Against my better judgement I set my mosaic in mortar, to find out what that involves, and because I’d like to bring it to Bible study Wednesday and the mortar has to set for 24 hrs before grouting. This was pre-mixed mortar, with a lovely whipped constancy. There is, however, a hitch. First, one is, in some ways, laying out the design blindly. Not nearly so blindly as one method I heard of, where one sets the tiles upside-down and then presses grout onto them — but, still, it’s difficult to see, to meddle and tinker. Thus, though the halo is very nice I don’t like the face as much. Perhaps it would be better if I had prayed more….? Anyway…
Rough draft, second part (mortaring tiles to board)
I had the design all laid out on a board: if I were teaching this I would photocopy a pattern and the students would lay out their design directly on the pattern. Then I put a fairly this layer of mortar on another board with a bit of cardboard; it’s a good idea to put down the top third first and then go down, I suspect, because it was drying out by the time I got to the bottom, and I was spreading more with my fingers and a plastic spoon.
When you begin adding tiles start from the outer top corners, and work your way down and in. This will preserve symmetry without having to measure marks on the board. For the cross in the halo it’s a good idea to work from the center out for the same reason, and mark the center.
Setting the tiles this way is very helpful for having a nice symmetrical design, but it has its drawbacks as well. Specifically, it will constrain the face area very much, which could be a problem later on.
Once the halo is mostly in — you may wish to not finish the bottom until some of the hair is in — begin setting the head, also working your way in and across symmetrically.
It was at this point I noticed that I didn’t like the face so well as I had when I could ignore the joins in the halo — I think I had pushed some of the halo tiles nearly off the board to get just a tiny bit more face area. Perhaps this would be a problem, however, if I were designing within a printed pattern?
So there it is: not terrible, but not fantastic either. I hope grout helps a bit.