Nowruz, meaning “new day” in Persian, is an ancient celebration signaling the beginning of spring. Festivities begin when the sun crosses the equator on the spring equinox. Family members gather around a traditional Haft Seen arrangement that usually contains several symbolic items, including mirrors to represent self-reflection.

Āina-kāri is a historical Persian art form in which a surface, often an architectural structure, is covered with mirror mosaics. Pieces are arranged in intricate geometric patterns, and colorful mirrors in blue and green shades are sometimes used as accents. The artwork above, Pentagon by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, a contemporary Iranian artist, is an example of Āina-kāri.

If you have an MFA art kit for this activity, you already have all the materials you need to create your own dazzling Persian-inspired mirror mosaic! If not, start by gathering the materials listed below. Before you begin, take a look at some of the inspiration patterns that can be found in Āina-kāri. Try incorporating one of them into your mosaic, or create a design from your own imagination.

Artwork and instructions courtesy of Nayereh Doosti.

mosaic of geometric shapes of various colors arranged in a pattern inside a small wooden box


You will need:

  • multi-surface adhesive glue
  • a small paintbrush
  • small glass, mirrored, or plastic mosaic tiles (triangle, diamond, square, and rectangle)
  • a mosaic base
    • For indoor mosaics, choose a sturdy, smooth, flat surface that will not bend such as wood, plexiglas, glass, or terra-cotta. The relative size of your mosaic tiles should match the size of the base (small tiles, small base; large tiles, large base).
  • a pencil
  • a piece of paper slightly larger than your mosaic base
  • newspaper, a tablecloth, or kraft paper
  • optional: grout, popsicle stick or foam brush, disposable gloves, eye protection, and a sponge.

Mosaic Inspiration

two black-and-white outline of mosaics made from rectangles, triangles, and diamonds

Use one of these as inspiration to create your mosaic—or create your own design! Whatever you create, it should be symmetrical, meaning each half is a mirror image of the other half.


Step 1

various art materials laid out on table, including pentagon-shaped wooden box, paintbrush, mosaic tiles, and a container of glue
Let’s get ready! Cover your table or work surface with newspaper, a tablecloth, or kraft paper to protect it. If you have an MFA art kit, place the materials on top of the protected table.

Step 2

Planning out mosaic pattern by placing and arranging tiles on piece of paper
Before you start piecing your mosaic together, create your design. Trace the shape of your mosaic base on a piece of paper, then play around with your pieces inside the outline to map out your design and arrange where your tiles will go. Get creative! Use colorful tiles to create soft accents and mirrored tiles to make your mosaic glow. Don’t forget to make your piece symmetrical!

Step 3

using paintbrush to apply glue onto one side of mosaic tile
When your pattern is complete, start building your mosaic! Pick a tile that will be in the center of your mosaic design, and use a small paintbrush to apply a thin layer of glue onto the back. You can hold the tile in your hand or place it on the table, whichever is easier for you. Press it onto the center of your mosaic base! Note: Weldbond adhesive is best for mosaics that will only be used indoors.

Step 4

placing and arranging mosaic tiles inside pentagon-shaped wooden box
Keep adding tiles, working outward from the center to ensure your design will fit. It’s always easier to expand outward toward the edge.

Step 5

pressing down on mosaic tiles arranged in box
Keep going! Add more glued mosaic tiles to complete your design. If you have extra space and pieces left over, you can always experiment by adding more.

Step 6

using cloth to wipe over glued tiles
Gently wipe the surface of the tiles with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any dried glue and fingerprints. Be careful to not use too much water.

Step 7

using cloth to dry tile surfaces
Use a dry cloth or paper towel to remove water droplets and make your tiles shine. Place your mosaic on a flat surface to dry for 24 hours.

Step 8

completed mosaic pattern inside pentagon-shaped wooden box
Once dry, display your mosaic in a location where it will reflect the light!

Optional: To protect your mosaic and give it an even finish, grout can be applied to the surface of your design after the glue has dried for at least 24 hours. Wear gloves and eye protection, then follow the instructions on the container to mix or add water to create the grout as needed. Place a large amount of grout on top of the mosaic and spread it around using a stick or foam brush, making sure it gets into all of the cracks. Use a damp sponge to wipe off extra grout, wiping in a straight line in one direction. Let your mosaic dry.

About the Artist

Nayereh Doosti is an artist from Shiraz, Iran.