Do you know that miniature glass tiles have bulldozed their way into flooring and wall texturing, asks Ranjani Govind

Glass mosaics are into every form of interior showcase. From the minuscule pieces brought together in flooring tiles that keep your feet gripped in non-watery areas (as in dance floors that reflect flickering lights) to the laid ones with gaps that are naturally anti-skid (as in swimming pools) and the mushrooming wall-décor pieces and murals, they are truly eye-catching.

Take, for example, some of the sari and clothes boutique in the city that sport glass-mosaic sari murals spread hugely on the elevation, attracting long gazes. The impressive images of sari murals at several showrooms are techno-crafted in a judicious mix of minuscule Italian glass mosaics, Indian glass tiles and ceramic tiles with lakhs of tiles going into the work spread nearly 8-10 feet on the wall.

Says Ramnath, owner of a huge sari showroom, of the design novelty: “We didn't want the staid nameboards or the over-used glass, aluminium and steel for elevations. We didn't want a corporate look. A refreshing changeover from the decades-old, neo-classical appearance was what we were thinking about. Even if it meant a casual display of sari images, we wanted it to be the only-one-of-its-kind, in a creative medium.”

Challenge

“This kind of tiling for creating a mural on the wall is a challenge,” says S. Muralidharan of Studio Infiniti, dealing with variety tiles. “In any wall mural of a huge kind there would be a minimum of three families of tiny tiles with varied thickness blended for the design to take the right shape. There will be places where even a 10mm x 10 mm tile has to be cut to get the design right.”

Italian and Indian versions in strips are stuck together to the wall with polymer-modified adhesives for lifetime grip and special grout for matching the tile colours. The grouts used for permanent bond are anti-algae, anti-fungal and waterproof.

Mosaics to step on

But what is it like to step on these small glass tiles? Aren't they brittle, will they withstand the traffic? Do they provide a safe grasp? Says Amit M. Juvekar, GM-Marketing, Palladio Mosaics, “Palladio glass mosaic is primarily for wall cladding, but flooring mosaics are recommended in bathrooms too and the reason for the small size is that it will not add any weight to the surface on which it is clad. Larger sizes would mean more thickness, which in turn would mean more weight.”

Palladio's plant at Kadi has virgin raw materials such as silica, quartz, feldspar and fluorspar that's mixed in required quantities along with colour oxides. This mixture is then heated at a certain temperature so that it becomes molten and gets evenly fused. This molten, when culled, turns to glass. It is available in 300 colour shades.

The mosaics are transformed through sophisticated CAD software into a constellation of vibrating colours. A design can be carried out with professional alacrity especially when used in combination with artistic hand-cuts, borders, colour-blends and wall murals.

“Being glass, it can never be scratch proof,” says Amit. “It can be easily fixed on any surface, maintained just by any common bathroom detergents. In addition, it is water-proof, acid-proof and retains its attributes for years, even under harsh weather conditions. The joint gaps between mosaics act as anti-skid agents as they help you to grip the surface easily (in case of bathroom, low traffic area applications).”

The basic range of glass mosaics starts from Rs.150 per sq. ft and goes up to thousands depending on the materials used.

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