There really is a difference in the finished mosaic when you are using tesserae with matt surfaces as opposed to shiny surface tile. It does take a bit of adjustment. I just made a little Rainbow Tea Tray and The Rock Guy is saying he doesn't like it, and black grout was the wrong choice for that piece.
I don't actually agree with him, because I like black grout, I like it with every colour. But grouting with any matt surface tile is going to be different than if it were shiny.
There is no reflection from the tile, and no reflection from the grout, so it has the illusion of being a bit murky. It basically removes the contrast.
Coupled with the fact that the Tess-Array-nbow tiles seems to grip onto the grout, and if you haven't tried to clean them up with 50/50 vinegar and water, then they are going to have the appearance of hazy and muting the colours. (If you use Baby Wipes in your clean up- see previous blog post.. that will have a huge effect on the tiles and your hands.) It is mainly because there is no "play" between" the shiny and matt/dull surfaces. Our eyes like this. This is probably one of the reasons we were attracted to mosaics in the beginning is the light play, the shiny bits, the glints when the light catches a piece of tesserae, the pictures seem to move as you look at them and walk by them. They are almost alive. We love this about mosaics.
The colours ARE still there, but they don't pop so much.
I think I will make a sample to illustrate the different effects of different coloured grouts, and will also make some with different sealers.
I am thinking that maybe a solution is to paint the grout with a glossy sealer. This will keep the nice effect that we all love with black grout, and it will provide the contrast, that our eyes seem to expect.
I made some outdoor totem poles with cabochons of Mookaite that we mine, and used two of the vibrant glass tile range, and then grouted. To my horror I realised I had used the wrong black grout. I had used the Dunlop Black, which ends up giving a dark grey finish rather than the pitch black grout I really love. So, to combat that I painted the totems with shiny/gloss sealer, and it did have an overall effect of making the piece look better. My tesserae were all shiny- the cabochons and the tiles, but I didn't do a really good clean up job of all the tiles- there were gazillions of them.... The shiny sealer fixed the issue for my eyes. So even though the cause of the two issues is from different sources, it seems to me that the effect is the same visually.
I find with mosaics that we are all learning all the time, and different materials give different effects, and there are ways we can improvise or work around issues. Sharing of information is important.
Anyway this is Part One, I will come back with Part Two when I have some grouted samples to show you. Stay tuned my fellow creatives. Karen Baker.