Creating Photo Mosaics

8 Oct


Title of workshop: Creating Photo Mosaics

By: Bob Gersztyn

The workshop is conducted by Bob Gersztyn, who is a semi-retired freelance photographer. Mr. Gersztyn has over 50,000 images in his archive ranging in subject matter from rock concerts, Native American pow wow’s and weddings to flowers, mountains and cityscapes. He has created hundred’s of collages over the past 4 decades. His current mosaic style evolved over the past 25 year period until he developed the unique photo mosiac construction technique that he will teach in the class. He has sold his collages in gift shops and galleries like Made In Oregon and Bush Barn for as much as $500.00. Hundreds of Gersztyn’s photographs have been published in dozens of books, magazines, newspapers, film and electronic publications including Blues Review, Guitar Player, Jesus Rocks The World, LIVE Magazine, The Wittenburg Door and the Statesman Journal to name some.

Tom Petty Collage copy

Students will construct a collage comprised of 9 or more 4×6 photos that will fill a 14×18 inside perimeter, with a 1″ border and a 16×20 outside one. The style of the technique uses alternating raised and flush 2″ squares, giving the illusion of a 3 dimensional effect as well as that of movement. The mosaics constructed will consist of 63 – 2″ squares made up of cut up photographs and black core foam core. After the mosaic is completed, a front mat can be placed over it and the students will take their completed art home to frame if they so choose.

Household items to bring to class, if available (I will bring my own tools so that people can use them, if necessary.)

  1. Utility razor knife.
  2. 12″ Carpenter square.
  3. 24″ metal straight edge.
  4. Sharp lead pencil.
  5. Black Sharpie to mark on plastic.
  6. 20″x20″ piece of cardboard.
  7. soft 12″ square of cloth or handkerchief.
  8. 10-20 small photograph prints measuring 4×6 inches or less that will be cut up for the collage (so don’t bring an original priceless print, bring a copy.)

The class will be offered in the Fall semester 2016 at Chemeketa community college here in Salem, Oregon.

One 10 minute break, after the 1st and 2nd hour.

  1. Planning
  2. What is a photo mosaic? Example
  3. How and why did the idea come about? Driftwood photos, slide shows, wall murals, Made In Oregon collages, early collages like Dylan cut up.
  4. Getting started on creating your own.
  5. You will construct a photo mosaic comprised of anywhere from 9-15 of your             favorite 4×6 size photographs.
  6. The outer perimeter of the finished mosaic will be 16×20
  7. The inside perimeter can be 12 x 16 to 14 x 18 comprised of anywhere             from 48 to 63 individual 2″ squares.

010 Grateful Dead Collage

  1. Before you begin you want to make sure that you have the right images in the                          correct format.
  2. Your collage could be comprised of 9 different images or only 1 in different             formats.

a.. Color, B&W, Lithograph, different colored filters, Many Photoshop                                          styles, etc..

  1. It could also be a single Image enlarged to a 14″x18″ print.


  1. One 32 x 40 sheet of black core foam core will produce 4 – 16 x 20 pieces
  2. Using a straight edge and razor knife, cut foam core into 16 x 20 pieces, so             each student has 2 – 16 x 20 pieces.
  3. Take your photographs and apply 3M mounting adhesive to the back of each and trim to the edges.
  4. Then spread the photos out on a 16 x 20 piece of black core foam core.
  5. position the foam core either horizontal or vertical.
  6. Begin to arrange the photos or 4×6 pieces of paper with the ideas that             you will shoot or use existing images that you have at home, within the                                           perimeter of your 16 x 20 sheet of foam core, in an aesthetically and                                       compositionally pleasing arrangement.
  7. This is the most important step of your final mosaic appearance.
  8. If you have too many photos to fit in the space, it doesn’t matter,                         because next week, when we cut the photos up into 2″ squares, you will be                                     discarding some of the squares and overlap parts of the images.
  9. Next week bring a thick piece of cardboard or other material to use as a cutting surface to use the razor knife on, without damaging the table surfaces.


  1. Creating the mosaic.
  2. Position piece of 16 x 20 foam core in the vertical or horizontal position as desired.
  3. With your square set for 1″ mark off the entire perimeter using a lead pencil and then with the straight edge draw lines to create a solid border on one of your                                 16 x 20 pieces of foam core.
  4. Using the 2nd 16 x 20 piece of foam core, arrange all your photos and experiment with             compositions based on color and which direction the images face.
  5. Use 12 -15, 4 x 6 images, even though they take up more space than is             available, at this time.
  6. Once you have what seems to be the best arrangement, begin cutting up all the 4 x 6                         prints into 2″ squares and place them back on the foam core, with the 1″ border.
  7. As you place the 6 – 2″ squares on the foam core, try to eliminate squares and                         create some overlapping of images, until you have exactly 63 – 2″ squares                                       arranged in a pattern that pleases you and that you find enjoyable to look at, that                                  fits within the borders.
  8. With a soft lead pencil or a pen that writes on resin coated photos, number all the 2″                         squares beginning on   the top from left to right and proceed numbering each one                           in a descending order until all 63 are numbered, so it will be easier to reassemble                                   next week.
  9. When numbering the squares do not press hard or you will score the number into the front emulsion. Best to use a sharpie that writes on glass and plastic.
  10. Make sure the ink is quick drying and non smudging.

1 Collage Rolling Stones

III.  Completing the mosaic.

  1. Take the 16 x 20 piece of foam core that isn’t marked with a border and set your square for 2″. After scoring the foam core with a pencil and metal straight edge, use a      razor knife and metal straight edge to cut up the foam core into 2″ squares and 1″ strips            for the borders.
  2. After you have 32 – 2″ squares cut and 6 – 1″ strips 12′ to 14″ long you can             begin the pre-assembly of your mosaic.
  3. Place your 16 x 20 piece of foam core with the 1″ border on the table in front of you, in either the horizontal or vertical position, depending on your choice.
  4. Glue 1″ strips on the left and top border of the piece of 16 x 20 foam core to             create a true square to begin from.

2 Then beginning with square #1 in the upper left hand corner begin placing the                             cut up 2″ picture squares in an alternating pattern.

  1. Begin with a 2″ square of black core foam core and glue photo square             #1 to it and then glue the raised image to the 16 x 20 mat.
  2. We will only use spray adhesive glue for the borders, but for the                                                2″ squares we will use 3M mounting adhesive.
  3. Continue this pattern with all 63 – 2″ squares, until the mosaic is             completed at the lower right hand corner.
  4. Take your last 2 – 1″ strips or segments and create the foam core border on the right                             side and the bottom.
  5. Since your mosaic probably outgrew the 1″ border by a fraction or two of an             inch, you may have to trim it to size. Once these borders are completed, the                                    mosaic is finished, other than placing a mat with a 1″ border over it, of any color                               you choose, but white usually works best, it is ready to be framed.
  6. If you wish to hang it on a wall, you need to frame it. The best way to do this is to order your frames from a wholesale supplier. One place is I usually            get a 16 x20 deep canvas frame and then get a 16×20 sheet of non glare plexiglass to            place over it.
  7. Optional Extra Credit.
  8. If anyone completes their project in less than the allotted time, they can begin a second one, if they purchase additional foam core.
  9. If you want to make a mat for your mosaic purchase a 32 x 40 sheet of white mat board at affordable framing and cut it up into 4 16 x 20 pieces dividing the cost among 4          people or keeping it to use later.






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