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Oct 15, 2013

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Tips for Creating Glass Mosaics with your Students

I was like a kid in a candy shop when I was able to review some mosaic glass mosaic products from Ed Hoy’s.  It was complete with essential tools, choices for the mosaic base, a HUGE variety of glass (which I’m sure concerned the delivery man – shuffling around and all), and even an example lesson plan by Jennifer Kunsch, which helped guide me through my own exploration.  I can only imagine the excitement our art students would feel at the site of all the beautifully colored glass, how we would use it, and all the possible patterns and designs that could be created!  Think of all the possibilities, such as mosaics throughout history, symmetry, abstract design, tesselations, AND the Davis Publications Art curriculum even already has lessons with standards about mosaics!

Because orderliness is my way of life, I (of course) sorted the glass into containers based on color.  This not only appeased me, but it seems it would be extremely beneficial in our art room settings, not only find colors easier, but a lot safer than digging through a large box of mixed glass for the perfect piece and color.

Eggers AOE Mosaic

My finished piece

Creating a glass mosaic in the classroom is an excellent vehicle for revisiting and working through the 5 step creative process in art.  It is essential for students to plan, begin to create, revise, add finishing touches, and share and reflect throughout the mosaic process.  It communicates our enduring goal for every project we do: the necessity of planning, and reiterates the importance of working through the creation process as the driving force throughout the project. As our students would start to create, each piece would be found or cut to fit together like a puzzle in order to complete the image, but revision and problem solving would be necessary, before finishing touches (like glue and grout) could be added.  Then as with any project or creative process, reflection and sharing become essential to growth as an artist and furthering the critical thinking process.

Below is my mosaic project done in the iMotion app for iPad (It’s not perfect!  But it was a stupendous learning process!):

I was provided some helpful hints by Ed Hoys, and in the process of creating the mosaic, have added my own when considering a mosaic or glass project in my art room.  I do encourage you to explore the mosaic creation process yourself (not only is it FUN, but it also helps to be considering your students and unique tips you may need to communicate), OR find a tutorial class on glass cutting and handling basics.  I know Glazed Expressions in Des Moines offers a glass studio, in addition to pottery painting and canvas sessions – seeking out a similar business in your area would help break the ice (or glass!) ha!

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 11.12.26 AM

Some Notes on Safety

Safety does concern me as an elementary art teacher, and I feel I would have to choose my upper elementary classes cautiously (5th or 6th), based on their own sense of caution, safety, and responsibility.  But I know my kids would rise to the responsibility, in order to create with such novelty materials.  Just think of how this involved process would impact them in a positive way that challenges, requires them to flow through the 5 step creative process, and grow as artists both mentally and physically through manipulation of tools and materials many may not have used before.  In my mind, that’s what the arts are all about.

Some other quick safety tips -

You can roll the pieces of glass in a coffee can or tumbler to dull the edges for easier pick up. To prevent the glass pieces from getting everywhere during the process, you can have students hold the glass nipper down or break the glass inside a towel or container. Safety glasses are a must!

 

Have you worked with glass or mosaics in your classroom? What Age Group and Project? 

What have you found to be the most safe and efficient practices for using glass in the art room?

 

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  • deb

    I did a 5 by 3 foot glass and stone mosaic mural with my 6th graders several years ago. It hangs in our school lobby. The inspiration comes from the fact that our school is just steps from Castle Island/Fort Independence where a sea serpent was was sighted and reported by soldiers around 1818. Sixth grade students all created a design and the we chose our favorite parts to include in the mural. We used concrete board, that I cut into 1 foot squares, and working in pairs they completed their sections that were then assembled onto a plywood base for hanging.
    The tiles came in 5 pound assortments so K2 and grade 1 were very enthusiastic that they got to help by sorting the tiles by color. The students found it hard to nip the tiles but by working with the 3/8 inch sized I was able to run around and nip as needed.
    We are actually in the beginning stages of planning another mosaic mural, this time to grace our school yard. With architecture as a theme we hoping to double our size for this one.

    • Alecia Eggers

      Very cool! I bet they LOVE the mystery of the sea serpent!

  • marilynpeters

    I completed mosaic projects earlier this year with my AP Studio Art students. The 2D students completed a flat piece on glass windows and the 3D students constructed boxes from discarded CD jewel cases and created a mosaic design on the sides. One student took a discarded light fixture, added a base and mosaic design on the outer walls and created a lovely bowl. One student work won an award at the State Art Educators Fall Conference. Our local recycling center donated glass that had already been rolled so the edges were pretty smooth. I provided students saftey goggles and gloves when approproctae. Old windows had been donated earlier so we utilized those windows as the base for the 2D projects. I collected interesting glass pieces that had chipped, cracked or broken so there was little output for the projects. I did purchase some glass tiles and some glass cutting tools. Using tools made for cutting the glass also helped improve safety. Above all supervision is key when handling glass.

    • Alecia Eggers

      So many possibilities! Thanks for the tips Marilyn!

  • Elizabeth

    I would love to try glass in my kiln. The kids love clay, and the magic of glazes. I think glass fusing/ and or mosaics would be a great next step. Sometimes specialty items like glass are tough on a budget, but I think whenever we can, we should expose our kids to them. There is something about a new technique, or medium, that just gets their attention, and they can’t wait to experiment – neither can I for that matter.

  • allison

    Yes! I had a local mosaic artist (one i worked with when i was in 7th grade!) come to my school to work with my students! they designed it and created it themselves and now it will hang in the front entrance of our school FOREVER :) it was very rewarding but also stressful so if you choose to do one, be very prepared. I wrote 3 grants and got PTO funding for the rest of the cost of the mosaic – $5,000 total. My next goal…have the kids make the mosaic tiles themselves!

    • Alecia Eggers

      Wow! Go you with the grants! Sounds very involved, I bet it looks beautiful in the front entrance though! How big was it?

  • Diane Koch

    I used to teach a unit on stained glass to 6-8 graders where they designed a piece, cut the glass and soldered it. Of course we had a lot of breakage but mamma pack rat doesn’t throw anything away. After saving glass pieces for a few semesters I had plywood panels cut to about 10″x10″ and we did mosaics on them. I already had the glass cutters and running pliers so that was not a problem. I did try to make 3-D mosaics on old jars so they could be used as candle holders but was less successful with that project. I am going to start up a glass studio at my current High School and will be recycling the broken pieces again.

    • Alecia Eggers

      Haha “mamma pack rat” – saving pays off!

  • Samantha Salenger

    My partner teacher and I have been dreaming of purchasing a glass fusing oven for 3 years. I would be thrilled to win this set and then demand one of my school!:-) I love mosaic, and what an amazing way to teach it to kids.

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