Mosaic tile and improvised mosaic tile can be obtained cheaply from various sources: returns to building material stores, construction dumpsters and home renovations, old dinnerware from thrift stores and garage sales, lawn and garden stores (for rounded river pebbles and crushed stone), bottles from recycling centers, etc. Rock tumblers are useful for processing some of this material, but some of it can be used as obtained (or with a little cutting). However, vitreous glass and recycled glass tile can actually be more affordable, especially if you consider the time spent reclaiming and preparing material for use in a mosaic.
For molded glass mosaic tile, the best value is usually the 3/4″ vitreous glass tile, which is highly recommended for beginners because it is easy to cut and different brands can be used together in the same mosaic. This is a key point because artists often have to source from different brands to get all of the colors they need due to temporary shortages at a particular manufacturer. MorjoTM Vitreous Tile is the most affordable vitreous tile available, and also comes in 3/8″ mini size tiles.
Another important point about vitreous glass tile is that it is NOT limited to beginners or craft projects. Much of the artwork featured on this website was created by professional artists using vitreous, including the naturalistic mosaic portraits done by Harjeet Singh Sandhu.
Lastly, glass mosaic tile is impervious to water, and therefore frost proof and suitable for outdoor use.
You can view many fantastic artworks made with vitreous glass tiles on our Mosaic Artists Gallery.