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You are here: Home Woorabinda Mosaic Project 2014 Sandy's Mosaic blog (c) OzMosaics - Flexible Camera and video stand OzMosaics

Mosaic Tip - torso - leftovers

 torso mannequin mosaic artWhat to do with thinset (cement)  and grout leftovers?
Laticrete leftovers are awesome!

Buy a torso mannequin moulds and torso cement mix: available from OzMosaics Studio and Online Mosaic Store.

(c) Sandy Robertson OzMosaics


All you need is passion, imagination, Vaseline, a mould/substrate and concrete based leftovers!

For over 12 years I have been using thinset in greased moulds, silicon moulds, biscuit cutter shapes, making fabulous mosaic "mouths", texturing backgrounds, freeforming in Gladwrap, on work in progress projects and stuffing into crevices in walls, paths and "whatever".   The list goes on....

However, I decided I wanted to make sculptures for the garden using mosaic leftovers.   The torso project shown here is only one of many mosaic moulds for a mosaic sculpture.  Just look around you - you will be amazed what you can transform with concrete to make fabulous artyfarty substrates.




torso mould mannequin ozmosaicsOften after teaching a mosaic workshop, I have grout/thinset/scraps leftover, or perhaps I have mixed a little too much for the adhesive/grout for a project.

Rather than discarding the leftover cement products (wrapped in newspaper and going to the landfill), I grab a greased plastic torso and spoon all the leftovers from my mixing tools, mixing bowls etc. into the prepared mould. 


It's a good feeling to use the leftovers in an art form and I like to watch the sculpture grow over time.


No matter if it’s a spoonful of cement/grout or more, instead of discarding the leftovers, create a concrete sculpture (mini or maxi!)


-Simply grease (use Vaseline or similar) any suitable vessel/mould and start filling with the “mosaic leftovers”.

-Consider if you want to toss in some smalti scraps, shards, keys, rocks, screws, china, whatever to adorn the front of the sculpture. Perhaps chunks of polystyrene that you can remove later if you want little caves or places to add some 3-D mosaics later on.  Barbed wire can be awesome!
-Add some hooks or wire loops, if required - you might want to hang things on the front later on. 

-Whether still a wet mix, dry or lumpy, toss it in and mush it all together.

-Throw those bits of mesh, chicken wire, shards, polystyrene, whatever ---  and watch your mosaic sculpture grow over time. --Using polystyrene will "lighten" the completed torso or sculpture.


torso-wip-ozmosaicsI like to use plastic torsos as moulds.



Sometimes I make the full torso but I also love the more arty look of a “decaying torso”.


I am a bit bored with the full torso, currently I like a more broken down look.


To take away the boring boutique shaped torso, try greasing cardboard or plastic/objects etc to “fence off” some of the mould shape to create something different. 



Try making free form moulds from a mix of diluted  Weldbond/wet sand, draped with plastic/Gladwrap  (Ceranwrap)-  for interesting effects.


You can check the progress of your sculpture anytime as long as the leftovers are setup.


Just turn it out and take a look.


Want more? No problem.  Put the w.i.p.  sculpture back in the mould and keep adding leftovers.


Make sure you have some “wet mix” to blend in all the more crumbly leftovers.


Use your imagination and create “holes”, special effects etc with other greased items in the wip sculpture.

Great impressions are made from greased leaves, metal objects, cardboard tubes, plastics etc. Just remember to grease each item.


You can create smooth sculptures, ancient look, or combos. Use different thinset/grout colours for more special  effects.


After turning out your completed sculptures, decide to decorate in mosaic, paint or not!


torso-mould-torsoOf course, you can push in any decoration during the making of the torso, on the back/front/sides.  You can add wires or bars to extend the sculpure or leave exposed fibreglass mosaic mesh to add decorative beading, wires etc.  It's up to you whether you fill the mould or make interesting "half baked" sculptures.  That's the fun of it.


We have made great torsos at OzMosaics and the chicken wire can be trailing form the torso to shape for vines, wings; hundreds of special effects are waiting for you!


The photos show a wip torso.






cement-flowersSilicon moulds are great for cupcakes, flower shapes etc.  All you need is a tub of Vaseline, thinset/grout and your imagination.


Sometimes, we simply put the thinset leftovers on Gladwrap, roll it up and shape quirky mouths, leaves etc.








cupcakes-thinsetTry flattening out thinset and use  a greased cookie cutter/shape – create some interesting tesserae to adorn with mosaic, shards or paint.  There are many other special effects using thinset I teach my students – it’s a never ending joy. 


When greasing the "torso" or mould, use the Vaseline sparingly!  The Vaseline will even leave an impression. 

Use it to your advantage! 

Leaves, screws, shards! Consider interesting items to put on the greased inner side of the mould before plonking down all the leftovers! Just remember to GREASE all items that you don't want stuck permanently into the sculpture. 

If you want a smooth look, make up some fresh thinset and spread it over the back of the mould and allow to cure;  we have even set pots into the base of the mould so when it's turned out you have a pot set in the torso to plant and decorate.  Some also have chicken wire installed for very arty trelllis etc for plant vines etc.

If you want to hang the torso, simply insert the hanging hardware into the thinset during the build of the concrete scultpure. Easy!!!!


mosaic-mannequin-scuplptureSome torsos may not balance after turning out of the mould.  I have successfully, inserted house bricks into the torso base during "construction" and it is a perfect base -with so many options from there!
Tip: grease the bricks or wrap in Gladwrap - this enables you to remove the brick support bases if you are transporting the torso or wish to change the support base - otherwise cement them in!
Tip: I move the fully poured torsos about the workbench by placing the torso on a wheeled bench trolley (Dave makes them for me or make one from an office chair -that's another tip in the workshops)...called Molly the Trolley! ...dedicated to my Grandmother.

Have fun, share your photos with me! 
Attend an OzMosaics Mosaic Week Retreat
and make your own mosaic mannequin or
garden sculpture.



For more OzMosaics tips and tricks, book into a mosaic workshop.
Have you made your Christmas or gift decorations using tin lids and mosaic?

All my mosaic artworks with the "leftovers" are formed using Laticrete Australia products.
You may wish to test your sculptures if using other products to ensure a "good turnout".
No responsibility is accepted by OzMosaics for your sculpture experiments.
OzMosaics recommends you make professional torsos or mosaic sculptures according to the cement product specificiations.

Laticrete have a wonderful cement product which was recommended to me for the mosaic torsos -I use it to make strong, sturdy torso substrates for my clients and for professional instruction in my mosaic workshops.
The Leftover Project in this blog - is for fun and for experimenting.

(c) OzMosaics 2012  All Rights Reserved
Please acknowledge Sandy Robertson -  Studio OzMosaics if you link/reproduce/print etc this article or use in your workshops.

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