Making Mosaic Letters from Beads

26 May.,2023


Glass Seed Beads in the 3.7mm size can be strung on short pieces of wire to make letters, numerals, and symbols in mosaic artwork.

Step #1. Find Wire

Any variety of metal wire can be used, but copper taken from stranded electrical wire is the easiest to find and use:

Making Mosaic Letters from Glass Beads, step 1

Step #2. String Beads

String the beads on short pieces of the wire with ends of the wire bent at an angle or kink to keep the beads from coming off the wire. I am making the letter “A,” and so I need two strips of equal length plus one shorter strip:

Making Mosaic Letters from Glass Beads, step 2

Step #3. Position Bead Strands

Position the different strands of beads on your backer with the kinks at the ends turned down so that they won’t show above the grout. Here I am using sticky contact paper as a temporary surface. You could also glue the stands to the backer directly if that is how you are working:

Making Mosaic Letters from Glass Beads, step 3

Step 4. Outline Bead Strands

Outline the strands of beads with tile to form the background:

Making Mosaic Letters from Glass Beads, step 4

Making Mosaic Letters

Mosaic letters can also be made from Outliners Mosaic Sticks™ and Morjo™ M1 Inch Sticks, although the second product line is better for larger letters.

To be honest, many different types of tile can be used to render letters and numerals if the size of the characters is fairly large compared to size of the tile.

The real question is which tile could be used to make letters that are relatively small. The answer is:

The 12mm Recycled Glass tile can be cut into three 4mm strips using the Wheeled Mosaic Glass Cutter.

Those 4mm strips are what I used for most of my characters before we started carrying the specialty products like Outliners.

Mosaic Numerals

What about numerals like “3” and letters like “S” that are made from curves and not straight lines? How are those rendered?

It depends on the size.

If the size is large enough, then Seed Beads on wire could be bent into a curve.

If the size is relatively small, then a bent wire of beads would have awkward gaps along the outside of the curve.

What is needed is something that could “keystone” cut like the stones in an arch.

For that, the Outliners or strips cut from 12mm tiles would be the best option.

Avoid Embossing

What shouldn’t be used for rendering letters and other small details?

Tile with embossed backsides, such as Vitreous Glass Tiles, should be avoided.

When embossed tile is cut small, the embossing interferes with the precision of the cut, and then it prevents the small piece from lying flat because the bottom isn’t smooth and flat.

There are limits to how small embossed tile should be cut. See our Practical Cutting Guide for details.

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