School Mosaics & Community Mosaics

with Joshua Winer, Artist and Teacher

Starting the Work

The first step in making a mixed mosaics mural is cracking ceramic tile with a hammer. Students wear safety goggles (and gloves for younger students) and learn to make a controlled tap, to get the right sizes and shapes. Even the youngest children can do this well – and in fact, usually do most of the smashing!
Working as a Community

Mosaics are a great art form for collaborative work. There is always something to do, no matter what the age or skill level of the participant. This photo shows a wide range of people of different ages working together: a student’s grandmother, a class of kindergarteners, and two parents, all busy placing cracked ceramic tile onto a border.
The Art Teacher's Role

The art teacher and the visiting artist work together, facilitating the steps of the daily work in the classroom. Here, art teacher Sally Koehler draws on her knowledge of light and shadow to teach second graders how to blend different shades of glass tile to mosaic the shirt of a fisherman.
Cooperation and Teamwork

To create a large mosaic, many hands steadily contribute to the process over the course of several weeks. Cooperation and teamwork are inherent to this work. The act of using one’s hands in this way frees one’s minds a little too. Good conversations and strong group bonds usually happen when we make mosaics.
Individual Achievement

Detailed areas require the attention of an individual artist. Here, a middle school student in Lynn ,Massachusetts, is working on a mosaic of a dancer. She is creating this section from vitreous glass mosaic, cutting the tiles with a wheeled nipper. Safety goggles protect her eyes. Her big smile tells the story of her achievement.
Mosaic as Meditation

Art teacher Michelle Eggleston is working on cementing mosaic shards onto the grass section of the ‘Tree of Life’ mosaic. This is a long process, with many thousands of small pieces building up the overall field. Michelle is working alone afterschool. The students have left and the room is quiet. This is a peaceful, meditative moment – providing balance to the busyness of the school day.
Nipping and Clipping

Full square tiles are fine for filling in large areas, but details, and blending, and patterning all require the tiles to be cut into various sizes and shapes. Third graders and up are our glass cutters. Here, a group of middle school boys are proudly showing their work, holding the tools they’ve been mastering to cut the tiles.
Teachers Together

Teachers also enjoy participating in the mosaic projects. We often offer after school opportunities for the teachers to get some hands-on work time. This is something that is a joy for the teachers to share with each other, and also another way that they can connect with their students on this community project.
The Finishing Touches

This mosaic, The Sukkat Shalom Mosaic (The Shelter of Peace Mosaic), was created during four weeks of work in the art room, where everyone cut and placed tile, then cemented the tiles onto panels. The cleaning process followed, to remove surface cement from the tiles and joints. Here, a student is removing some extra cement from between some tiles, in preparation for grouting.
Thumbs UP!

The completion of the mosaic in the art room is always exciting. This group or middle school boys created the design drawings for this panel, then cut and placed all the glass, then cemented everything onto the panel. They loved the process and were very proud of the results.