‘Hate invokes a very strong emotion.’ a wise colleague commented once. In a time before I was more deliberately conscious about what I uttered I used the word more frequently. So I’ve reflected on my assertion that I hate grouting a near finished piece of mosaic. And I’ve decided that it’s absolutely the right word to use in this case!

There are all sorts of reasons for this. Firstly grout is a awkward old beastie. Obviously it’s messy and has a tendency to harden far quicker than I like. Disposal of any waste is a tricky old business. Oh no, you can’t just pour it down the sink. Eventually you’d end up with a downpipe with the diameter of a straw. Cleaning it off your finished piece is a bugger as well. Getting rid of that dusty film takes an age.

And so we’ll go onto the process. However hard I try to stick the tile pieces down firmly some always fall off. For this reason there’s swearing and cursing involved when I’m grouting. I can’t always find some of little blighters when they come unstuck. Additionally after I’ve thrown the spare grout away I’ll always find a couple of little spots where I haven’t filled the holes properly. This is invariably after I’ve spent ages trying to clean all the residue off my work. Arse! More swearing.

Finally grout changes the look of a mosaic and using the wrong colour can alter something detrimentally that’s taken hours to create. I’ve learnt this to my cost and today’s photo is an example. It’s a gift that I made for my friend, the second Martha Stewart . The dragonfly got lost in the background after I’d used some new grout that was slightly lighter than normal. I partially resurrected it by colouring its outline with black ink. Martha loved it nonetheless but I was secretly a bit disappointed. Still, you live and learn.

Of course, the key to making the procedure as pain-free as possible is in the preparation. Good glue in the first place helps,. I’ve discovered recently that not all PVA is the same animal. And before I grout I’ll pick over the piece for loose tiles. It’s not completely foolproof but it helps.

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