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The best modern tile materials to make a mosaic

(4 min read) We all know that traditionally mosaic art is made of small squarish pieces of stone or glass, otherwise known as tesserae. However, times have changed and so have the ways of mosaic making. Today you can make a gorgeous mosaic artwork out of virtually anything, from candy to tech waste.

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Multicolored natural stone tesserae.

Mosaic Materials, Mosaic Murals, Mosaic Tiles Art
Natural stone and marble tesserae handmade mosaic art. Mosaic Artwork by Mosaics Lab.


Glass tesserae

Glass mosaic making started in Burma and it was traditionally used for decorative purposes and was usually studded with semi-precious stones and gems. Modern glass mosaics can be divided into three most vastly present categories: vitreous glass tesserae, clear glass tesserae, and smalti tesserae mosaic art.

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A gorgeous high-end glass mosaic art created by Angelo Fabbri. Mosaic Mural Design by Mosaics Lab.

Vitreous glass tesserae are most often used for swimming pools, showers, and bathroom backsplashes. The tesserae are vitrified, so they are textured on one side and smooth on the other. The edges of the tesserae are slightly rounded which makes them safer for use. It is the more affordable material of the two and there is a larger variety of it accessible on the market.

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Vitreous glass Sunshine mosaic art. Mosaic Artwork by Noelle Adamoschek.

Clear glass tesserae are usually used by the veteran of mosaic art, as they are more difficult to properly manipulate to make a particular optical effect. Clear glass tiles allow light to pass through either partially or diffusely and they can be both have a color or not. Clear glass tesserae come in a variety of forms, most popular of which are back-colored clear glass tiles, stained clear glass tiles, and transparent clear glass tiles.

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Tree of Life clear stained glass mosaic artwork. Mosaic Design by Anisa Sharif.

Smalti tesserae are traditionally created Italian handmade opaque glass, stained and infused with a variety of different minerals. It is the most expensive of all glass tesserae due to the minerals that are used during its formulation. These precious minerals can often include silver and even golden leaves.

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Floral smalti glass mosaic artwork by Mosaics Lab.

Marble or stone tesserae

Marble or natural stone tesserae are the most basic materials used in mosaic making. First marble and stone mosaic art can be traced back to 600 BC when it was used by the Sumerians. Natural stone was easy to source and cut with simple tools, and it was highly durable which made it perfect for creating pathways and decorating outdoor locations. One of the forms of natural stone that were vastly used for external mosaic making and didn’t require any cutting was also pebbles.

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Gorgeous detail from Pebble Mosaic Garden at Gresgarth Halls in Lancashire, UK. Mosaic artwork by Maggy Howarth Studios.

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The ocean view mosaic art is made of naturally colored marble tesserae. Mosaic Mural Artwork by Mosaics Lab.


Porcelain and ceramic tesserae

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are easily sourced and very popular among amateur mosaicists. The main difference between the two lies in the rate of water they can potentially absorb. The clay of which porcelain tiles are made is much denser and less porous, so it will absorb less than 0.5% of water than the clay used for ceramic tiles.

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Ceramic tile mosaic portrait of Frida by Eileen Mcdonough.

Alternate mosaic making materials

Alternate mosaic materials can be either natural, such as seas shells, dried legumes, wood, etc., or artificial, such as bottle caps, coins, buttons, etc. When it comes to alternate mosaic materials the list is practically endless. Some prominent modern mosaicists use eggshells, candy wrappers, photographs, and more.

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Gorgeous mosaic artwork made of buttons, beads, and doodads. Mosaic Artwork by Autumn Wilkins.

Mosaic Materials, Mosaic Murals, Mosaic Tiles Art, Ceramic Mosaic Tessearae, ceramic mosaic tiles
Rosie O’Donnell made of sweets by Jason Mecier.

This is supposed to be a pretty straight-to-the-point blog post, but it wouldn’t be MY blog post without my personal opinion on the matter. As sharp as I can be sometimes, there really isn’t much I can pitch in here, but there is one important piece of advice I’d like to give to all the upcoming mosaicists out there. Whichever material you choose, make sure it’s sustainable, because beauty and sustainability are what mosaic art future should be all about.


Mosaic tile materials and mosaic materials

Mosaic tile materials and mosaic materials

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M. Belosh

M. Belosh

Passionate art enthusiast; avid reader (you can find me on Goodreads under the same name); movie connoisseur; intolerable before my morning coffee.

38 Comments

  1. Heather
    February 25, 2022 at 12:22 pm — Reply

    They are all so beautiful. The multi-colored tiles are my favorite I think.

  2. Lyosha
    February 25, 2022 at 12:39 pm — Reply

    every option is very beautiful! I liked marble or stone tesserae the most lately. it is so incredible!

  3. Lavanda Michelle
    February 26, 2022 at 4:50 am — Reply

    Mosaics are very stunning and glamorous. I love making Mosaics with glass and beads.

  4. Rhian Westbury
    February 26, 2022 at 5:04 am — Reply

    The small glass is beautiful. Most of the mosaics I’ve seen have either been coloured glass or tiles x

  5. sambo
    February 26, 2022 at 7:49 am — Reply

    That is one jumbo mosaic tile in any mansion.

  6. Risa Lopez
    February 26, 2022 at 10:58 am — Reply

    Wow! Those different kinds of mosaics are all beautiful. I have small mosaics arts at home. Love to learn how to do it.

  7. L Y
    February 26, 2022 at 12:53 pm — Reply

    Some beautiful and interesting materials being used to make tiles. I do love the mosaic artwork made using buttons, beads, and doodads, looks so modern

  8. Christine H
    February 26, 2022 at 3:19 pm — Reply

    Yes, I think of glass or stone when think of mosaic art. I had no idea this could be done with candy or sea shells let alone bottle caps and coins. Those you have shared are truly amazing works of art. My favorite is the flamingo!

  9. sambo
    February 27, 2022 at 3:21 am — Reply

    a good collection of moasic work. I love it and always come back to mosaiclab site for more.

  10. Malaika Archer
    February 27, 2022 at 6:13 pm — Reply

    Great piece as usual. It’s incredible to see what materials can be used to make such lovely pieces. The Rosie O’Donnell piece is impressive. My kids would totally try to eat that piece.

  11. Jasmine Martin
    February 27, 2022 at 8:41 pm — Reply

    I never realized the differences in mosaic tile materials. I would love to have some of every material as a mosaic in my home.

  12. Lyosha
    February 28, 2022 at 3:20 am — Reply

    very interesting! I have never thought of different ways to make mosaics, it actually felt kind of the same to me. Thank you for letting me learn more!

  13. P.R.
    February 28, 2022 at 4:52 am — Reply

    All of these materials have fantastic end results but I am personally very attracted to ceramic, specially when colourful. Great post as usual!

  14. Sarah Stockley
    February 28, 2022 at 4:52 am — Reply

    Both the glass and the ceramic tiles look amazing. I particularly like the glass sunshine mosaic with the blue tiles.

  15. Risa Lopez
    February 28, 2022 at 11:07 am — Reply

    Thank you for sharing the materials on how to make these beautiful mosaic designs. I hope someday I can learn how to make a mosaic design as beautiful as these. I love them. They are beautiful!

  16. Talya Stone
    February 28, 2022 at 1:23 pm — Reply

    An interesting look at materials and their different qualities. They can deliver such different aesthetics can’t they?

  17. Renata Feyen
    February 28, 2022 at 3:24 pm — Reply

    I love that ocean view mosaic – it is so beautiful

  18. Heather
    February 28, 2022 at 7:41 pm — Reply

    I think the one of Rosie is my favorite. I love that it’s made out of food! So fun!

  19. Angela Williams
    February 28, 2022 at 11:16 pm — Reply

    Where do you purchase the tiny tiles for this

    • March 1, 2022 at 6:49 am — Reply

      Hi Angela, we source the tiny tiles, tesserae, directly from quarries.

  20. Melanie Edjourian
    March 1, 2022 at 3:19 am — Reply

    I think the different types of mosaic are beautiful. I didn’t think about the fact that they are made from different materials although I’d have assumed given the different environments each is exposed to.

  21. Risa Lopez
    March 1, 2022 at 12:44 pm — Reply

    Those mosaics photos really look beautiful. I want to learn how to make one, too. I’m in love with mosaic arts.

  22. Joyce K.
    March 1, 2022 at 2:22 pm — Reply

    Mosaic has such a beauty, and to see such various forms of it is amazing!!!

  23. Catherine
    March 1, 2022 at 3:00 pm — Reply

    I love how unique each piece is based on the materials used to create the artwork. Stunning selection here.

  24. Jupiter Hadley
    March 2, 2022 at 2:52 am — Reply

    The see-through glass tiles as mosaics is really beautiful! The one made of food though, that looks like so much fun to do.

  25. Rosey
    March 2, 2022 at 5:14 am — Reply

    The ocean view is my favorite this time. What a stunning piece to have in your home. What a stunning home to be able to hold that piece!

  26. Natalie
    March 2, 2022 at 10:05 am — Reply

    So cool to learn about all the different materials that can be used! I hope to one day have a mosaic tile piece in my home.

  27. Luna S
    March 2, 2022 at 10:11 am — Reply

    I always love reading the posts on your site so I can see the gorgeous art!

  28. Risa Lopez
    March 2, 2022 at 12:35 pm — Reply

    I never knew there were so many things to make a mosaic. I am watching more videos as well on how to make it.

  29. Danielle
    March 2, 2022 at 2:22 pm — Reply

    I love all of these mosaics. They’re so unique and interesting.

  30. Marjie Mare
    March 2, 2022 at 9:43 pm — Reply

    Your pieces always make me happy and I am dreaming to have one. Imagine if I could have the ocean view mosaic art in my living room.

  31. Jenjen Balatico
    March 2, 2022 at 11:59 pm — Reply

    Glass mosaics are distinct and unique on my eyes! I love all the designs.

  32. Sel T.
    March 3, 2022 at 12:50 am — Reply

    The mosaics are absolutely nice and lovely to see! The ocean view looks especially pretty for me. 🙂

  33. Angela Williams
    March 3, 2022 at 8:36 am — Reply

    These tiny delecate stones are so pretty to work with.

  34. Laura
    March 5, 2022 at 7:47 am — Reply

    Ooh so many different versions and ways to make a mosaic – I love the glass effect, so pretty

    Laura x

  35. Tiffany Sylvester
    March 7, 2022 at 1:34 am — Reply

    I love mosaics and these are all amazing pieces! Always so intricate and inspiring

  36. Risa Lopez
    March 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm — Reply

    The different kinds of mosaics are so beautiful. I love all of those pictures.

  37. Samantha Donnelly
    March 30, 2022 at 1:03 pm — Reply

    I love how each materials you use to make your mosaic, brings a totally different life to the picture.

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