A Bit of How-to
So, what’s going on here? Why are some parts of the mosaic glued onto fiberglass mesh, while other parts are adhered directly onto the panel?
Jesus on one mesh section, his canoe on another mesh section
Two mesh sections of clouds and sky
Cloud and tree foliage being glued onto mesh
The Jesus mesh section and the canoe mesh section are glued onto the panel. Water and river bank tesserae are then being glued onto the panel around the mesh sections.
Here’s the deal: mesh sections can be transported easily to other locations in the church to be glued with tile and glass pieces (called tesserae). A 7-foot long panel? Not so easy to transport.
The mesh sections are prepared like this: a piece of corrugated cardboard or wood is the foundation. The colored design is taped to it. A clear piece of plastic film is taped over the design. The fiberglass mesh is taped over the plastic.
People use cement mortar to glue tesserae onto the mesh. When an entire section is completed, the fiberglass is cut around the design and it is glued into mortar which has been spread on the 7-foot high panel. The mortar squishes up through the mesh and thoroughly adheres the tesserae to the substrate.
After the fiberglass sections of mosaic are glued onto the panel in the proper locations, more tesserae are glued on with cement mortar to complete the entire design. This part of the deal is done in the mosaic room.
Here is another, more specialized technique in action:
The colored drawing is taped to a table. Clear contact paper is taped over a section of the design, sticky side up. Tiny glazed ceramic tiles are stuck to the contact paper over the crowd design. An even sturdier, stickier piece of clear plastic will then be laid on the top of the tiles in order to pick them up off the contact paper. The tiles will then be transferred onto a bed of adhesive on the panel, and the background tesserae will be adhered around them.
You can see that there are jobs for those with big fingers and little patience and there are jobs for people who use precision tools and like details.