The “Direct Method” of making mosaics involves glueing or cementing your mosaic tiles (tesserae) directly onto the surface you are wanting to cover. This is done all in one operation, always with the bright side of the tesserae blocks uppermost and in full view. This method of making mosaics is simpler and more intuitive and therefore the best option for the beginner.

PAGE INDEX

Preparing the Surface

Glueing or Cementing the Tiles

Pros and Cons of the Direct Method

Preparing the Surface

With the “direct method” the bright side of the tesserae is always in view as you proceed and this will allow you to see the image or picture develop in front of you, so  you can make small adjustments as the work progresses. Using the direct method, you have two choices for glueing the mosaic tiles down. In both cases it is it is  preferable to first prime the backer surface with a thin bonding agent, before spreading the thicker bedding adhesive or cement. If you allow the bonding agent  to dry a little first, you can still trace a  pattern onto the primed surface to guide you, before you start glueing down the mosaic blocks.

Glueing or Cementing the Tiles

    • The easiest way of applying the glue for the novice is to dab the glue directly onto the individual mosaic blocks and then simply press them down against the (primed) surface you are covering.  The beginner will find this way much easier as the pattern remains unobscured at all times and the work can progress at a pace that suits the individual. This way of glueing is especially suited for a small initial project, such as applying the  mosaic tiles to a board for a  mosaic wall plaque as the mosaic can be worked on horizontally. Horizontal glueing is always easier, especially with cementitious glues.

 

    • The better glueing method is to apply the tile cement or glue straightaway onto the surface that you are covering. The glue is spread  in an even layer, with a notched trowel, and then you press the individual tesserae directly into the glue bed, one by one. You can also add a dab of glue to the underside of the tesserae as well and thus take absolutely no chances of failing to get a good bond. However, unless you apply just enough paste to the bed to receive only a few blocks at a time, the mosaic adhesive or cement will tend to hide any underlying mosaic pattern that you have prepared on the backing surface – leaving you without guidance. Moreover, if you spread too much glue  ahead of you, you could find yourself racing against the clock, as the glue can begin to set before you are finished.

 




Pros and Cons of the Direct Method

In any event, irrespective of the glueing procedure, the restriction of having to bed down the mosaic pieces  individually or in small groups just to  preserve the underlying pattern guide when using the direct method of mosaics can  be annoying as it can slow down the work and interrupt the creative process and it is a fairly laborious way of proceeding – especially with a mosaic project of any reasonable size. However in the hands of a true creative artist this direct technique can give spectacular results, as some artists do their best work ,without the need for any pre-drawn pattern to guide them, and use the concept that is in their head to put the tesserae directly onto the cement bed, much as a great painter puts his oils on canvas. Sadly such artists are rare and it is usually best to have a pattern to follow.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to achieve a very flat final surface using the direct method, as the mosaic pieces (tesserae) will inevitably show some variation in level. Thus the direct method is therefore more suited for small mosaic wall panels, mosaic plaques, or for the mosaic decoration of three-dimensional objects, such as flowerpots, lamp stands and vases, where a truly flat mosaic surface is not that important. It is never realy suited for floor covering and table tops. However, if a flat (plane) finish is not important, such as for a wall plaque mosaic, then the variation of the uneven tesserae surfaces has the advantage of creating  a sparkle effect, which throws the light about, adding interest and could enhance the appearance of your art work.

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The uneven surface of the  wall plaque  adds interest  

 

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