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Kids Zone: Mosaic Art

Get creative with this month’s fun and sustainable activity – mosaic art. Sara Whatley explains what to do

The earliest known mosaics date back to Mesopotamia, around the 3rd millennium BCE. Ancient Greeks enjoyed making mosaic art, as did the ancient Romans, and over in the Americas, mosaic art has been found from the Maya civilization. Needless to say, this art form is very old.  

Mosaics are made from assembling coloured stone, glass, shells, pebbles or other materials into pictures. Its longevity may be due to the fact that it is very satisfying creating something ordered and beautiful out of chaos. It can be simple or complex. It can reuse materials so is environmentally friendly. It can improve dexterity and fine motor skills. It is good for building patience. But most of all, it is fun!

There are a few different methods of making mosaics, but the simplest is called the Direct Method. This is where you stick the material, called the tesserae, straight onto the base. Thick card or board is perfect for a base, but really you can use anything: jam jars, a tile, a birdbath. Just make sure you use the appropriate glue or adhesive for the surface you are sticking to.

If using card or board, you can either cut the base to your chosen shape, or draw your design on the base so there is room for a background as well.

Once you have your base, your tesserae sorted into coloured piles and your design marked out, simply start painting your base with glue or adhesive and sticking the tesserae to it. Think carefully about the gaps between each piece you stick on; do you want big gaps or small gaps? Whatever you choose, try to make them evenly spaced throughout.

Once you have finished your design you can think about grouting in the gaps between the tesserae, if you wish. Follow the instructions on your chosen grout and rub the grout into all the gaps. Wipe off any excess with a dryish sponge, let the grout dry and check if there are any holes. If so, repeat the process. Give the mosaic a good clean and polish and hey presto, your mosaic art is complete.

If you are new to mosaic art then starting with a simple design is a good idea.

Here are some simple but effective ideas:

A yellow sun in a blue sky

A red heart

A yellow smiley face

A simple flower or plant

A rainbow

A hot air balloon

For the tesserae try using these different materials or get creative and see what you can recycle into your mosaic:

Pieces of painted eggshell

Coloured tissue paper cut into squares

Small pebbles or stones  

Shells

Pieces of metal or glass (careful of sharp edges!)

Beads

 

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