Digital Voucher Program

I am proud to announce my participation in the ACT Government Business support initiative “ChooseCBR”.

Simply put, the ACT government is offering $2 million available to support businesses across Canberra, and you, my customers, are the winners!

Update on ChooseCBR …

Due to technical issues, the ChooseCBR website has been temporarily suspended. This email was issued to all registered users of the program:

ChooseCBR vouchers resuming at 7am Friday 18 June

We are pleased to inform you that the ChooseCBR program will be available tomorrow Friday 18 June from 7am.

Please be aware that while customers will also have access to their vouchers from 7am, it is up to you and your business to choose from what time after 7am tomorrow to begin accepting vouchers. We will advise customers of this, and to be mindful and patient as you get back online with the program. 

Over the past seven days, changes have been made to improve the performance of the system. Testing has shown the system is now performing well in a simulated environment of 600 voucher redemptions per minute, while allowing significant numbers of customer registrations to occur at the same time. 


The ChooseCBR Team 

  1. You will be able to resume shopping after the website comes back online.
  2. New users will be able to register at that time.
  3. Please be patient on deliveries. The program involves a lot of manual processing from my end, and I have a lot of orders to process.
  4. I expect the Choose CBR Support team will send an email to all registered users advising when the program re-opens.  I will also post an update on Facebook (both the Merlin Mosaica and Merlin Lounge pages) and on my Website.

How does it work?

  1. Sign up for the program at
    – You do NOT have to be a resident of the ACT to join
    – You must be over 18 years of age
  2. Commencing Wednesday 9 June, you will receive $80 of vouchers per day to use (until the $2million runs out)
  3. You will receive 3 vouchers EVERY day:
    • $10 Voucher applicable to spends of $20 or more
    • $20 voucher applicable to spends of $40 or more and
    • $50 voucher applicable to spends of $1oo or more
  4. You can only use 1 voucher per business per day, but you can for example, use 1 voucher everyday at Merlin Mosaica
  5. You cannot combine multiple vouchers into one transaction
  6. The system is geared towards in-store shopping, so for online businesses such as mine you will have to:
    • Place your order, and select Direct Bank Transfer. Please save my Bank Details.
    • Add the voucher code into the CUSTOMER NOTES field at checkout. Also indicate if you want me to send it, or wait to combine with future orders.
    • I will enter the code into my system, redeem it and send you an adjusted invoice to pay.

So, in summary, you can get a $50 discount off any purchases or $100 or more EVERY DAY, until the pool of money is depleted.

Sign up for your vouchers and get ready to shop from the 18th June!!!

Frequently Asked Questions!

  1. Do I have to register with the program before I shop?
  2. Do I re-use the same voucher code everyday?
    • No. Once I redeem the voucher code (after you advise me what it is), it can no longer be used.
    • You can get a new one the next day.
  3. Do I have to spend the total value on one item?
    • No, the voucher is applied to the TOTAL value of the cart 
  4. Can I combine postage across orders?
    • Yes you can – just let me know that you will be making another order. Pay for postage on the first order (in case the vouchers sell out). I won’t post.
  5.  Can I save a voucher from one day and combine with another voucher on the next day?
    • No you cannot.  Vouchers are unable to be combined. The maximum voucher value is $50, and to use this, you must spend a minimum of $100 in the transaction.
  6. Can I use another voucher in another transaction with you on the same day?
    • No you cannot. You can only use one voucher per retailer per day.  You can use the other 2 vouchers in other Canberra retail outlets (but most are shop-front stores)
  7. I do not live in Canberra. Can I still register and shop with you?
    • Yes you can. As long as you are over 18 years old, you can register
  8. I have some vouchers from the previous (trial) program. Can I use these?
    • No you cannot. You should check your registration, as it could still be valid, but any vouchers will not be. I believe the voucher values have changed.
  9. When I try to register, the website asks me for an ABN
    • The webpage has three panels:
      • The PINK panel is where users of the vouchers can register with the program. You also use this area to check on your vouchers once signed up.
      • The BLUE panel includes a list of businesses that have signed up to the program, where you can shop
      • The RED panel is where businesses (such as mine) can sign up.
  10. I have entered the code. How do I know it has been accepted?
    • The system does have a manual component. I need to enter the code into my business dashboard to reserve the discount. It may happen that the pool gets depleted between you placing your order and me attempting to redeem it. I will contact you should that be the case, and you can either reduce or cancel your order, or proceed for the full amount.
    • I will send you an email message noting that the code has been accepted.
  11. I have made 2 orders under the program, and the total value of them exceeds $150. Does your free shipping for orders over $150 apply?
    • Sadly not. Each individual order must exceed $150. This program requires a lot of manual input from me. However, orders can be combined to minimise shipping costs.
  12. My order includes the QEP nippers which are on backorder. Do I have to wait till they come in to receive the rest of my order?
    • No. However, you will be charged 2 shipping charges – one for the available items, and one for the nippers.
  13. I have made a purchase. When can I expect to see my goods?
    • A fair question. As I run this business single-handedly, I will attempt to get orders out as quickly as possible. However, due to the volume of orders, delivery will be slow. Your patience is much appreciated. If you do have a deadline, please advise (pop it into the Customer Notes field along with the voucher code) and I will endeavor to assist.
    • NOTE: Backordered stock obviously will need to wait till it arrives to be shipped. As noted above, if you want the balance of your order sent beforehand, a shipping adjustment will be required.


Let’s not kid about … Mosaics can be dangerous.
We only have one body. Like it or not, we can’t get a new one, so best to look after the one we have. I’ll go through some of the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) you should be using. Make sure you have the following in your toolbox. And, more importantly, make sure you use them!


A mask is essential. With the advent of COVID-19, we have all become more aware and accepting of masks. However, COVID-19 is not the reason they should be worn when mosaicing.
Silica dust (crystalline silica) is found in some stone, rock, sand, gravel and clay. The most common form is quartz. Silica dust can be found in tiles (ceramic and glass), glass sheets, and concrete.
When these materials are worked on, silica is released as a fine dust known as respirable crystalline silica or silica dust.
Today, all states and territories in Australia have work health and safety laws that explain duty of care for employers and workers’ responsibilities.

Silicosis is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust.

It is marked by inflammation and scarring in the form of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs. It is a type of pneumoconiosis. Silicosis (particularly the acute form) is characterized by shortness of breath, cough, fever, and cyanosis (bluish skin). It may often be misdiagnosed as pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), pneumonia, or tuberculosis.
Silicosis resulted in at least 43,000 deaths globally in 2013, down from at least 50,000 deaths in 1990.
Use an N95 mask when mixing grout or adhesive, and when cutting glass, tile or shell. Work outdoors whenever possible, or have a fan running that can carry the dust away. Remember, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there!

Safety Glasses

Glass is sharp (duh!). When you cut it, glass can fly about – in big bits, and in tiny little bits.
The smallest piece in your eye can permanently damage your sight at worst, or at least put you out of action for a few days. I have nearly been blinded by a piece of POLLEN that embedded in my inner eyelid. It was unseen with the naked eye, and only visible with a microscope. Imagine how much worse a glass shard could be?
I wear corrective eyewear, but if I am using power tools, I still cover up with a pair of protective goggles, as shards can come at you from anywhere.

Mosaic Terminology

Although the concept of mosaics is simple, the terms, tools and techniques can be quite confusing. Added to this is the fact that there are many different types of mosaic – depending on the materials and the style, blah, blah …
So let’s de-mystify some of the terms used.
  • TESSERAE: a small block of stone, tile, glass, or other material used in the construction of a mosaic. Essentially, the ‘bits’ you stick down. Singular is tessera, often just referred to as “tess”.
  • SUBSTRATE: your foundation or board. Can be a tile, a rock, paver, purpose made board (Wedi, Marmox, hydroban, etc), cement sheet, MDF, plywood, glass, perspex (acrylic), metal, something made from layers of cement-based adhesive & mesh, or a 3D structure: terracotta, cement, a mannequin, a sculpture made up on an armature, or bought in a shop … the list goes on. Note: timber or porous substances should be sealed as a preparatory step in your mosaics.
  • INTERSTICES: a big word meaning the spaces between your tess. Can be large or small. Larger spaces however do increase the risk of grout cracking. My personal preference is to keep them as small as possible, but there are times when a larger gap can be an important factor in the design. In my WIP of a seated nude, I have a wider gap describing the shoulder blade, for example.
  • ANDAMENTO: The visual flow and direction within a mosaic produced by the placement of rows of tesserae. Many different styles (opus).

Instructional Videos

I highly recommend the series of videos by Peter Twining. They are easily found on YouTube under his channel ”Treasury Road”. Peter has a no-nonsense Aussie style, and his information is clear and concise, and well-researched.
Subscribe to this channel – you’ll be glad you did.

How wide should my Grout Lines be?

A lot of this is personal preference, but there are some solid reasons why thinner grout lines are better.
  • Larger expanses of grout are more subject to moisture and temperature changes – so can crack
  • Grout can fade – and so becomes pretty drab
  • You’ve spent good money (often), time and effort on your tesserae – so why draw the eye to the grout?
If you are working on a geometric piece, and trying to achieve symmetry, it is really important to have a consistent width in your interstices – but how?
A simple method is to use the tile spacers that professional tilers use – those little crosses of whitish plastic. Wedge them in between your tess. Readily available at tile shops or hardware stores.

Calculating Tile Quantities

How much tile do you need? Obviously this depends on the shapes and size of the tiles you want to use, but it also depends on how wide you plan to have your grout lines, and the irregularity of the shape. More irregular shapes require more cutting – so more wastage.

Follow these 3 steps, and you’ll get a pretty good idea.

  1. Measure Your Area:
    Measure the dimensions of the surface you would like to mosaic and calculate the area using these formulae:

    • RECTANGLE AREA = length x width
    • TRIANGLE AREA = 1/2 x width x height
    • CIRCLE AREA = 0.785 x diameter x diameter
    • 1M2 = 1000cm2
  2. Correct grout space between Mosaic tiles:
    If you use the rule of thumb: 10% of the size of mosaic tile with a maximum of 1 cm (10mm) you will hardly ever go wrong.
    Grout is an essential structural component to mosaic. This spacing is common with stone, ceramic and glass tile because it ensures enough grout will penetrate between the tiles and seal over the adhesive underneath.

    • For 10mm to 20mm tiles a grout space of approximately 2mm can be used as a guide.
    • For tiles that are larger than 20mm use the 10% rule but do not ever go larger than 1cm as this will weaken your mosaic.
  3. Are You Cutting the Tiles?
    Cutting a tile in pieces theoretically decreases the amount of tile you need because you will have more pieces, so there will be more grout spaces in the mosaic. More grout lines means more grout and less tile. If you are cutting the 20mm mosaic tiles in half or smaller you decrease the amount of tiles needed to cover an area by approximately 25%.
    However cutting increases breakage and wastage – so add 10%.

Scoring and Cutting Glass

Some people complain about glass chipping when they score and break it. I was having a conversation recently with a person who has been involved in glass all his working life (and he is of similar vintage to me). His advice was:

  1. Don’t score too hard. Sometimes the score-line may almost be invisible. As glass is considered an amorphous liquid, all you are trying to achieve is a break of the surface tension.
  2. If the glass has texture, always score on the flat side.
  3. If the glass has a film treatment (mirror, dichroic etc.), score on the untreated side.

I also know that many people struggled with tidying up edges of shapes they cut. Not everyone has a grinder. Some people are limited for space (tell me about it), or just HATE power tools…
Have a look at this little video from Delphi Glass. It is a great demonstration on how to use a variety of hand tools. 

Then, when you have your shape and are pretty happy with it, use the Diamond Hand pads we sell to smooth off the edges.


Your Accounts on the Web-Site

I never realised that some of you don’t like to log into your account on the web-site.

Maybe you can’t remember your passwords (I know that’s easy enough to do), or don’t know where to get them when they are sent out on creation (they come via email – and if you can’t find it, look in your “Junk” folder), or you are worried about leaving your details on a site.

So, let me explain a few things. And yes, I do have a fair idea of what I’m talking about – I’ve worked in IT for 40 years.

  • You don’t need to create an account or login. This just means that you may have to re-enter your details each time you buy (depending on your settings, your browser may retain your details), and you won’t accrue loyalty points which give you a discount.
  • If you are concerned about security of your information, you need to know that as soon as you purchase, I have your address, phone number and email details – even if you don’t create an account. I have to retain these records for a period by law.
  • I do not retain your bank details – I never see them – they are handled by Square (for credit card payments), PayPal or Afterpay.
  • You won’t get spammed. I have a lot of security features built into my site, and whilst I do mail-out newsletters, I don’t spam mail you, or provide my customer listings to anyone else.
  • I cannot see your password, so I can’t log onto your account.  This is one reason why it is very difficult for me to take orders over the phone, or via email.

It is helpful for me to get feedback on the way the site works. I know it so well, and know how to use it, as I designed it. It is always helpful to see it through other’s eyes. I will never forget the first piece of feedback I got – the site looked great (I thought), but someone commented that there were too many key-clicks to actually get into the product and order. So I changed it.  I do listen – so if something gives you the irrits – let me know! I may not be aware of it.

Have a lovely day all – Ali

Time Poor? Mega-Mix Packs may be just the thing.

We have introduced Mega-Mix packs. Do you have a favourite colour, but can’t decide which products to buy? Don’t have the time to sit down and decide which ones to get!. or perhaps you’re on a budget and can’t say no (I know that one only too well).

We’ve introduced Mega-Mix packs – in three sizes:

  • A = $25 worth of product
  • B = $50 worth of product
  • C = $100 worth of product

We have selected a variety of products to pop into each pack. You might get some beads, some micro-tiles, or even some glasstix in your packs.

Initially, we will be offering up colour packs: Red, Blue, Green, yellow, white, black, purple, pink, teal/turquoise….

We have plans for different packs based on themes and colour-combinations… Stay tuned

Adhesives and Tools

I am really proud of the wonderful range of adhesives and tools we now have to offer our clients.

We proudly brought the No Days range of Adhesives to Australia, and offer the straight adhesive film, as well as groutless adhesive in black, pewter and clear. We also have the wonderful No Days Heat activated mesh available. Please check out the great product review by Peter Twining of Treasury Road on YouTube.

Some have queried if the products can be used outside. Well, yes they can! I have made pavers that have been in the Canberra winter with no issues, and the American wholesaler has even used the Groutless film to make a bird-bath. The only proviso here is that the Pewter and Black films may fade over time in direct sun, but their adhesive integrity is maintained. See below for a blog post from 2013 relating to using them in a bird-bath…

We are also thrilled to add the Australian-made Prep Multi-Use Adhesive to our range. This is Australia’s answer to MAC glue. It has been around for 20 years, and is used by tilers. It is quite liquid, but unlike PVA glues (such as Weldbond), won’t re-liquefy once cured, so is suitable for outside use. (TIP: to clean it off any tile fronts, just moisten with acetone – nail-polish remover).

Our range of tools may be only small, but they are very handy: mosaic picks, flexible grouting bowls, grout spreaders and Toyo flexible headed glass cutters (oil-filled). All very handy products that I use whenever I mosaic.

NOTE: I use ALL these adhesives and tools. I also try to sample as many of the products as I can, but my time is limited….

Have a look at our range here:


Fish – August 2020

Look at this lovely piece by Jo Osborne – featuring our mother-of-pearl fish-scale tiles. Beautiful work, Jo!

Mosaic Jewellery

I have become quite enamored of Mosaic Jewellery. My biggest hurdle so far is finding bezels that I like! I am going to go down the path of finding a silversmith who could make some for me (that I may be able to on-sell).

However, I have made a couple of small pendants, and have ideas for many more. For now, I am using commerically available bezels, and will have a number up on my site soon

The Sea Stars pendant sold even before it was complete, but the 2nd one (Precious) is for me.