (water-washup), or you can sand the surface with wet-dry sandpaper (use it wet) in grits of 400 then 600, then buff with a t-shirt or most any fabric to bring up a shine (the longer you buff, the higher the shine generally as long as you've sanded first)

Tiles can be laid in a line or grid around a frame or wall clock, used for a flat vessel top, etc.
(....for many more ideas for tiles
, see Frames, Mirrors, Dec. Tiles > Decorative Tiles )

Tiles can also be laid onto onto small clay shapes (or shapes made from other materials)... flat or slightly dimensional
....tiny clay tiles applied onto small clay shapes (heart and heraldry shape) from baked Premo sheets (#5-6 on pasta mchine)
......they also suggest using punches (square, triangular, etc.) to cut the tiny tiles out of the baked clay sheets
......could also use liquid clay as adhesive and tinted grout (middle of page)

The indirect or reverse technique for making mosaics can also be used (esp. if you want a completely flat surface for your finished mosaic)
...draw your mosaic pattern on a piece of brown craft paper (or grocery bag?)
...glue tiles onto paper pattern face down (if there is a "right" side) using wallpaper paste, or a water-soluble white glue, or (or diluted regular white glue --2 pts water to 1 pt glue)... dry thoroughly
...apply cement like Thinset, or glue or liquid clay, etc., to the surface you want to cover
...flip entire paper-and-mosaic over, and press it (paper side up) into glue on new surface
...weight and level by laying something flat and heavy onto the paper/mosaic or hit to make sure it has good contact with glue/mortar ... thoroughly dry
...remove paper by soaking few minutes with damped sponge which will dissolve the paste or glue) ...then slowly peel paper off diagonally

(grouting can be done after finishing, or before flipping)

faux "stained glass" & "cloisonne" effects could also be "mosaics" (see Liquid Clay)
....even wire separators (instead of grout) like those used in Catherine's "mosaic" inlay sections of geometrics and landscapes
website gone)

making "decorative" tiles for use in mosaics

Polymer tiles don't have to be completely flat, or one single color ...some other possibilities could be:
.....(these things could be done before or after baking):

marbled clay... to give a marbled or just visually textured look (see Color > Marbling)

gradient blends of color(s) ... Skinner blends or discrete blends (can also be used in canes) (see Blends)

stamping or texturing, or even carving (then possibly highlighting or antiquing or backfilling with paints, metallic powders, inks, clays, etc)
(see Stamping, Textures, Powders, Paints, Inks for more)
dimensional clay tiles... made in molds or sculpted, etc., could also be used as "tiles"
(see Molds, Sculpting)

mica powders (complete coverage for "pearly" tiles... or partial coverage in other ways
....or real-metal powders (for hard-metallic tiles)
(see Powders )

acrylic paint (sponged on or stained ... also used to paint patterns on the tiles, etc.)... or oil paint (see Paint)
completely painted tiles, set as mosaics ....Laurie Mika's patterned tiles are also textured while raw..... used for tabletops... frames....a "building" for a wall plaque... tops for boxes, etc .....
lesson,1789,HGTV_3258_3709285,00.html (on making box)

metallic-leafor metallic foil (silver, copper, gold, etc)... be sure to seal leaf afterward to prevent oxidation
....these could also be crackled, and crackled areas can be further colored too (see Leaf )

mica clays (techniques like ghost impressions, cane slice sheets, etc.) (see Mica)

many translucent clay techniques (see Translucents-Glow)

glow-in-the-dark clays (see Translucents-Glow)

inclusions and fauxs:
...for granite or stone look tiles, mix inclusions (spices,herbs, glitters, etc.) into
translucent or opaque clay ....or use use purchased Granitex, or "Stone" clays
...baked p
olymer shavings and chips, or raw gratings, would make wonderful inclusions
....... or they could be mixed with thinned liquid clay (thinned to maximze tranpsarency)
...many fauxs would make beautiful tiles (ivory, jade, amber, turquoise, ... or simulations of wood or metals or glass, etc.
...lesson: Marie Segal's use of many colors of faux abalone (or could be any amorphous swirling) in mosaics on boxes, trays
...faux opal chip or "broken" turquoise polymer mosaic jewelry would be perfect solid-back bezels (cabochon settings).
......that would solve one of the bigest questions of using those scraps : " How do you get back the color that is muted because of the rough surfaces?" The liquid clay would hold the scraps together to allow for surface polishing. I think best results could be obtained from using just enough liquid clay to leave a rough, bumpy surface that could be polished down to a sheen, since it's is SO hard to sand.
......that should also leave you some cracks and "veining" to fill with acrylic paint coloring, then wipe off. Sara Jane in NC
(see Inclusions, Fauxs-many, Faux-Ivory, Faux-Turq-Wood )

transfers (whole or cut up)... also whole transfers could be cut apart, then all pieces laid back down but slightedly separated for adding grout (see Transfers)

canes ... cane slices (geometrics, images, etc.), cane-slice sheets (see Canes-Instr.)

mokume gane (see Mokume Gane)

"cracked" pattern made with 2 contrasting colors of clay
put a thicker sheet of softer clay underneath a thin sheet of harder clay (could leach, or use firmer clay)
....then run them both through the pasta machine (...should crackle the top layer). Brightpath

Debbie J has various mosaic or inlay effects made from faux (wood, ivory, stone, etc) tiles

mixing media... anything else that can be glued down can be used along with polymer tiles
...polymer tiles were used with found objects, bits of mirror, etc, in Lindly Haunani's Funky, Folk Mosaics (gone)
(see Mixing Media for many more ideas)

More Uses & Patterns for Mosaics

any surface which can be "covered" or partly covered with polymer clay is also a candidate for covering with mosaic patterns
(...for full list of things that can be covered with clay, see Covering page)

....whole tabletops can be tiled
... boxes (wood, papier mache, etc.).....or metal tins....or pencil cups
my son has made board game pieces. Sarajane
.......could also be used to make game boards themselves (see Kids > Games for some ideas)

quilt patterns, etc.
..tiles the shape of quilt block elements (patches) could be laid down in patterns into a sheet of raw clay, or on a layer of liquid clay or white glue... or could be glued onto any surface in a conventional way.
...quilt shape tiles could be cut from raw clay or baked clay sheets or baked clay gun logs:
..... raw clay... cut with long blade or blade tip or shape cutter from clay sheet (chill or rest first to keep shape)
..........see Violette's lesson on cutting diamond tiles (60 + 120°) for
"Tumbling Blocks" pattern" etc, from a raw clay sheet, baking, then snapping apart, in Cutters-Blades > Cutting Small Tiles)
........baked clay sheets .... cut tiles from thin sheets of baked clay with scissors, or punch out with shape punches
........baked clay gun logs extruded from a clay gun with disks suitable for quilt shapes... cut with blade while warm (see Clay Guns > Disks for shapes available)
....these tiles could be grouted later, or butted tightly together when laying

....Violette's various quilt block patterns, bowls, etc.... (some grouted black or gray, some butted)

Lessons (more)
(....see also above in "Gen.Info" category...)

lesson...though Chryse Laukkonen's mosaic has large areas between her strips, cutouts, etc. on eggs

Lisa Pavelka's lesson on cutting/scoring small square tiles while snugly lying on a ceramic tile... then baking and snapping apart
... she then makes a base clay sheet the color she wants her "grout"
.. ALSO, to make guidelines for correct placement of tiles on the clay base, she lays a tracing paper pattern on the raw base clay, then cuts through both layers with a pointed craft knive to mark the pattern lines on the base clay;

...(no additional grout is needed in this case).... after cutting some square tiles to fit (with scissors or knife), she places then on the base
...then flattens the tiles into the sheet further with a roller (her whole pattern "grows" a bit because each tile is pressed into the black sheet while laying)
...cut outside line of the design using a cardboard template or freehand (see below for more),,HGTV_3239_1396715,00.html

Sarah Lajoie's lesson on attaching baked tiles in a grid to a wood frame (painted black) with white glue, to create a mosaic... she uses regular grout afterward

Ann&Karen Mitchell's lessons : cover an object (lamp bottom) w/ mosaic, liquid clay is used as glue, under baked tile pieces ...lamp & tiles are then baked
.....liquid clay then used also as grout between the baked tiles:
....cut raw clay sheets of different colors into tile shapes using a blade or craft knife... cut squares, rectangles and/or triangles or blunted triangles (shapes will depend on what will fit on your surface, e.g. if it has curves, and size of tiles will vary by scale)... can be trimmed after baking with scissors if necessary
.....tiles could be first textured and treated with mica powders, metallic leaf, acrylic paint, or another item
....the liqiud clay grout can be colored, if desired, with mica powders, clay, or paint
....she has a lesson also on making a stand-alone mosaic .... it could be glued to a base, or used as a smaller onlay/applique on a mosaic sheet, by laying (baked or raw) tiles into liquid clay which is sitting on waxed paper ...then baking, and removing them to use elsewhere,1158,CRHO_project_10421,00.html (mosaic begins with Step 5 )...CAN'T FIND NEW ADDRESS

Ann Mitchell's lesson on making a transfer mosaic necklace (pendant):
...making b & w photocopy... lay sheet of med. thickness clay on small piece of waxed or other paper ... place photocopy face downon clay...brush back of photocopy with alcohol (using paintbrush)... burnish... dry.... then repeat with alcohol, but remove photocopy while still wet.
...cut around edge of transferred image exactly... cut 1/4" lines for tiles without removing the tiles (note: in the actual demo, she first made one central vertical cut, then one horizontal cut, to to center the cuts before making rest of the cuts)... bake
...cut some backing clay slightly larger (or do cutitng later)
...make vertical and horiz. indentation to act as guidelines for placing tiles.... apply layer of liquid clay ...break tiles apart in quarters, then break tiles from one quarter and place on backing clay using guidelines (leave slight gap between tiles)
...add top loop made from wire by twisting center around small rod then twisting tails around each other; trim tails to 1/4" & insert with dab of liquid clay in top of mosaic, flat ... bake
...for grout, mix (Red Russet) Pearl Ex powder in 1 teasp. of liquid clay & spread over tiles and cracks... wipe excess with paper towel... bake 10 min.
...neck ring... use 16" of memory wire (cut with heavy duty wire cutters) and make loop at one end... thread on 48 or so small beads if desired ...add jumpring to top loop and thread onto neck ring.... close other end with loop (doesn't need clasp),1789,HGTV_3352_2013767,00.htm

(see Marie Segal's lesson on making faux abalone mosaic, above in Decorative tiles)

Cutting tiles for mosaics (tesserae)

Clay tiles can be made in various ways.... (see General Info. above also):

First, it's easiest to bake the raw clay sheet on a slick surface like a ceramic tile or sheet of glass or smooth metal baking sheet, etc, to keep the clay sheet (and tiles, if you've cut them yet) perfectly flat while baking can also weight the baked, still-warm clay till it's cool to flatten it if needed
....(cutting tiles from a raw clay sheet is also easier when the sheet is fairly well "stuck down" while you're cutting)

(the thickness of the raw sheet can be any thickness you want, but should be thinner than #3-5 if you want to be able to trim the tiles into different shapes after baking with scissors, Xacto knife, or punches)

from RAW clay:

sheets of raw clay can be made any thickness before cutting (unlike baked sheets)

to cut tiles at this point (from raw clay), cut tile shapes all over the raw sheet (not touching) with shape cutters (like canape cutters, Kemper cutters, even straws for round tiles, etc) ....or use sharpened square brass tubes as cutters (to sharpen, use a fine file held at a 45 degree angle, on outside edges) NOT MOVE tiles, but do remove all excess raw clay between tiles, leaving tiles well stuck to glass
... bake tiles on glass ... pop tiles off afterward

Lisa Pavelka's lesson on cutting raw tile shapes freehand from a clay sheet laying on a ceramic tile
........she scores them... after baking, she lifts and breaks apart
........her base sheet "grows" a bit since tiles are pressed into it... cuts some tiles to fit,,HGTV_3239_1396715,00.html
...Ann & Karen Mitchell also cut their tiles freehand, but cut them in various shapes (to cover lamp base),1158,CRHO_project_10421,00.html (details above in Lessons)

...Violette's lesson on cutting diamond-shaped tiles (60 + 120°) for geometric quilt or other patterns (like "Tumbling Blocks," etc) from a raw clay sheet... then baking and snapping apart, is in Cutters-Blades > Cutting Small Tiles)
(see more on cutting tiles for quilt patterns, see just below)

plastic ice cube tray - the type with tiny squares ...roll the clay out... put the clay sheet on top of the tray, and roll over the clay with a piece of PVC pipe that is the same length as the tray is wide... one roll and I've got a slug of cut tiles! Nancy
... a metal french fry cutter
(the grid type) could work that way too
...or could use one of those just to make an impressed grid of lines to use as a guide
...(see also a lighting grid panel below in Grout)

shape punches can also be used to cut tiles from sheets of raw clay, but the sheets will need to be between two pieces of paper, or on an index card, etc., and not too soft and gooey
.... see much more in Cutters-Blades > Punches

extrusions from the noodle cutter of a pasta machine can be cut into tiles as well (use as rectangles ...or combine them for squares)
......can also use the noodle cutter to run through a thin sheet of baked clay... then cut those strands into tiles. Sarajane

extrusions from shaped disks used in a clay gun can also be cut into slices for very small squares, rectangles or triangles, etc.
also, "automatically-wrapped bullseye" extrusions would be cool tiles ...see Clay Guns >Automatically wrapped canes

"torn" clay pieces, used as mosaic tiles
....Rhea's torn sheets of faux turquoise --looks as if she's made a sheet of faux turquoise, then torn it into shapes before applying to a black base sheet).... whole mosaic sheet them made into a bowl, with inlaid gold clay(?) spiral
...tearing works best with a fairly "dry" clay... so either FimoClassic, possibly Kato, or leached clay (middle of page)

from BAKED clay

.. use strong clay brands (no Sculpey or FimoSoft --too brittle to cut smoothly after baking)
..use thin sheets of clay (less than #3 on pasta machine) or they may be too difficult to cut clay on a smooth surface as above (well adhered) --but don't score or cut tiles out
...bake ... remove clay from surface

...cut into desired shapes with scissors... a craft knife... or punches (see Cutters-Blades) when clay is warm or after cooling, whichever works best

Would it also be possible to break up sheets of baked Sculpey or the new version of FimoSoft since those clays are brittle after baking (not other brands) into irregular small tiles with a hammer like one would do with ordinary ceramic or terra cotta dishes, etc.? Diane B.

sanding ....& more cutting info

If you make a tile that's off, use an emery board to sand it where needed. We've never had trouble making the tiles fit, and we do lots of mosaic things. Sarajane

if needed, tiles can be straightened after they're placed on their backing clay, with a tool made by forming raw clay around the tip end of a pencil. Ann M.

(for more info on cutting or making tiles --including more on using punches to make tile shapes from baked or raw clay, or on using spring dividers, etc,etc.-- see Cutters-Blades > Cutting Small Tiles.. ...and also other places on that page which deal with blades and cutters)

Grout & Bases

Tiles can be placed onto bases with no grout used
...spaces may be left between them which show the base's color, more like onlays spaces may be left and the tiles placed as close together as possible
Dorothy Greynold's various mosaics (spaces & no spaces)... squares, circles, texuring
--tiles on frames, and as insets in box lids
rectangular tiles of various patterns/colors used together, grout
(see also Sheets of Pattern > Pieced... and Frames > (Irene))

base clay layer as grout... tiles pressed into base layer, but not completely level with "grout-base"
....Lisa Pavelka's lesson on cutting tiles and laying them on a black sheet of clay for "grout" (so no grout is placed in the spaces as a second step) with a pattern; hers "grows" a bit because each tile is pressed into the black sheet while laying,,HGTV_3239_1396715,00.html

or can use non-clay materials as adhesives instead of clay base (or in addition)
....apply tiles onto layer of white glue or liquid clay or acrylic paint to help tiles to stick initially
especially for covering non-clay items


Chryse's lesson on making mosaics with clay "puzzle pieces" laid on a base (a metal lid or an egg, in her case) with spaces between each, baked, then grouted with plain clay, baked again, and sanded
Kathleen F's unusual mosaic using different colored grouts randomly between the all black tiles (hearts and other shapes) (click on Details)

If you like the look of natural grout, I had great success with ivory-colored polymer clay in between the tiles, then using something to texture in between the tile to give it that rough grout-y feel. What I used was a little doo dad that you slip on your finger to pick up tiny seed beads that have gotten away from you. it's got what looks like the bottom half of velcro on it, and makes a really great texture for the unbaked clay. Bunny

For the grout I used a transparent and white clay mix - the result of misunderstanding with Rachael's reference to using ivory (big grin) I jumped in made my ivory and read your post about using pearl the next day he he.... I had drawn the design on paper 'many times' (one of my doodles) and when it came to making the design I had it all laid out in my head. I first covered the coaster base with a white sheet of PC and then started with the weed, pebbles at the bottom and then the fish. I filled the background in last and YES I used all unbaked clay.
After finishing the main design I continued to cover the outside edge of the coaster. Once done I baked the whole thing for 25 minutes approx. On removing the piece from the oven I noticed a big airbubble forming so I quickly pierced this with my needle tool and whew it went down - the needle mark wasn't going to be seen anyway because of the grout which came next.
I mixed some of my ivory mix with diluent but I didn't know how mushie to make the PC grout. I probably should have added more or I should have been more careful of how I applied the grout anyway I ended up with a mess which was made worse with the baby oil which I used to remove the excess grout... in the end I gave up baked the lot again and sanded the remaining grout off and Hay Presto here we are.
I was keen to texture the grout by because the design is so small ie the mosaic pieces are approx 3mm on average I don't think I could have textured it properly. Nina
ee Nina's fish mosaic (website gone) --gone)

I applied cane slices in rows, very symmetrically: Baked 10 minutes, then used translucent grout, applying with a leather burnishing tool (shaped like a tiny, flattish spoon). I like to as a use translucent in this way, because if any should overlap a tile, it doesn't show.

A lot of people do mosaics with baked polymer clay tiles laid onto a base, and then moosh diluent-softened clay in as the grout.
..... Instead of using the Diluent/clay mix for a base though, I would do it on a thin base layer of regular clay, and "grout" after baking.

To begin removing the excess polymer grout, a rubber squeegie (like for the shower doors or windows) works great.... even a rubber spatula or batter spoon, the side of a credit card or the back of a plastic knife
...You can wipe most of the excess grout off with an alcohol saturated cotton ball

I just made a mosaic piece with liquid clay as "grout." very well.
...I made a (fancy) tic tac toe board for my dad ....the grout between the squares is TLS, colored with black oil paint.
...liquid clay is so much easier to squirt into those tiny grooves using a needle and syringe, than to smash soft clay in there
....and also, the liquid clay leveled itself out so nicely and smoothly! Heather (website gone)

If you go to a medical supply place you can buy the syringes in various sizes from very small to huge. ...Now, for the needles, its been a while since I lived in the South Bay, but if Fry's Electronics is still around they have needles and syringes available for electronic soldering. The needles are real handy. They are short, not pointed, and screw right onto the top of the syringe. They fit the syringes from the med supply. These are real handy for squeezing "grout" between mini tiles. magicmoira

I had a thin piece of raw, patterned clay that I had used several months ago, it cracked when I went to use it again I back-filled those cracks with liquid clay --but I colored the liquid clay with gold. jayne
...looks like grout in a mosaic but also outlines the pattern shapes
... this could also be very interesting if I had used some Glow in the Dark liquid clay. jayne

I chatted up the model train expert re the grout situation (for my dollhouse floor).
....He pointed me to a 1/2 gallon milk carton size of a product called Extra Light HydroCal. This stuff is used to lay streets, etc. on the train boards, as it is light, doesn't shrink, doesn't get hot when hardening, can be carved or sanded when hard, can be colored, and is pretty cheap considering. It cost about $8.00 for a carton, enough to grout all the tile I will ever do, or for lightweight plaster-type molds, etc.
....and it air hardens with about a 45 minute working time, and a 45 minute "cure" time.
....Initial cleanup is with soap and water, and was purported to be very easy. home, I colored it with half acrylic craft paint and half water with a dab of powder ...worked great and looks great! Janey

Sarah Lajoie uses non-sand (regular) grout between her tiny tiles (lesson)

I used Golden's Extra Coarse Pumice "polymer medium" for the grout when I used very thin tiny tiles, and it worked like a dream. I applied it pretty much as you would regular grout --just globbed it on, used a rubber spatula to mash it in, wiped it off with a wet cloth. Took about 5 minutes and looked great..... they also sell a finer grain pumice medium. Lisa
...I was terrified of grouting, but I ended up using Golden brand Extra Coarse Pumice Gel, and applied like real grout. It only took minutes and it worked like a dream and looked like the real thing. obirtasil

The brand of modeling paste I have used for a design class and as grout for some pc mosaics is Liquitex. It is found in the same area as the Gel Medium and Gesso, i.e. among the painting supplies. Kat

I also saw in a craft magazine that someone had the idea of making a picture on a base, then pressing in a piece of egg crate lighting panel which is that 1 inch grid (afterward?), thus marking the clay in the grid, baking, then filling in the indentations with clay grout. Jeanette from Comox

I have a LOT of sea glass, and when I got tired of wire-wrapping it for jewelry, I made votives with it. I wrapped a soda can in foil, and used a dab of white glue to glue one piece of glass on (this is the starting point). Then I wrapped the edges with a smake of clay and added another piece. When I was done it looked like a stained glass mosaic. I baked and took the can & foil out, and rubbed off the glue mark, and I had a lovely votive. I've also done this with a larger form, and used those glass blobs that you use in aquariums or vases, and before I baked the clay, I rubbed gold powder over the clay, . . . Petunia D.

More Websites (& uses) for polymer mosaics (mostly small-tile ones)

*M.Reid’s mosaic swap
Ann S's mosaics (octopus and quilt)
Kim K's mosaic of tree, etc., using tiny diamond-shaped tiles
Peggy O's votives covered with simple mosaic tiles or (click on "Clay Art"--alphabetical order)

Hava's mosaic frame, also with mosaic background around sculpted "picture"
Japanese polymer guild's various "mosaic" techniques
polymerclaycentral ...various mosaic techniques
Kathleen F's unusual mosaics on inside and outside of bowl (one using all black tiles and various colors of grout... the other using colored heart shapes surrounded by white filler tiles and gray grout) (click on Details)
Chryse's faux abalone and faux mother-of-pearl mosaic eggs, with black grout
Tonja's mosaic of bamboo leaves with mosaic frame
Crissy's colorful mosaics (rabbit, apple, letter A)
Margaret Reid's Roman or Byzantine themed complex mosaics
Joann's animal & geometric mosaics --polymer & also some glass beads
Cherie R's geometric complex mosaic
Dayle's wider-spaced tiles, surrounding a small transfer or cane slice

Janet Farris' face and geometric complex mosaics on a mask
Arlene's complex mosaics mixing micro-and-regular mosaic pieces combined
Kim Korringa's mosaic people
*Georgia S's freestanding flower "mosaic" (bowl?), petals formed with 4 large tiles each (long triangles)
mosaic tiles used as onlay on a large gourd "vase"... freestanding tile lines & shapes, and lg.raised cap around opening covered with tiles
Lisa P's mosaic tabletop
Lisa P's mosaic framing a fireplace
Becky's overlapping circles, geometric mosaic box lids (probably tiles)
Sherry's tiny balls mosaic
fabulous "mosaics" made with leftover Mardi Gras beads (but could use any beads)
various mosaics at PCC challenge
Denita's mosaic plaques ...& birdhouses (real)
(wrong url)
Sarajane's guitar & head, etc., covered with mosaic of cane slices
*Kim Korringa’s scrap mosaic technique, lesson on strips applique, & others (inlay & onlay)
Lynne W's just a few tiles, laid in a sort of pattern...lots of grout showing
Amy's sunflower mosaic & pearly mosaic pins
(website gone)
Kathy G's several mosaics, & mosaic of mica shift tiles
NOW AT? .... (gone)
Tracie's mosaic (covered) mirror --traditional mosaic with lots of "grout" (website gone)
Denise's mosaic top for Altoid box: brown grout, small random pieces, autumn colors (website gone)
*Violette's onlay mosaics (with many balls, strings, etc.) (website gone)
faun's many mosaics, some with seed beads (website gone)
*Nina's fish mosaic (coaster) (website gone)

*Sonia King's website (click on Mosaic > Mosaic Art Gallery for many wonderful mosaics) (work of many students and others... click on others too)
*The Mosaic Man, contemporary mosaics, vessels, etc. (also click on Mosaic Gallery)
how to make ( real) tile mosaics lesson,1097,7941,00.html
non-polymer, "real" mosaics? For inspiration:
(simpler designs, geometrics)
(online mosaic magazine) Sue

Puzzle-pieced & Pietre Dure
marquetry, parquetry

Marlies' method of creating a picture from colored sheets of clay (not wood-like) which are cut from a template of various larger "puzzle-type" pieces, then joined (some are textured) . . . no grout is used (she makes this one on a CD) . . . not really "painted" though; one is a quilt pattern
...more of Marlies' "paintings" of this type:

Rachel Friedman's 2 fabulous mosaics (sailboats on the ocean)... each made with a drawn pattern as a guide
... larger boat and water created with strips of marbled or Skinner blended clay, cut to fit the pattern
....smaller boats and water created with small tiles comprising each strip
...she then auditioned 3 possible grouts for the larger piece (shown before sanding):
...... light blue clay mixed to a paste with Diluent/Softener, blue acrylic paint, and dark blue oil paint mixed with liquid clay (TLS)

I went to Italy last year and got very excited about Pietre Dure, the ancient technique that can best be described as marquetry with (sheets of) semi-precious stones. They have a mosaic museum in Florence filled with this wonderful artform - Tables that have pietre dure tops covered in conucopias, fruit, flowers, little Italianate scenes; panels of classical gods all done in the same technique; astonishingly lifelike birds etc etc. The colours are fabulous - blues are lapis lazuli, turquoise, reds are carnelian and so on... Anyway, I have spent countless hours attempting to simulate pietre dure in polymer clay and the final results are thrilling me. Sue Heaser.

...pietre dure uses larger and more shaped pieces of tile than traditional mosaic work, which combine to make pictures of plants/flowers, landscapes, etc. . . . think of pieces in a somewhat simple puzzle

One of Sue's books explains her technique on pietre dure:

Wonderful pietre dure examples, by Sue Heaser (landscape)--& Polyzine (small but visible)

reading/seeing more on this subject (Sue+others) (see also bottom of Web page) Strips In Stock

At the same site there are a lot more pics - also pietre dure, some of them from the same museum I went to: This also shows a pic of the Medici Chapel which has walls of the stuff! As to pics of my polyclay version - there is one of my early attempts on the British Polymer Clay Guild site. The little Italian scene on the left - it is about 2 inches tall. Sadly you can't see the detail too well of all the swirls and effects in the faux stone. I'll try to get more pics up soon.

Marie Segal's use of many colors of faux abalone (or could be any amorphous swirling) in mosaics on boxes, trays

I have baked a lot of sheets of clay for various applications between two ceramic tiles. It keeps the sheets completely flat, no bubbles, and, as you say, gives a glass-like surface. I usually weight the top tile with a heavy casserole dish. It gives me wonderful sheets of faux stone or simulated wood to do a form of marquetry with, among other things. The important thing is to allow about 20 minutes extra baking time to allow for the tiles heating up and for the heat to penetrate to the clay.
Another thing I do to heat up my tiles prior to baking (so as not to have to add too much additional time in the toaster oven), is to always put two "ready to bake" filled tiles on top of my toaster oven while another one is baking. When a "cooked" one is taken out, usually a waiting one is hot enough that I have to pick it up with my pliers.

{When speaking of wood... marquetry is decorative work in which elaborate patterns are formed by the insertion of pieces of material (as wood, shell, or ivory) into a wood veneer that is then applied to a surface (as of a piece of furniture)
parquetry is work in the form of usually geometrically patterned wood, laid or inlaid, especially for floors (without being a veneer?)

Both of the above use color and shading to give a 3D effect. . . .
(Intarsia is multiple levels of varying thicknesses of wood from 1/4" to 1.5" inches in the same project, to create a 3D effect. Sort of like carving, but with many pieces, not just one.) Sunny}

see also Fimobob's and others' wonderful marquetry/parquetry made with sheets of polymer clay in Faux--Turq & Wood


~I have been absorbing a great book-Designing Tessellations, by Jinny Beyer. If you have ever looked at an M.C. Escher print and wondered how he made his facinating interlocking patterns, now you can learn how! It seems so simple when someone shows the steps. Basically, you take a standard shape, like a square, and carve out a piece, then place that piece on another side of the square facing out. Now you have a basic shape that will interlock with itself! You can carve some more from another side and add that to a different side, and still have a "tile" which will interlock with itself to form bazillions of designs! The book shows detailed ways to use the same pattern, like cane slices, and put them together in 17 symmetrical ways. This may be old news to some, but for me it was a great revelation! I got into this because I have been translating quilt patterns into clay... I was amazed at how many different designs could be made with the same basic block or "tile". Crafty Fox

Micro Mosaics

Mosaics can also be created wtih tiny tiles
... Squiggy's pins are made from regular shaped tiles, just very very small (grout was translucent clay)

Cynthia Toops' technique of arranging tiny, baked mosaic threads into raw clay to make pictures
.... she uses no grout, only clay base underneath, and her threads very close together
Toops and Adams explantion and mosaics, etc. (her technique was inspired by 18th-Century Italian micro mosaics, as well as the elaborate work of Mexico's Huichol Indians, who embed seed beads in hot wax) . . she uses a pin to scratch a design into the soft unbaked clay. Then, with a pair of tweezers, she sets each thread in position and tamps it down.)
...In an article about her in Bead and Button, Cynthia Toops said when she was making mosaics, she'd prebake her threads, and have her supplies packed and go to the coffee shop to work…Guerilla clay! Faun (gone)
Toops & Dan Adams -regular mosaics and thread mosaics
Mary Jo’s micromosaics (Coffee & Blue Lady) (gone)
Yang Yang's micro mosaic (gone)
Arlene's micro-and-regular mosaic pieces (gone)
Kim Korringa's African mask with onlaid strips cut into shapes for facial features (could be micromosaics though) (gone)
Violette's threads mixed with other onlay pieces for mosaic (website gone)
Trina's filigree threads used somewhat as mosaic fill (this technique uses thicker ropes, and would be better for the time- or patience-challenged!) (website gone)

Kim K's mosaic using tiny diamond-shaped tiles

*Lori G's fabulous slightly larger micro-mosaic masks... with cane slices too (gone)
It's a smiliar idea as Cynthia Toops (micro mosaic), whose work has been an inspiration but the "micro" pieces are probably 3 times the size of her little threads...which is still tiny. I'd say each little individual strip is about 3/8" x 1/16", maybe a little thinner. The masks are about 2-1/4" x 1-1/2" and are all 'wired' to be a pendant. Laura Liska's work and Sarah Shrivers blending techniques have also been great inspirations. Lori

"micromosaics" can refer also to mosaics made in the traditional way but
.....with very tiny squares or rectangles of microtesserae
... or each tile can be it's own shape (such as petals and leaves)
.... or they can be combined (often with single repeated shapes creating the background areas)
some non-polymer micromosaics

(some molas have a similar look which could be created using this technique? . . . e.g. some have lots of short lines, others have the traditional cut-away layering --see Onlay for more on molas)

(for temari balls --very thin strands wrapped around a base ball shape in geometric patterns-- see Clay Guns > Weaving,etc.)

temari balls ... a Japanese technique in which thin strands of different colors are wrapped around a base ball shape, resulting in geometric patterns
some real temari balls : ...
---seems to me there could be various ways to simulate these using clay:
...could actually wrap base balls with thin extrusions from a clay gun (using Flex clay if you needed to).
...or create "tiles" to replicate the sections instead:
......could use actual clay gun strands---a quickie way would be to fold a strand back and forth on a backing sheet of clay... then cut out whatever shapes you need from the sheet (the folded ends wouldn't be included). ...repeat for all the other colors... then put all the pieces together puzzle style like we do mosaic tiles (some Balinese Filigree methods could work here too).
... see spirella or string art for a 2-D version, in Mixing Media > Spirella

...another way to approximate thse would be to create the puzzle pieces from a cane that's finely layered to look like strands (see Canes-Instr.> Stripes, and also Folded Canes on that page)
...or you could simulate the patterns with non-cane puzzle pieces of clay which just simulate the look of strands (or don't look like strands if you just want to create the general feel of a temari pattern..). way to do this would be to create a clay sheet for each color of the ball by texturing a sheet of clay with an object with fine lines on it, then cutting out your pieces. Diane B.
...maybe make a kaleidoscope cane .... could also do it by making marks on a base shape and tiling in each with the same pattern. Lysle

Other Mosaic-Like techniques

Jeannine's inlaid (food processor?) crumbs of clay forming design elements in a relief mosaic (sky, sea)|
Miriam's unusual "mosaic" of woman's bust, outline filled in with spiral canes, rolled-up noodles, and features
Carol Z's use of various mosaic tiles and bits in some parts of mask
Rhea's spiral of gold clay (?), inlaid into "torn" turquoise bowl
Ed's Egyptian partly mosaic, winged scarab (pendant)

(see also below in Patterns & Ideas from other Media)

Books & software

(for these books, look at, etc.)

Polymer Clay Mosaics, book by Sue Heaser (2003)
..great book about all kinds of mosaic tile techniques with polymer clay ...beginning and advanced
.....all kinds of regular mosaics, miniature mosaics for pendants, pietre dure for book covers, pebble mosaics for picture frames, tile mosaic table tops, etc.

Polymer Clay Mosaics, book (of the same name! but) by Krista Wells (2004)
...another good book on mosaics, with maybe more small mosaic pieces ...includes jewelry, mirror decorations, house signs, coasters, tabletops, garden items, etc.

Mixed Media Mosaics, book by Laurie Mika (2007)
...using polymer-clay tiles & traditional mosaic tiles (to make boxes, tables, jewelry, etc)
...textured/stamped, painted, glazed, embedded with beads/buttons/found objects, coloring clay with mica powders/leaf, etc., making molds...various alternatives for grouting ...also ideas for creating meaningful or themed helpful mosaics, personalizing with words, personal items, etc.

ALSO... software for designing mosaic patterns ...(includes ability to create a mosaic from your drawing or other image)


(other kinds of hard inlays besides mosaics)

Desiree's lesson on impressing inlays into faux ivory
Tory Hughes’ carved/inlaid into ivory (Vol.2), also onlay (Vol.9)
Dayle's inlaid cut-up cane slices?, inlaid on faux ivory minibook pendant, & other inlays
Emi's lesson on faux ivory and also example of inlaid cane slices,face, etc.,1789,HGTV_3236_2251543,00.html
Helen P's inlaid chips of faux turquoise, coral, etc., pressed into faux ivory pieces
Debbie Jackson's inlaid chips of faux wood or rock (shades of dark yellowish or reddish brown) with dark brown grout or background, in pendant
Paulo's faux stones with inlaid bits of turquoise, coral, etc., along with impressions and antiquing (gone)
Bunny's inlaid chips (website gone)
Judith Skinner’s turquoise, jade, coral, ivory, mosaic (sort of bargello), etc.
(...see more on inlaid chips, etc., in Faux-Ivory > Inlay and in Mosaics&Inlay)

Squiggy’s (time-consuming but beautiful) inlay method (could adapt for something easier?)

Cut shapes with Kemper or other tiny cutters from raw clay sheets--bakery supply stores, etc. -- bake them to harden, and press into other clay (plain clay or something like marbled colors or faux ivory --see Ivory for embedded chips).
....if you want to prebake a bunch of Kemper cutter shapes to use as inlays, etc., just press a sheet of clay onto a smooth tile and punch away.... then peel the excess clay off, and bake the whole tile with the shapes on it. Works great. Bean
Or use sheets of baked clay (marbled, or whatever) and cut with scissors (plain or fancy-edged ones) or punch out shapes with hole or other punches.

Potential inlay shapes can also be cut out or punched out of baked sheets of liquid clay (see Liquid Clay > Faux Enameling > On Glass for more)
You can inset a punched-out shape made from liquid clay into a ...raw bead . . . carefully put the cut out shape on it, making certain no air bubbles were trapped... then and gently rolled it around a bit, making sure it was stuck on the bead fairly securely....then I baked the bead, let it cool and glazed it. Pamela

Bob's lesson in Polyzine on using a cutter to make a thin inlay to place into a raw clay background (same cutter used to remove clay from background)
Bob's beautiful geometric faux wood inlays
Sally's inlaid & impressed palm tree (larger piece, in background)
(website gone)

I stamped the (top of the?) slab first, then inlaid really thin pieces of baked clay by simply smushing them into the edge of the slab. I cut off any "flashing" then baked the whole thing.... The inlays seem to adhere pretty well, but I put a coat of Future on it after antiquing to help. Pat Edmonds

I am trying to make a black clay cover (for the top of an altoid tin) with one single ...(baked?) cane slice in the middle of it. When I put the cane slice on the conditioned black clay and roll it through the pasta machine, it comes out with a very noticeable seam all the way around the cane slice...tried rubbing it out with my finger, melting it out with diluent, and covering over it with is not working! mooie

polymer inlays in WOOD:
Cynthia Tinapple's bowls and drum with inlays (several bowls, one with Balinese Filigree clay pattern) (+ lesson) (with inlay of "dot slice" from clay gun) (drum)
...Cynthia's stairs with inlaid raw polymer along the edge (short, border, "railing")... cured with heat gun
Cynthia put a strip of textured clay on her DH's 4' tall poplar chest, between drawers (also added clay handles)
Bonnie Bishoff's disks of patterned baked clay into the top of a wooden stool ... and a wood chair back and

Try inlaying wire (spiral, etc...could be left alone or could be hammered flat)

...or inlaying many short pieces of wire like micromosaics? (would need superglue or LS? If the wire is not tiny, sand back of it for tooth before gluing. DB

Catherine's wire separators for inlays (website gone)

Desiree's inlays ... wire and brass escutcheon pins, etc..

Donna Kato's inset (more than inlaid) metal pieces, etc., in depressed pendant "windows" ("canoes & kayaks")

real rocks embedded in gray faux mortar used as frame around a miniature "fairy door" by FairyWings (or could use faux rocks)

(see above in Mosaics for ideas on materials to use to make chips/shapes)

plastic onlays ...using and baking them
... inexpensive plastic "gems" may be okay baked with the clay, but some won't be okay
...(bakable materials like real glass rhinestones or metal items would be fine though )
......if plastic gems and pieces are pushed in far enough so that a little clay comes up around them, a glue (like liquid clay) probably won't be needed
......different types of plastic have different distortion or melting points, depending on the type of plastic they are... and some may also change color with sufficient heat
......Lauri says
some acrylic plastic ones can get cloudy when baked
......chances of problems can be reduced by instead pressing into the clay to create an indention of the exact size needed (removing), then gluing them back into the clay in after baking
......various types of glue will work... most superglues should be fine as long as there is an exact and tight fit ... 2-part epoxy glues would work well... white glues made for jewels and metal like Beacon's Gem Tac or Jewel-It should be fine... (any regular permanent white glue would probably work fine for things which are in impressions like this
too) ... a dab of a silicone glue like E6000 will be strong enough but any that shows can turn yellowish over time (and Lauri says: some glues like E6000 can "crackle" the silver backing on some cheap glass stones)
...plastic shards from prerecorded CD Roms are safe in the clay (at least up to 250°)
.......CD Rom shards used for making pins, covered with UTEE and heated (Sally) -- lessons (more on CD's and their shards in Covering > Plastics < CDs and in Onlay > CD Shards)

previously baked clay slices or bits used as onlays can be onlaid and baked on raw or baked clay, but it's better to use some kind of glue or liquid clay if the items won't be mechanically held on by any of the clay ...(see Glues)
.....these may be baked in place along with the clay (if they're pushed in far enough you probably won't need glue too, but if you want, a tiny dab of liquid clay on the metal back before insertion would hold even better)

Flattened "Inlay" using raw clay slices into sheets

You can also use unbaked clay strips, bits, etc., to "inlay" into raw clay. There are other examples of this elsewhere on this site (e.g. twisted mica ropes, etc., in Mica), but here is one example of doing this:

Deb's Altoid boxes covered with base and strips of various patterned clays


--see much more on this technique in Carving ... also Dockyard micro carving tools and linoleum cutters which can carve into the clay

backfill: many small marks were pressed into raw clay with various tools (to make shapes like long, thin,triangles—or any shape, baked, then backfilled with a white "grout" made from Premo mixed with diluent and rebaked. Julia’s grouted tool marks (backfilled) (website gone)

Alison Ingham's faux mosaic? technique using colored powders (painted carefully into?) impressed areas before gold powder used?

Kellie's backfilled lines and squiggles, sometimes clay colors added after carving, but before next carve, to keep separate (doodle box)

PATTERNS & IDEAS from other media
(for mosaics & inlays)

There are lots of other places to get patterns for traditional mosaics..... or for using mosaic bits, tiles or beads ... or other materials:

Beadies, etc. ... pony beads or smaller beads woven together (plastic lacing, thin wire, etc.) to create a flat image or pattern (hundreds of free patterns on all topics)

see many patterns in Mosaics
...I have (many old beads) I pulled out all the flat, and somewhat-flat, beads to make a random mosaic tabletop. obirtasil

Perler Beads ... heat-sensitive plastic beads which are placed onto a shaped background plastic base sheet (like a star)... then the beads are placed over each of the tiny upraised spikes on the base in the colors indicated on the pattern sheet
...the top surface of the beads are then ironed (under silicone paper), and their sides fuse enough to hold them together... remove from plastic base (click on Galleries)

Grove and Grove's faux mosaic technique created mostly by impressing and/or texturing long clay ropes repeatedly, so they resemble a "line of tiles" as they are laid on a base sheet
... they also overlap their clay shapes which also creates an sort-of illusion of mosaic (fish)
...something similar is done on some Balinese Filigree ropes... perpendicular lines are impressed along the rope, creating a line of "tiny tiles"
... or a circular "stamp" like a ballpoint pen part are impressed along the rope which looks more like a line of small round beads (see Clay Gun > Balinese Filigree)

Kathy G's butterflies made with and surrounded by Balinese Filigree (circular and folded elements from a clay gun) (website gone)
This technique could be used w
ith any kind of mosaic patterns too by filling in outlined areas with folded ropes, or spirals formed in squares/triangles/etc., or meandering ropes.

Could a faux-broken-eggshells mosaic effect be created by placing a thin, dome-shaped sheet of baked clay on top of a sheet of raw clay... then be broken into many pieces by pressing down firmly on them?? ...leaving spaces between the unevenly broken "tiles" in the raw clay (which acts as a grout)?... this might work especially well with the brittle clays like the Sculpey's. Diane B.

pewter shapes inlaid . . . .the pewter is a thin sheeting (obtainable from craft shops - it's used for embossing 'tinwork'). I make the shapes using a shape punch normally for paper - the metal is thin enough to do no harm ...This cabochon was roughly shaped out of black Fimo. ...Several small section flower cane slices were added to the surface
.... Then the metal shape was placed into a cab mould ...and the clay pressed in afterwards (the metal (bends and) takes on the curve of the cab surface quite well). ...The whole piece was then baked as usual (pewter's melting point is a good 100C degrees higher).. . .
...surface embossings to the metal - like wing-veins etc - can be done when the piece is cool.
...Then the metal is fixed firmly into place using superglue, epoxy or the whole cab covered with a thick coat of spirit varnish - which holds the metal in place too. Alan

Small stone chips can be bought in bead areas (many seem to be brown or faux turquoise) and inlaid into clay or ivory, etc.

MORE places to find PATTERNS
... counted crosstitch
... dots-of-fabric-paint technique for sweatshirts (name?)
(see also Mixing Media > Seed Beads for many ideas)

Bargello ...(for more on bargello, see Onlay > Bargello)
...Jan's quilt-like bargello patterns, made with tiles on a base (no grout)...she uses square tiles (some solid, some marbled or patterns) and snugs them together

quilt patterns (see Canes-Instr. > Quilt)

(see also:
for CANED mosaics, Cutters-Blades and Frames/Mirrors/Tiles for making tiles,
Liquid Sculpey
for cloissone, Faux--Many
for pietre-dure faux stone, Faux Ivory, Faux Turquoise & Wood, Inclusions, & Onlay