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How to Make a Santa Gemma Framed Mosaic

Courtney Seghetti demonstrates her technique for creating a Santa Gemma art piece.

After graduating with a dual degree in biology and psychology, Courtney Seghetti worked as a brain researcher, but she was not satisfied with her life. When she went on vacation to visit family in Italy, she discovered her ancestors worked with glass and tile doing mosaic work. There, she became hooked on the art form and upon returning home to Indianapolis, Ind., she quit her job and opened up her own business selling mosaic pieces.

Materials and Tools:

artificial stone
wheeled tile nippers
mastic adhesive
sanded grout
plywood board
picture frame stock
4 flat steel braces
miter saw
Contact paper
V-notched trowel
grout float
bucket for mixing grout
bucket of water
grout sponge
dry cloth
picture hanging wire and tools to attach
latex gloves
nail gun or hammer and finish nails
screws and screwdriver


1. Cut plywood board to desired size.

2. Draw a rough sketch of the Santa Gemma mosaic on the board.

3. Cut stones with wheeled tile nippers and place cut pieces directly on top of the drawing:

  • Start with the outline of the head
  • Work the entire design, filling in with smaller stone pieces in the desired color palette until the entire mosaic is completed.
  • Do not adhere the pieces to the board at this time.

4. Cut a piece of Contact paper to the mosaic size, peel off the paper backing and place the sticky side of the Contact paper sheet down onto the mosaic pieces. Apply heat to the Contact paper with a hair dryer to be sure the adhesive sticks to the mosaic stones.

5. Apply mastic adhesive to plywood board using the V-notched trowel.

6. Pick up the Contact paper sheet with the stones now stuck to it and place it stone side down into the adhesive on the plywood board. Press the stones into the glue.

7. Peel off the Contact paper sheet from the stones.

8. Rearrange any stones that have been misplaced or moved in the transfer process.

9. Let dry for 24 to 48 hours.


10. Cut frame stock to appropriate size making sure to miter the corners at a 45-degree angle.

11. Glue or nail the frame onto the plywood. Screw a flat steel bracket to the back of the plywood on each side overlapping the frame to secure the plywood into the frame.

12. Mix sanded grout with water to the consistency recommended by the manufacturer.

13. Spread the grout onto the mosaic surface with a trowel and push the grout into the crevices between the stones using a grout float.

14. Wipe off the remaining grout with a trowel using a squeegee-like action.

15. Remove the grout from the stones using a damp sponge. Dip the sponge in a bucket of water, then wring out the sponge as much as possible. Lightly wipe off the remaining grout left on top of the mosaic stone pieces until clean. Buff the stones with a dry cloth if a haze forms.

16. Let dry 24 to 48 hours.

17. Apply two coats of a sealer, letting it dry 30 minutes between applications.

18. Attach a wire to the back of the Santa Gemma mosaic frame using appropriate tools.

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