Mosaic-making Tools

I’ve written multiple posts on sources of tools for India based mosaicists, but since they date back to 2 years, I’m presenting an update on the most essential tools that I find necessary for mosaic practitioners. The recommended tools are listed under the materials they can handle.


 Wheeled Nippers 

Sai Mosaic Art : As of now, Ahmedabad based Sai Mosaic Art is the only e-commerce enabled website in India that sells tools and tiles for mosaic-making. I recommend their wheeled nippers because they are fast to buy, they are well-priced and they work well enough. The site also sells replacement blades for these nippers. Approx. Price: Rs1400.00

NBHTPL : Mumbai Based New Bombay Hardware Traders Pvt. Ltd. sells these heavy duty nippers by RUBI (Rubi 83942) that cut glass or ceramic tiles or china with equal ease. They are more expensive than most brands of wheeled nippers but their advantages are their multi-material use, quality and availability. Approx. Price: Rs3700.00

Leponitt Nippers  from Amazon US : Although these nippers are not available in India, the reason for including them in the list is to highlight them as an ideal tool to own. Those with a choice to ship items from Amazon US to friends in the US and get them through their visits, must exercise the choice and acquire a pair. These are lighter in weight than most nippers I’ve used and have good quality blades. Approx. Price: $29.00



Toyo Thomas Grip Scorer from Amazon US : This scorer isn’t available in India but it’s considered as the best cutter for stained glass sheets. It can be sourced from Amazon US if one can find a helpful acquaintance travelling from the US. Approx. Price: $27.00

Toyo Pencil Scorers : I had found this scorer in a local hardware store on a visit but not on my next one. It’s worth checking with local stores on its availability. Other local brands do not have good quality blades even if they look like these. Approx. Price: Rs250.00

Stanley Glass Cutter : It works as well or even better than locally made pencil scorers. If one can’t source a Toyo scorer then this cutter is worth acquiring. Like with other glass scorers, it should be run onto a cotton swab dipped in kerosene or machine oil to lubricate its wheel before using on glass. Approx. Price: Rs140.00

Running Pliers

Studio Pro Running Pliers from Amazon US : To break a score on a stained-glass sheet, one needs a pair of Running Pliers. I use Studio Pro’s Running Pliers that I sourced from Amazon US. These may be available in Indian hardware stores under a different brand name but I haven’t seen them locally. If you do find such pliers locally, remember to buy only those that have a raised bump on the lower jaw to help break a score. Approx. Price: $11.00


Scorer cum Snapper from NBHTPL : This tool by RUBI is a well-made and well-priced scorer-cum-snapper for ceramic tiles. They call it a Tile Cutter. It can be purchased from NBHTPL in Mumbai by sending an email to their Sales Head, Mr. Akshay Jain (akshayjain at nbhtpl dot com). Approx. Price: Rs700

Rubi Compound Nippers : These nippers from NBHTPL (Rubi 65926) are a good choice for shaping ceramic tiles. Their jaw has straight blades that aid breaking of ceramic tiles from the tile’s edge. Approx. Price: Rs1400.00

Sai Mosaic’s Professional Nippers : These nippers could become one’s second pair for shaping ceramic tiles. Their jaw has rounded blades that help with circular nipping. Approx. Price: Rs1000.00

MD Buildings Compound Nippers from Amazon US : These are my favourite compound nippers. I bought them from Amazon US at half the price mentioned against them at Amazon India. Amazon US still ships them to India so one should check if it makes sense to buy them from the US through a friend or on direct shipping to India. Approx. Price: $12.00


My Dremel Experience 

I’d long wanted to acquire a Dremel rotary tool to manage some tasks as a mosaicist. At some point, Amazon India’s discount sale brought the tool’s price down by a couple of thousand rupees, making it seem like an opportune time to buy it. If anyone else is considering its purchase, the information below may help one reach a decision.

The Right Model 

My enquiries in international mosaic groups had highlighted Dremel 4000 as the most apt model for my purpose as it had the power to allow long duration use as also enable varied cutting tasks. The price of Dremel 3000 was always more attractive but I tried my best to not succumb to the temptation to buy it. Too many people had mentioned that the model 3000 had blown up on overuse.

The model that I finally got from Amazon India is this one:

Dremel 4000-4/65 EZ 175-watt Multi-Tool Set (69-Pieces)

(An introductory video:
4000 is the Model number; 4 denotes the number of attachments that come with the tool; 65 is indicative of the small accessories bundled in.

Upon checking on Amazon India now, I see that this model is no longer available. It’s possible that Amazon managed to sell its complete stock at that sale. One of the reviewers on Amazon had written that the e-commerce site is discarding its old stock through discount sales so I’m now waiting to see how long mine lasts. I do know from many users in the west that the model 4000 is what they’ve found to be working well.

Must-have Accessories 

My identified requirements from the Dremel tool were to : cut shapes out of acrylic sheets and mdf board; cut crockery; grind tile edges when absolutely necessary, etch ceramic tiles, buff mosaic jewellery, engrave wood etc.

Other than what came with the Dremel tool kit, I’ve bought the following additional accessories from Amazon India:

Dremel 4486 Multi Chuck (0.4-3.4 mm) 

To avoid having to change the collet repeatedly for different bits and mandrels, I decided to buy this multi chuck as it’s believed to work with all the accessories. Its idea is totally welcome but upon using it I found the accessory bit 561 getting dislodged on pressing into the hard surface of an acrylic sheet. I need to use it more often to determine its efficacy but I believe that its price of Rs599.00 makes it a worthwhile item in the kit.

Tools Centre’s 22 mm 10 Mini Diamond Saw Blades with 2 Shanks

Diamond blades are essential for cutting ceramic or china crockery with Dremel. Instead of buying Dremel’s expensive original diamond blade priced at Rs3500/piece, I decided to give this set of 10 blades a chance. The set came at Rs660.00, and till now, I’ve used one out of them to cut 4 shapes out of a 4 mm acrylic sheet. I found the blade to be more effective than any other bit in my original kit.  I’m sure they will come in handy for varied materials in the future. I’m just curious to see the longevity of each blade as they say that low priced blades lose their diamond surface rather rapidly. At the price they have come though, one can experiment with them without too much thought.

My First Project 

I’ve wanted to cut mdf and acrylic shapes for a long time. I believe that a Jigsaw or 3-ring saw are most appropriate for cutting mdf shapes but since I’ve wanted to use the Dremel tool for many things that it can possibly do, I decided to cut acrylic shapes with it. After testing the cutting bit 561 and SpeedClick SC456 that came in the kit, I found Tool Center’s diamond blades more effective for cutting the hard 4 mm acrylic sheets. It was tough to handle acrylic sheets as their cutting not only created a lot of acrylic powder in the air, the diamond blade led to slightly burnt acrylic edges. For those attempting this must wear a nose mask and protective glasses. Wearing anti-glass cut gloves may also help as sometimes tiny pieces of warm acrylic fly onto the hand holding the sheet.

The acrylic shapes had residual plastic stuck to their edges that also went away when rubbed against the surface of the diamond blade.

While I’d be cutting more acrylic, I’m not sure that I’d cut them in large numbers. The process is time-consuming and emits a lot of acrylic powder. Two of the shapes, however, have served as substrates for a small sun-catcher for my yard.

I wish… 

There is lots that isn’t in favour of buying this tool in India. It is pricey; Bosch Limited doesn’t do much to want to sell it (my calls and emails to them didn’t get me any response); Dremel tool’s original accessories are not only expensive, many times they aren’t even available online; Dremel-India’s website isn’t as informative as; Amazon India has far less product data available against the item/accessories than say Amazon US; its videos on Youtube or the company site are mere promos and not educative… And yet, hobbyists or artists in India have been buying the tool because of its perceived potential. Many glass artists I’ve connected with tell me that they bought it thinking that it’d help with many tasks but their prime use of it is to drill holes in glass, an essential need to create many stained glass objects.

I wish was doing much more to facilitate the tool’s handling and help learn the use of its accessories through better videos and live workshops. I believe I’ve watched every single video that’s available on it on Youtube but I still wasn’t entirely sure of the blade that would cut acrylic sheets easily. The Dremel India website doesn’t even allow search for accessories by their model number. One has to use Google to find that accessory’s page on the company website.

Useful Learning Resources

I found these sites to carry some useful views and advise that may help others too.

Do you use a Dremel tool? Do share your experience on its use and how it’s made your work easier.

Product Review: Resibond Clear 330–Silicone in a tube 

Resinova’s Resibond Clear 330 silicone has come my way through a Pune based member of the Mosaic India group. She had used the product to adhere stained glass to acrylic window panes and the adhesive dried clear. Later, I found the company website and emailed them an enquiry as I couldn’t find the product online. The email response gave the name of their NCR marketing representative, who called a little later to understand my application and pointed me to 2 of their products. He checked with his staff and also gave a shop’s name close to my location where I was likely to find the products. I went over to South City Hardware and Sanitaryware in South City-I market (Gurgaon, Haryana, India) and did find this silicone in 20 ml tubes. It cost Rs30/tube.

I’ve now used the adhesive to create the glass-on-acrylic mosaic in the image and it acted fine. It was easy to dispense, gave 10-15 minutes to move around the tesserae and started firming up. By the morning, the tiles were fairly firmly adhered. I decided to pry loose an odd shaped tessera with a pick the next day to cut it and paste the 2 pieces again, and that too worked well.

The mosaic got grouted without any major problem. The tiny specks inside the bird moved around a bit indicating the need for a bigger tessera surface with the adhesive on it to hold the substrate more firmly, but they didn’t come off.

The main learning was that the silicone is best applied smoothly on the (transparent) tile or, preferably, all over the substrate to prevent gaps from forming under the tile for the grout to seep in and remain visible through the transparent tiles.

As far as this product goes, I’m pleased to see silicone available in small tubes so one isn’t forced to cut open a big caulk for a small mosaic any longer.

I’d like to request the company through this post to make the product available through Amazon India so one can source it easily. Meanwhile, those in the NCR can get in touch with the NCR marketing representative for locations of dealers/stores that stock the Resinova products. Others can email the company for stores near their locations.

NCR Marketing Representative:
Mr. Ram Pratap
Astral Adhesives
Delhi Office: +91-011-26818810, 26814096
Mobile: +91-9999971908
Email: chemicals at resinova dot com

Mosaic Tools in India

Since my last 3 posts on mosaic tools, I have the following update and leads to pass along:

Sai Mosaic Art

This company has now begun selling the following tools and accessories from its website:

. Wheeled nippers
. Replacement blades for wheeled nippers
. Nippers for shaping ceramic tiles
. A set of 4 picks
. Fibre-glass mesh by meter

Their nippers and picks are available through Amazon India as well.

If the website’s payment gateway gives any problem, contact them on their email with your requested items.


New Bombay Hardware Traders

NBHT has begun to stock all the tools necessary for handling ceramic tiles. The tool listing is as below with the prices as of December 2016:

Rubi 5975 Hand Held Tile Cutter
MRP: Rs. 685.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 622.00
More Details at:

Rubi 71970 Nippers for Glass Mosaic
MRP: Rs. 2,772.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs.2,517.00
More Details at:

Rubi 65926 Nippers for Ceramic Tiles
MRP: Rs. 1,419.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs.1,288.00
More Details at:

Rubi 83942 Nippers for Porcelain Tiles
MRP: Rs. 3,689.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 3,350.00
More Details at:

Rubi 65925 Parrot Nippers
MRP: Rs. 2,307.00
Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 2,095.00
More Details at:

Rubi 12969 Manual Tile Cutter
MRP: Rs. 8,432.00; Discounted Price Including Tax: Rs. 7,656.00
Video at:

For purchasing any of these tools, an email to the Sales Head, Mr. Akshay Jain (akshayjain at nbhtpl dot com) would get you the company bank details for making its payment. The tool would be couriered to any city in India.


Lastly, it’s good to see that Amazon India has been enlisting mosaic media suppliers but it’s also disappointing to note that other than Sai Mosaic’s products, most other items are prohibitively priced. For now, one can buy mosaic books from them and wait till their product range increases and is priced better.


Mosaic Supply Store: Cefino, New Delhi 


I’m pleased to share the lead to another India based glass tile supplier through this post. Two members from the Mosaic India group happened to learn about the supply store Cefino and bought small stocks of vitreous glass tiles from them. My calls to the company’s sales executive got me this information on their materials:

. Cefino imports vitreous glass tiles from China in size 20×20 mm, and manufactures ceramic tiles in size 1×1” in its factory located in Noida.

. The company sells tiles to retailers as also makes mosaics using whole tiles with the help of proprietary design software.

. It gets the imported tiles pre-stuck on sheets in single colours that it uses to create newer sheets with randomly mixed tiles or popular colour combinations for retail sales. As mosaicists, I mentioned, that we’ll be interested mostly in single colour sheets.

Cefino‘s manufacturing unit is in Noida, tile stocks are kept in Neb Sarai near IGNOU in New Delhi, and a small office is located in Malviya Nagar, New Delhi. The stocks can be seen only in Neb Sarai but at some notice the requested tiles can be sent over for the purchaser to the office in Malviya Nagar.

Range of Tilesimg_4189

. The following varieties of glass tiles are available in size 20×20 mm:

Classic: Rs100/sqft (grainy)
Gold line/Iridium/Crystal: Rs300/sqft
Marbella/600 series tiles: Rs720/sqftimg_4191

. Presently, the Classic range includes only the grainy variety of vitreous glass tiles.

. These prices are MRP as of October 2016 and may go through changes. img_4192To the extent possible, Cefino will offer some discount on their MRP figures.

Method of Purchase 

. Those located in NCR can request tiles from the company’s Sales Executive through Whatsapp by quoting the tile codes and quantities. They should include their address and mobile number in the message and fix up the specifics on stocks and delivery time through a phone call. When in stock, tiles can be made available at Malviya Nagar in 2 days after a prior request. One can go pick them up.img_4188

. Those in NCR have the choice of requesting the door delivery of tiles as long as the delivery person’s commute charges are reimbursed by the purchaser. When available, tiles will be sent over within 3 days to most locations in NCR.

. Cefino can sell a minimum of 1 sqft per colour of tiles.

. Outstation deliveries of tiles are also possible if the courier charges are paid in advance. Further details can be taken from the company.

Contact Information

Mr. Marutesh Singh
Sales Executive
B-101 Rear Basement, Malviya Nagar
New Delhi  110017
Phone: +91-11-41831004
Mobile: +91-9818636657

With this supplier, mosaic-makers based in India can order vitreous glass tiles in small quantities from 2 different sources. If you know of any more, do let me know.

Mosaic Supply Store: Sai Mosaic Art 


The need to source tools and tiles for mosaics has meant much web-trawling for me and on one such scan of Amazon India, I’d found small kits and stocks of crystal glass tiles being sold by Ahmedabad based Sai Mosaic Art. I found their website, emailed them to ask about their products, and if they would make them available to small scale mosaic-makers like me. I kept learning more about their products bit by bit. Not only that, a few weeks later, the company owner Mr. Patel spent a morning in Gurgaon while on the way to UP and met me and a few more mosaic-makers.

Mr. Patel made notes of our needs and approach to creating mosaics, said that he’d be keen to help small artists scattered around the country, and later shared with us a list of products, their pricing and minimum quantities that his company would supply. Apart from the adhesive, I’ve now used all their products listed below and can confirm that they indeed fulfil many requirements. Other than a wide range of glass and ceramic tile shades, their mesh is of good quality and works as intended. I’d bought a few small mesh pieces from Amazon US and paid much more than the rate offered by Sai. At least 2 of the 4 picks they sell are invaluable and at the price they come, those of you conducting workshops can easily keep 4-5 sets.

Sai Mosaic Art’s current product range:
(with the minimum permissible order per item)

  1. Crystal glass tiles in 15×15 mm size and 3 mm thickness – 1 sqft or approx 400 tiles
  2. Ceramic tiles in varying sizes in 5 mm thickness –  500 gms in size 1×1” with approx 80 pieces to fill 9×9” space img_3478
    . 12 pieces in size 4×4”
    . 4 pieces in size 6×6”
    . 2 pieces in size 12×8”
  3. Mosaic mesh by meter – 1×1 meter
  4. A set of 4 mosaic picks – 1 set
  5. Adhesive—white glue for indoor mosaics
  6. 3-board shade kit in ceramic tiles
  7. 8-board shade kit in crystal glass

Method of Buying  img_4001

. Email the tile codes with quantities to Sai Mosaic Art.
. Include your complete address and contact numbers in your email.
. Await confirmation via email on stock availability, time to be taken to despatch the items and the final amount to be paid.
. Transfer the amount to the seller’s bank account.
. Await the courier.

Where stocks are available, it takes upto 7 days to have the material in hand.

Contact Information  img_4003

Sai Distributors Pvt Ltd
A/7, SF, Millennium Plaza, Mansi Circle
Vastrapur. Ahmedabad 380 015
Gujarat, India
Ph:- +91 79 40009386
Fax:- +91 79 26764962 img_4004
Cell:- +91 98 25073678

Further Tips from Me 

Crystal tiles: When you see the beautiful crystal shades on their website, you’d be tempted to acquire small stocks of all the colours for they look like jewels and cut easily with wheeled nippers due to their 3 mm thickness. They look smaller than 15x15mm because of their rounded corners so many mosaicists would be happiest using them without cutting. In fact the shiny SPR tiles must be used whole because of the gold foil used at the back but the rest of the marble or luminescent tiles cut well. My tip is to buy one sqft in each of the 5-6 colours that you’re absolutely sure of using and buy a set of shade boards at the same time. When seen up-close, the iridescence or luminescence of tiles is much clearer than their images make them appear so it helps to have the boards on hand to decide on colours. Place the rest of your tile order on getting hold of the shade kit.img_4006

Ceramic tiles: the smallest size available is 1×1” and they arrive in a perfect state in the courier. Bigger sizes tend to see some breakage but the company is good about replacing any broken tiles so don’t lose heart.

Mesh: The quality is good and even though it arrives folded, it straightens without much effort. img_3329

Picks: They are a must-have in every mosaicist’s kit.

Click on the images to see their bigger size.

Adhesives Used in Mosaics

Note: This post was first published on May 17, 2016 at 


Since mosaics can be made with varying media and substrates, a careful thought on adhesives becomes necessary. Some quick considerations that come to mind are these:

. The intended location of the mosaic – outdoors or indoors
. Weight of tesserae – ceramic tiles, glass, shells or stones
. Size of mosaic – a large wall, a 3D installation or just a small coaster
. Climate conditions – overly humid or frost-ridden or dry
. Substrate material – cement, glass, stone, wood or metal

Here are the adhesive choices that I’m familiar with:


Fevicol is the most popular PVA used in India. The craft quality fevicol is IMG_3504graded as MR and it’s good enough for small wall art, but as the size of substrate and weight of tesserae go up, it’s prudent to use the carpenter quality PVA or Fevicol SH. Of late, I’ve seen Fevicol Marine being sold as a more waterproof variant but I still need to test it for outdoors.

Fevicol dries clear and it’s good for mdf, wood and fibre mesh.


Internationally, silicone is recommended for mosaics meant for outdoors. My own experience shows me that the silicone we get here in different brands has less adhesion than Fevicol SH. I’ll keep checking more brands of silicone and post an update on the brand that works better than Fevicol SH.

For Glass on Glass, artists recommend thinly and evenly applied silicone as it dries clear. Those of you with experience with silicone should please share the silicone brands you’ve found effective.


If not Silicone, the adhesive highly recommended for outdoors is Thinset. It’s essentially grey or white cement with chemicals for better bonding. Thinset is mixed with water, allowed a few minutes of slaking time and buttered on the reverse of tiles to stick to substrates like wood, metal, stones or walls. If a mosaic is created on fibre mesh, the mosaicked mesh can be applied to its intended substrate using Thinset. White or grey colour can be chosen based on the colour of tiles and substrate.

Popular brands of Thinset used by folks I’ve connected with are Laticrete, Asian Paints, Ardex Endura and Roff.

Epoxy Adhesives

Epoxy adhesives come in the combination of Resin and Hardener as in the popular brand Araldite. Once mixed, the adhesive has to be applied quickly as it hardens within minutes. Epoxy adhesives are waterproof and bond strongly but because they don’t dry clear and they give little time for applying to tiles, they aren’t favoured by many.

Pre-mixed Adhesive Pastes

I’ve known of white pastes from Kerakoll and Roff that are recommended for adhering fibre mesh or direct tiles to walls but because they come in large buckets, I haven’t acquired them for testing as yet. Those of you with experience with these adhesives are requested to share your views on the brands you’ve found effective.


I use these adhesives for those odd tesserae that weren’t stuck properly and come off the substrate as I start grouting the mosaic. Their instant adhesive and drying qualities are helpful in those situations.

I’m sure I’ve missed many glues from the list above. In international groups, I keep hearing of liquid nails or elmer’s glue and the hugely popular Weldbond, none of  which I’ve had access to. So do tell if I should include any more adhesives in my mosaic kit.

Mosaic-making: Substrate Choices

Note: This post was first published on April 27, 2016 at 


After covering leads to tools and media for creating mosaics I’d like to share ideas on materials that can be mosaicked. The base that one uses to create a mosaic is called a Substrate. This base can be flat to hang on a wall or a 3D object to place indoors, outdoors or can be a wall itself. Every material and its intended location would need consideration on the adhesive suitable for it; a topic I’ll cover in another post.

Here are some ideas on what you could be using as a base for your mosaic:


Medium-density Fibreboard or MDF is easier to cut, and weighs less, than commercial ply and it can be easily bought in the required sizes from local framers or wood suppliers. The thickness recommended for mosaics IMG_3340is generally 8 mm to carry the weight of tesserae but framers provide 4 mm ones that they themselves use for supporting frames, and those have served me well enough for sizes under 11″x14″. I get them in small or medium sizes from a local framer very cheaply and keep them handy for vitreous or stained glass mosaics.

There are shops and online craft stores that can provide mdf shapes in varying shapes that expand the range of mosaicked products one can create. These can be coasters, trivets, trays, shaped photo frames, boxes and more. The online sources that I know for mdf shapes are these:

Itsy Bitsy
Hobby Ideas

Since mosaic-making is still a lesser-known art, mdf shapes are made available by suppliers essentially for Decoupage. However, any 4+ mm mdf cutout providing large enough area for glass pieces to adhere can be used for mosaics.

Ply/Commercial Board/Wood

For heavy ceramic tile or crockery cuts, or large sized mosaic compositions for indoors, it’s best to use a commercial board or a thick ply to prevent its sagging under the tesserae and grout weight. Get it cut in the required size from the place of purchase.

Wooden bowls, driftwood or stumps of trees are all good for mosaicking too.

Cement Paving Tiles and Other Objects

Pre-made cement stepping stones are favourite substrates among many for gardens or pathways. Cement flower or plant pots, bird-baths, fountains, garden benches or tables can also be mosaicked, and they look wonderful with a colourful play of ceramic or glass tiles.

Terracotta Objects

Planters, bird-baths, fruit-plates can work as substrate choices.

River Stones and Boulders

If these stones offer flat patches then they can be mosaicked and placed outdoors or small river stones can be used as paperweights for indoors.


Walls can be mosaicked using a direct method onsite or double-direct method that uses a fibre-mesh offsite for eventual adhering to a wall indoors or outdoors.


Glass on glass (GOG) is a favourite method or subject of mosaicking for many. Window panes or sun-catchers can be created with stained glass so light reflects through them. Glass lamps or bottles get covered in this category too.

Plexi-glass or Polycarbonate Sheets

These can be cut with a mechanical tool or special scissors to create garden-stakes or other garden art as this base works like glass for sunlight to filter through.


Iron metal tables or garden stakes are popular substrate choices among mosaic artists for creating objects for outdoors, and they look rather charming because of the stark difference between the black metal and colorful tiles.

Besides above, I’ve come across mannequins, dense foam, plaster of paris sculptures, slate tiles, the reverse of ceramic tiles etc. being used by many artists as substrates for their mosaics. Another favorite substrate for vertical art meant for outdoors is Wediboard. This board is made of foam, covered on both sides with a thin layer of cement and it’s waterproof. It’s also light-weight and cuts with a sharp kitchen knife so mosaic artists internationally prefer its use for outdoors or shower areas. I’m still to find a similar product in India but for now, given the wide substrate choices listed above, I already have a long list of substrates and tesserae to experiment with to further my skills as a mosaicist. And, so do you 🙂

Mosaic Media and Tools—Part 3

Note: This post was first published on February 6, 2016 at


If a mosaicist wishes to include ceramic tiles in her range of media, then a couple more tools become necessary to acquire. Ceramic tiles are cheaper and rugged so prove useful for outside applications. Garden paving stones, planters, walls or staircases can be more effectively mosaicked with ceramic tiles than vitreous glass alone so a mosaicist’s ability to use them can broaden her range of mosaic products to create.

As of now, my use of ceramic tiles has been limited to those I’ve broken with a hammer and applied on a yard step but I do intend to cut these tiles in a more controlled way so I’ve been researching the tools necessary for them. Here they are.

Hammer: This is the most common tool in use for breaking IMG_2715ceramic tiles for large wall murals or other cemented structures. Tiles can be placed inside newspapers and broken with a hammer to prevent the pieces from flying or the tile dust from getting into one’s lungs. These pieces can then be arranged in Opus Palladianum or random style to fill the drawn shapes.

Scorer-cum-snapper: This tool has a scoring wheel on one side and a fat movable plastic wing on the other side of its mouth. It is used to run a deep score on a ceramic tile which can then be held by the black wing and snapped. Strips of tiles can be cut with this tool that compound nippers can further nip into shapes. I haven’t found this to be an easy tool to use but with more practice it may act as intended.

Compound nippers: These are used to nip off small bits of a tile to create circles and other shapes. This is an essential tool to keep for ceramic tiles.

Side biter or nippers: Much like a pair of compound nippers, this tool nips off small pieces of cut or broken ceramic tile to give it a defined shape. This is another tool I’m trying to come to grips with! Many mosaicists find it effective enough. Commercial tile layers in India call it ‘Jamboora’ and do use it for nipping.

Manual Tile saw: I find this saw to be the most essential tool to cut ceramic tiles. Its function is also to score and snap a tile along a score which can be made vertically or diagonally. Its scorer on the lever does an effective job in comparison to the hand-held scorer-cum-snapper. Thin strips of tiles can be cut with this saw that can be further shaped using a pair of compound nippers. As this is a heavy tool to get shipped from another country, I’m pleased to learn after making multiple enquiries from Amazon India that a local hardware supplier in Mumbai (NBHT) has been importing them and can provide them easily. They also give a 2-year warranty on them. Prior to getting this response from Amazon India, I’d learned ofSomany Ceramics providing a similar saw (not Rubi) as part of their 11-Tile Master Kit. After some follow-up, their Sales Manager was kind enough to bring over the kit to give its demo. I’d found their saw to be heavy to handle but it did work as intended. I’d have liked a lighter and smaller saw but I’ve just learned from a user that Rubi 12978 was easy enough for her to manage and made her wall mural-making a less strenuous process for her.

Grinder: It is used to smoothen the edges of tiles. There are wet grinders by Gryphette that are mostly used for stained glass pieces or stone grinders used for glass or ceramic tile pieces. I’m still to establish their necessity for ceramic mosaics as with practice nippers can do an acceptable job of giving usable edges to ceramic pieces.

Ceramic or porcelain tiles: Much as I’d like to believe that ceramic tiles are available in varying thicknesses in India, on my visits to tile stores, I’ve only found heavy floor tiles in 8+ mm thickness. Even handmade tiles tend to be too thick for any hand-held nippers to shape. When I do find ceramic tiles as thin as 4-8 mm, they are usually remnants of a store’s very old stock so available in just a few colors or leftover pieces. Fresh stocks of tiles tend to be in 12 mm or more thickness making them suitable only for walls or fixed structures.

With this post, I’ve covered all the essential tools needed to create mosaics per my understanding. I’ve also linked the tools above to the sites they can be purchased from. If I’ve missed any tool that you’ve found useful, do tell me. Or, if you’ve an easier source to suggest for these tools, do share the lead.

Happy Mosaicking!



New Bombay Hardware Traders Pvt. Ltd.
Plot-107, Sector-23, Janata Market Road
Turbhe, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, 400705
Landline: +912227833331; +912227835529
Email:; Website:
Contact person: Mr. Akshay Jain, GM
Somany Ceramics Ltd.
F-36, sector-6 Noida-201301
Phone: 0120-4627900
Contact person: Mr. Suresh Raina, Senior Manager, Tile Laying Division
Email:; Mobile: +919716256317

Mosaic Media and Tools–Part 2

Note: This post was first published on December 14, 2015 at


This post is for level 2 of mosaic-making. When a mosaicist finds her vitreous glass tile color palette to be limiting her designs, using stained glass along side will increase the colors available to her. Another advantage would be that stained glass would allow cutting of bigger and varied shapes for a composition which the small size of vitreous glass tiles doesn’t permit. A bigger size, however, brings with itself the challenge of cutting and shaping stained glass, so an added set of tools is needed to manage this media.

 Here’s what is needed to use stained glass for creating mosaics.

Stained Glass

As opposed to 2×2 cm or 1″x1″ vitreous glass tiles, stained glass comes in sheet sizes of 2’x5’ or 2’x6’. It comes in transparent, semi transparent and opaque colors. As for brands, I’ve only seen Spectrum stained glass that comes from the US. It has a dealer in East of Kailash, New Delhi–Superior Float Glass–whose store I’d visited some months ago to buy small quantities of glass to experiment with. Good quality stained glass comes expensive at its StainedGlassprice of Rs250-Rs500/sq ft so warrants practiced glass cutting and shaping skills to avoid its wastage. I’d heard of stained glass discards being stored by big glass stores which I was fortunate to find at the Superior store. While it wasn’t easy to rummage through their single gigantic wooden crate of broken, dusty discards, with the help of a worker I did extricate usable opaque glass pieces in many colors. They weighed 3 kgs and came much cheaper at Rs150/kg. In addition, I bought 8 sq ft of stained glass in different colors from their large or leftover sheets, and returned home with plenty of colors and sizes to play with. In the image on right, discards are in the purple container and are large enough to create big or small pieces for mosaic compositions. The rectangular pieces on the table came at prices between Rs250-350/sq ft.

I’ve learned of an inferior and cheaper quality of stained glass that comes from China and available with a store in Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. I still have to track down that place and product.

Necessary Tools

Glass scorer

Glass scorers are used to create a deep enough straight or curved score on stained glass that fractures the glass along the line. The glass is then held by Running Pliers against the score and snapped along the line. Glass cutters in India have long used diamond tipped pen scorers to fracture and break all sorts of glass. Good quality pen scorers, however, come with a tiny carbide tipped wheel on their tip and have an oil reservoir in the stem to keep the wheel lubricated and moving freely. Stained glass artists use either these pen scorers or pistol grip scorers for ease of gripping them. Fortunately, oil reservoir pen scorers are easy enough to find in hardware stores in Gurgaon. This link on Amazon India shows the scorer I mean and it’ll cost less than its displayed price in a local hardware store.

Running Pliers

These are used to hold the glass against a score and snap it neatly. It looks like this, and while it should be possible to source it locally, I got it from Amazon US.


A grozer snips off small pieces from the edge of stained glass. They may be protruding ends that need removal or intentionally snipped small pieces that are needed to fill a shape. A grozer is also used to break thin strips from stained glass that running pliers don’t help break as the narrow strip may be too close to the edge of the glass. Running pliers need enough area on the glass edge to hold it firmly. I got a grozer from Amazon US but it should be available with hardware stores here as stained glass artists use them in India.Stainedglasstools

Wheeled Mosaic Cutter

These cutters have been covered in my previous post. They continue to be immensely useful in cutting geometric or curved shapes out of strips of stained glass much like they do with vitreous glass tiles.

Carborundum stone

Also called a rubbing stone, this rough stone is available at local hardware stores to grind jagged ends of shapes cut with cutters.

Protective Eye Glasses

I find that stained glass strips break differently from vitreous glass tiles. Cutting stained glass sees shards flying in a less controller manner than one witnesses with vitreous glass tiles. Using a grozer throws around even more tiny pieces of glass rather unpredictably. The use of simple protective eye glasses is therefore necessary. I’ve found this pair by 3M to be adequate for this purpose.

Turpentine Oil

Although not a tool, it took me a while to figure out the right oil to use for glass scorers. Glass workers advise the use of kerosene oil but hardware store folks suggest turpentine oil. I’ve used latter and found it working well. One can simply dip the wheeled pen scorer into a bottle of oil, dab the extra oil on a tissue and run it on glass to create a score.

There are more tools that a mosaicist may want to own or at least want access to. I’ll cover them in a Part 3 post that will cover ceramic tiles as the media of choice.

Meanwhile, do tell me what else can be added to the range of tools covered in these 2 posts.



. Supplier of Spectrum Stained Glass:

. Glass Tool Supplier:
Mr. Sudhir Arora
Techno Trade Links
B-46, Ansal Chambers-1,
3,Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi – 110066
Mobile: +91-9868124610
Tel.: 91 -11-26102729, 26170056