For environmental, economic and political reasons, it is increasingly important to purchase materials produced here in the United States. In the long run, it doesn’t benefit anyone to ship jobs where people and the environment are exploited for short-term gains, and it makes little sense to throw away our manufacturing base, which is the real source of any nation’s economic strength.
Fortunately, some of the most colorful and beautiful art glass in the world is made in America.
Real Stained Glass
This is NOT the cheap chips of barely-tinted glass commonly sold in assortments for craft projects.
Our stained glass is proudly made by Kokomo, Spectrum, Armstrong, and Wissmach right here in the US, and it has much greater color density, opacity and consistency than art glass produced in Asia.
There are several reasons to use stained glass in your mosaics. First of all, stained glass isn’t grainy like most varieties of vitreous glass mosaic tile. The colours are much richer and more luminescent than vitreous, and this is true even when comparing muted and less-intense colors like gray or olive. Unlike fully-opaque tile, most stained glass is partially translucent which allows light to penetrate into the glass and produce maximum color.
Another reason to use stained glass is that it comes in larger pieces, and you can hand cut your own individual tiles with slightly irregular shapes. This gives a mosaic a more authentic handmade look, which can be difficult to achieve when using machine-molded square tile.
However, stained glass has more or less the same thickness as vitreous glass mosaic tile, and that means it is possible to use both materials in the same mosaic, provided no sharp edges are left exposed.
The main safety concern with stained glass is the potential for sharp edges, which are sharper than most other types of tile, but this problem can be minimized by taking care to install the tile flat and flush, and then grout thoroughly.
Dual-Grit Rubbing Stones and Marble Files are useful for reducing sharp edges on hand-cut tile.
American-Made Glass Mosaic Tile
Glass gems are blobs of glass that look like large beads of water: rounded domes that are flat on the bottom. They can be used as an improvised form of glass mosaic tile and work well as accents in stepping stones and mixed-media mosaic.
Most brands of glass gems can only be used in vases and other containers because their colors are too faint to show up well when the gems are laid out flat.
Our glass gems were chosen for their luminous colors and pigment density. They were made by Marble King in the US in their Paden City, West Virginia plant, and they knock the socks off most glass gems made in Asia.
Ceramic Number and Letter Tile
Ceramic Letter and Number Tile sets are made in the US by CowTown Ceramics. The letters and numbers come in sheets that are easily snapped apart by hand to produce individual embossed letter and number tiles. These are great for mixed media mosaic projects like stepping stones, mosaic “samplers” with quotes, and address plaques.