Mosaic glass Tile

The Process of Mosaic glass Tile making is something spectacular

By Joe Ureña

Who doesn’t love those shiny pieces of sometime translucent material that plays with light and with some oxides and change in temperature you can achieve something memorable enough to outlast your life.


Mosaic Smalti in Boxes ready to Bag and put away.

Mosaic Glass Production

Production styles, when combined with color, size and shape, determine a tile’s look and feel. When choosing glass tile there is something unique and special about little imperfections on a glass tile. 

4 Main types of glass


Byzantine Glass is made from thinner slabs of glass, usually about 3/8 to 1/2 the thickness of a typical smalti slab. The slab is cut roughly to squares or rectangles, most pieces being somewhat irregular in shape, about 10mm (3⁄8 inch) in size. Thickness also varies, 4-6mm (3⁄16-1⁄4″).

Note that the surface of the slab, not the side, is used as the face of the tile. As it cools, the surface of a smalti slab undergoes more unpredictable color changes than on the interior of the slab. This, for better or worse, makes for more variations among Byzantine Glass pieces than in other Smalti tiles. 

Smalti melts at 1300°C (2372°F) – Smalti is 100% vitreous waterproof & freeze-proof and may be used in both indoor and outdoor applications. There is no specific COE assigned to our product, because fusing is not the intended use.

Mosaic Glass Process

Smalti comes from Italian, and refers to a paste or glaze made up of silica melted with sodium or potassium carbonate. Metals are added as stabilizing agents, as well as metal oxides (for color). The paste is fired at high temperatures, then rolled out into a pancake-like slab that can be up to 6 inches thick.

Once cooled, the slab is traditionally hand-cut into small rectangular pieces of tile. Artisans typically turn the resulting tiles (also called tessarae) on their sides, as this exposes swirls or layers of colorful textures. 

Smalti tiles are typically colorful, textured, small format tiles. Smalti tiles were originally developed to complement natural marble and granite tile colors.

Newer oxides have enabled smalti tile makers to venture into nontraditional looks as well. As a glass tile, Smalti tiles are also weather- and stain-resistant, and are relatively easy to cut. 

All these features have made the popularity of this type of tile endure among modern mosaic artists and hobbyists as well.

The modern “smalto” method has the smelted paste cast in a capsule, rather than rolled out and cut.The capsules, which enable the mass production identically-sized tiles usually produce tiles in the 3⁄4″ × 3⁄4;” × 1⁄8″ format (i.e. 20mm × 20mm × 3mm).

Mosaic glass Tile

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