Free Guide to Making Stained Glass Mosaics
Brought to you by Cole Farms, Inc.

Guide to Making Stained Glass Mosaics

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The following instructions are a step-by-step guide to creating mosaics using stained glass. These steps can be applied to any mosaic project.

This guide was designed for the beginner stained glass artisan with minimal stained glass experience. Readers who are familiar with stained glass work may want to skip certain sections dealing with elementary issues.

If you have never tried mosaic work you will find it very enjoyable. It can be as easy or as difficult as you wish depending upon the project you choose. Every mosaic piece you create will not only be beautiful but completely unique as well. No two mosaic pieces are alike and you are limited only by your own creativity. Good luck and remember to have fun.

Mosaic Tools

Glass Cutter
Cutters can be purchased with or without an oil reservoir. Cutting heads are replaceable.

Running Pliers
Running Pliers derive their name from their unique curved jaw design which separates scored glass with incredible ease. Position the jaws at the end of the score line and squeeze. The curved jaw exerts equal pressure on each side of the glass score until the glass breaks cleanly. Great for stained glass.

Glass Nippers
This spring-loaded, carbide wheel cutter is specifically designed for glass mosaic work. Using two cutting wheels, one that applies pressure from above and another from below, it's great for making geometric shapes.

Tile Cutter
This professional grade cutter with tile separator is essential for scoring, cutting and snapping ceramic tile up to 6" square and 1/4" thick. The tungsten carbide cutting wheel provides precision scores.

Tile Nippers
A unique, spring loaded cutter specifically designed for mosaic work. Applies pressure from above and below, and quickly nips tile into geometric shapes. A great time-saver for the mosaic art enthusiast.

Plastic Flexible Spreader
Used to spread your mosaic adhesive as well as spread grout. These can be found in the auto body section of Walmart or K Mart or in a hardware store.

Scrub Sponge
Used to scrub excess grout off of your stained glass and tile pieces. Last step in the mosaic process. Available in the grocery store or Walmart.

Please note that of the above listed tools, all you have to have are glass cutters, running pliers, mosaic cutters, a flexible plastic spreader and a scrub sponge. If you are using precut glass pieces like those included in this kit you only need the spreader and the scrub sponge.

Mosaic Components

Recommended Mosaic Adhesives/Glues

Surebonder FPC 9000
Weldbond glue
ProBond Adhesive
Elmers Glue All

Colored Grouts

You can either purchase mosaic grout at a stained glass or hardware store or you can mix your own from scratch.

Making your own colored Grout

If you currently make your own stepping stone cement using our formula then you already have the basic ingredients for mosaic grout. The formula for colored grout is as follows:

White Portland Cement
Fine white sand
Acrylic Admixture (available at hardware stores)
Powdered or liquid cement color

Mix 1 part white Portland cement with 2 parts fine white sand. Stir in acrylic admixture in place of water. Once your mix is about the consistency of thick pancake batter, mix in color a little at a time until the desired color is achieved. Remember that red, yellow and blue can be mixed in different ratios to create almost any color.

Stained Glass

Last but not least is your stained glass. You can purchase stained glass at any stained glass supply store or at the Hobby Lobby. If none is available in your area you can order it over the internet. Another alternative is to buy clear glass, paint it with glass paint and then cut it into mosaic pieces.

The precut glass pieces provided with this kit should be enough for at least one small project.


The process of making mosaics is actually very simple and consists of just a few simple steps. These steps are as follows:

1. Pre-planning your project
2. Choosing your design
3. Laying out your design
4. Cutting your mosaic pieces
5. Gluing down your glass
6. Applying grout to your project
7. Removing excess grout & cleaning up

As you can see, the first three steps involve planning and layout. This is for a good reason in that the quality of your work will be determined by the amount of time you take planning your project.

Pre-planning your project

You will first need to decide what you are going to apply your mosaic glass to. This object is referred to as the project surface. It can be almost anything that is solid and that glass will adhere to. Flat surfaces are easiest to work with but rounded surfaces can be used as well. Beginners should start with something simple such as a solid pot holder or a stepping stone. Once you are experienced you can apply mosaic glass to stepping stones, bird baths, garden benches, mail boxes, picture frames, clocks, front porches, walls, floors, pool steps, border stones, bird houses, bricks, and many, many other surfaces.

Choosing your design

As with any work of art you must first decide what design or pattern you are going to use. Almost any stained glass pattern will work for mosaics and there are thousands of patterns to choose from. Included with this kit are 250 free patterns on three diskettes.

You also have the choice of drawing your own pattern on a piece of paper or drawing a pattern directly on the project surface. In any event, using a pattern will give you better results as far as the look of your finished product and will make it easier to place your mosaic pieces.

If you choose to use what we call the freestyle or random layout method, you should at least use a picture or drawing of the design you are trying to create as a reference.

Laying out your design

There are two methods of mosaic application, direct and indirect. Both are outlined below and each method has its advantages.

Direct Method - The direct method involves tracing or drawing the pattern onto the project surface and then gluing the pieces onto that surface using mosaic glue.

If the project surface is flat then carbon paper can be used. First take a piece of carbon paper and lay it onto the project surface. Then take your pattern and lay it over the carbon paper. Using a pencil, trace the pattern onto the project surface. If necessary, when you are done, take a marker and go over the carbon outline until it is clearly visible

If the surface is such that the pattern cannot be transferred with carbon paper then the pattern must be drawn by hand onto the surface. If possible use a ruler or flexible tape measure.

For example, if you were laying out an irregular shaped flower pot or vase and were planning a simple side by side tile design you would take a ruler and draw grid lines every inch or so as a guide. If you were going to integrate a 3" x 3" rose pattern in your design you would use a pattern and carbon paper for that portion.

The direct method is used for horizontal surfaces and is nice in that once the pattern is traced onto the project surface you can glue one piece at a time taking all the time you need.

Freestyle or random placement is only recommended on very small pieces where the design is simple. Whenever possible, especially on intricate designs, use a pattern.

Indirect Method - The indirect method utilizes clear contact paper which is laid over the pattern with the sticky side up. The glass pieces are pressed onto the contact paper using the underlying pattern as a guide. When laying out your design, make sure you leave a 1/8 inch gap between pieces for your grout.

This method is useful for vertical surfaces like walls. Since the pieces are attached to the contact paper they can be glued vertically without pieces slipping. The disadvantage to this method is that all the pieces will be applied at the same time which is a little tricky.

Applying the glass using this method is discussed below.

Cutting your mosaic pieces

To create your glass mosaic pieces you will first create a long glass strip and then cut that strip into squares using either a glass cutter and breaking pliers or mosaic cutting pliers. Once you have your glass strip cut the mosaic cutters are the easiest to use to produce the final glass shapes for your project. Using the mosaic cutter you can turn a strip of glass into squares, rectangles and triangles in a matter of seconds.

To make a glass strip you will first mark the glass piece using a ruler and a glass marker. You can make the strip any width you desire. Once the glass is marked you will score it. If you perfer, use your ruler as a straight edge for fast and consistant score lines.

Scoring your glass: Standing in a comfortable position, hold the cutter like you would a pencil and keep it perpendicular to the glass. Starting at the edge of the glass closest to you, place your cutter head on the glass approximately 1/8" away from the edge. Apply light, even pressure to the cutter. Guide the head across the surface of the glass on the inside edge of your traced line and off to the other side of the glass. One even score is all it takes; don't rescore over your line or move your cutter back and forth while scoring. This will result in a bad breaking score and it will also chip the wheel of your cutter.

Look at your score line. Are there small flakes of glass popping up from the score line? If so, you are applying too much pressure on the cutter. With your next score, lighten up a little bit. Are you unable to see where your score line is? Not enough pressure is being applied, so try again pushing down a little harder. A white score line is called a dry score. If this happens, add oil to your cutter.

After scoring your glass, you will need to break it. There are two ways you can achieve this when cutting a narrow strip. You may use running pliers, or breaker/grozer pliers. Always remember to break each score line right away before making the next score. The fastest way to wear our your cutting wheel is by scoring over other score lines.

Breaking glass with running pliers: Hold the glass with score side up. Position the pliers at the beginning of the score and match up the line on the top of the pliers with the score. Tighten the screw until it touches the lower jaws of the pliers, then loosen the screw a 1/4 turn. Gently squeeze the running pliers to run the score. If the score only runs part of the way, you can turn the glass and repeat the process from the other end.

Breaking glass with breaker/grozers: Hold your glass in the hand that won't be holding the pliers. (If you are right handed, hold the glass in your left hand or vice versa.) Form a fist with your thumb on the top of the glass and your fist under it. Your knuckles should be adjacent to the score line. Position the breaker/grozers (with the flat jaw on top) directly across from your knuckles and parallel to the score line. Hold the glass firmly and apply even pressure while snapping up and away. This is the same motion used in breaking glass with your hands.

If your score breaks unevenly, clean up the ragged edges with breaker/grozer pliers. With the flat jaw facing up, grasp small pieces with the pliers and snap them off. If the pieces are too small, hold the pliers at a 90 degree angle to the edge of the glass and drag the serrated jaw of the pliers across the edge. If you still have jagged edges on the glass, you can use a glass grinder to shape and smooth these edges. Continue to score and break all of your pattern pieces.

After cutting your strip of glass you can make your mosaic pieces using one of two methods.

You can score the strip into squares or triangles or rectangles and break them using the method above.


You can purchase mosaic cutters and cut the strip into pieces more quickly. To use the cutters you simply place the cutter over the glass with the glass sitting between the two wheels and squeeze the cutter handles.

Gluing down your glass

Direct Method - There are several different types of glue that can be used for mosaics. (several are listed in the materials section above) The glue you use should be compatible with glass, should be waterproof when dry, and should dry clear so that it won't show through the glass and so that it won't cover up your pattern lines when first applied. For horizontal surfaces it is not necessary for the glue to dry fast but in more vertical applications a faster drying glue is a must.

Using a glue spreading tool, apply a layer of Mosaic Adhesive onto the project surface. (TIP: Be careful not to over apply your glue. If you fill in the areas between the pieces with glue there will be no room for your grout.) Carefully place your mosaic pieces onto the project surface making sure to leave a 1/8 inch gap between pieces. Firmly press each piece in place. Work within a small area at a time for best results. Once all the pieces are in place allow the adhesive to fully set before proceeding. Once the pieces are set you are ready to go on to the next step.

Indirect Method - This method is useful when applying mosaics to vertical surfaces like walls. For this type of application it is best to use a fast drying glue. When the glass is in place on the contact paper the mosaic adhesive is applied to the project surface as well as the glass pieces. Carefully pick up the contact paper which now holds the glass and gently apply it to the project surface. Press the pieces in place and let the glue set for 5-6 hours. Since the contact paper holds the design together it is easier to get the glass to adhere as one design. On vertical surfaces the edges of the contact paper can be taped down to keep the design from sliding.

Applying Grout to your project

Mix up a batch of grout and using a grout applicator tool, spread it onto the tiles. (TIP: Auto body repair stores carry a great selection of spreading tools that are perfect for spreading grout.) Work the grout into the crevices until the grout is smooth and level with the tile surface. After using the spreader a paint brush can be used to work the grout thoroughly into all the crevices.

Removing excess Grout and cleaning up

After the grout has partially dried, wipe off the excess with a damp scrub sponge. When the grout has thoroughly dried, polish the tile surface with a damp paper towel or sponge until tiles are shiny and free of grout residue.

Congratulations! You're ready to use and admire your new mosaic masterpiece.

Steve Cole



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