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My Process and Steps to Making a Glass Mosaic Commission.

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

How I created this Glass Mosaic Commission for Peter.

Questions I get asked often are:

What is glass mosaic art? What are glass mosaics? How do you make glass or stained glass mosaics? How do you make mosaic art with broken glass?

So, here is a blog on mosaic glass art and how I make glass mosaics.

Peter LOVES his boat, his American Tug. His favourite thing is travelling around the BC Gulf Islands, visiting all the different ports. And so, I was asked to make a Glass Mosaic for him.


My Starting Place

This is the photo I received with these instructions:

  • He loves his boat.

  • It is an American Tug.

  • Please put Peter and me on the boat.

  • I don't want it at the dock.

  • Peter doesn't like bright colours.

  • We enjoy boating around the Gulf Islands.

I liked the view of the boat and thought I could definitely have Peter waving from the door, and I decided to put his girlfriend on the stern.

From there, I researched American Tugs. What does the bottom of an American Tug look like? After some time, I discovered this was a 365 model and found images on the web to better understand the design of the boat.

Creating the Boat

I created the boat focusing on where the light was coming from. That helped give the boat a 3D look.

I knew the railing would not work with glass. So I decided to use the grout lines to create the railing.

I added Peter and his lady.

At this point, I was pretty satisfied with the boat. So, I started to think about the negative space. Knowing that the ship would not be at the dock gave me a ton of freedom, and I was ready to start making some decisions. Because I used a purple/blue palette, I instinctively knew I wanted to add contrasting colours. So, back to the web, and I started looking at images of the Gulf Islands.

Finding A Background

Peter did not like bright, but I wanted to add contrast to make the mosaic more interesting. I liked the simplicity, colours, and calmness in this image. I thought the lighting was beautiful and would work with what I had already created. So I went to my glass stash and pulled cream, yellow, orange, light purple and dark brown.


Most important is where the sun is and does it work with the lighting on the boat. I built the three levels of horizon lines, including placing the trees, the island, and the mountain in the distance. I helped myself by creating pencil lines to follow for the rays of light, distance and reflection.

Building a Sky

Next, I filled the sky with the chosen glass, following the lines and pattern I had drawn.

Lastly, I did the reflection and where I believed the ripples in the water would be.

Watch the process below in my time-lapse below.

Time Lapse of Making Glass Mosaic Ripples

Glass Laid

I always enjoy this part. It feels good to look at where this mosaic is headed.

This is the last chance to make sure I like the way the glass is. Now is the last opportunity to make changes.

Also, now is the time to think about grout.


Because of the warmer tones I have used for the back and foreground, I wanted to stick to that colour scheme and use a Mapei terracotta colour grout. (The terracotta colour is no longer available and 112 Pecan is probably the closest.)

I planned to use the grout to emphasize the boat railings. To accomplish this, the best choice was to grout the boat in 103 Cobblestone.

Clean and Polish

All mosaics come to this point. I like to try and make my mosaics as safe as possible by attempting to keep the grout level flush with the glass. Sometimes I grout twice or three times. In this case, time was sensitive, so I did it once and took extra time to make sure I got it right. Because of that, I knew going I would spend more time picking and cleaning the excess grout from the glass. My favourite tools for this are a toothbrush and a bamboo skewer. Lots of time and a little elbow grease, and it was all cleaned up and ready to go!


Final Result

Overall, I liked the way this mosaic glass commission turned out. I think the boat looks like an American Tug 365. I put Peter and his girlfriend on the boat. The colour is there but not bright. The Tug is not at the dock and floating somewhere in the Gulf Islands.

For me, this mosaic accomplished the goals I strived to achieve. I followed the directions given while creating a well-thought-out and successful scene. I am proud of this commission and for making this beautifully calm, relaxing glass mosaic.


I hope this helped see into my glass mosaic process.

If you are interested in :

Having JFairWStudios make a Glass Mosaic Commission click here

Taking a JFairWStudios Glass Mosaic Workshop click here.

As always, incredibly grateful to continue learning, creating, teaching, and inspiring.

Jessica Fairweather

Artist and Instructor

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