It’s easy to admire mosaics! The bright colors and fun designs are perfect for bringing cheer to a room or admiring on a bright summer day. I have always loved looking at them and in the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to try making one! DIY mosaic projects are very popular and if you have any old chipped plates laying around they can be a great way to reuse some old materials too!
I don’t know why I’ve never tried making a mosaic before – I think I was always a little bit intimidated by the idea of grouting. Thankfully this process turned out to be pretty easy! If you have been considering your own DIY mosaic project then this is the perfect place for you!
Learn Something New with Kristin
Feature 12 – DIY Mosaic Projects
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What is a Mosaic?
Mosaics are a form of artwork that has been enjoyed by humans for a very long time. Samples of mosaics have been found in ancient ruins from as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C. There are a few different types of mosaics but the broad definition is pretty simple.
A mosaic is a picture or piece of artwork created by assembling small pieces of glass, stone or other material within a binding ingredient. Historically they were very popular in churches but in modern times have been enjoyed as household and garden decorations.
The term mosaic is thought to come from the Italian word mosaico which can ultimately be traced back to the Greek word mouseios which means ‘from the muses’. This origin seems suitable for an artistic pursuit!
The Language of Mosaics
While researching the various methods for creating a mosaic I learned that this form of art even has its own language! Since I found some of these terms confusing while researching supplies and ideas I have added some of them below to help you out!
- Tessera – The individual pieces of material. Glass, tiles, and stone are most common but mosaics have also been made with shells and beads.
- Interslice – The space between the tesserae, when your grout would typically go.
- Opus – The way in which the various tessera are cut and placed on the mosaic.
Supply List for DIY Mosaic Projects
Creating a mosaic requires very little in terms of supplies. You might even be able to source some of these from around your home!
- Hammer or Glass Cutters – I did purchase glass cutters for this project but I ended up breaking most of my glass using a hammer. It was faster and I liked the variety of shapes it produced. Please note – if you buy pre-broken tiles or don’t feel like using broken glass then you might not need these at all!
- Grouting – You will definitely need this! It’s pretty easy to find in most craft stores but I ordered mine from Amazon. You can even find it in different colors so make sure you pick the shade that’s right for your project!
- Glue – What type of glue you use will depend on your project. Different surfaces (clay pots, wood, glass panes) sometimes require different glues. Make sure that whatever you choose is rated for your backing material. I used Weldbond which seems to be a popular choice that’s rated for a lot of different surfaces. You should also keep in mind the location your project will be displayed (indoors or outdoors)
- Backing Material – I used a wooden cutout I picked up at the dollar store. It fit perfectly with my beach themed bathroom! I have seen mosaics made from almost everything from clay pots to picture frames to old stumps! Your choice of backing material is entirely up to you! Use your imagination and pick something that suits your home or garden!
- Tessera – Ha! See I used one of those fancy new words! Basically, you just need something to create your pattern. This can range from old shells you have found on the beach to pre-broken tiles or specially made mosaic tiles and pebbles found in most craft stores. Since I am a frugal crafter and I didn’t have any old household plates I was willing to break I stopped by our local Dollar Tree and grabbed a few.
Other Items You Might Find Helpful
- A pair of work gloves – These are especially useful if you plan on breaking your own glass. Glass is sharp, protect your hands!
- Eye Protection – While I broke my glass between two garbage bags to try and lessen any flying shards accidents do happen. When it comes to your eyesight it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry!
- Rubber Gloves – Mostly for spreading the grout. You can use your work gloves if you don’t mind getting them messy but rubber gloves are easier to clean up and will still protect your fingers from any sharp edges. If you are using materials without sharp edges and don’t mind messy hands then these may not be necessary!
- Plastic Sheeting/Garbage Bags – These are useful for protecting your work surface from the grout. They can also be used to contain small shards of glass.
- Containers to Separate Colors – I used old boxes but it was definitely easier to keep the various colors I used separated while making my design.
Making DIY Mosaic Projects, A Quick Tutorial!
Planning your Design
Once you have decided to create a mosaic it’s a good idea to plan it out a little bit before buying some of your supplies.
- Choose the basic idea – Do you want to make a wall hanging? Cover the top of a table or encase a planter? Pick out where the project will live once it’s completed. Will your mosaic be indoors or outdoors? Will your project be in a place children, people or pets might rub against it?
- Consider your Color Scheme – Do you want your mosaic to be part of your holiday or seasonal decorations? Or, would you rather it match your typical decor?
Figuring out these details will help you in sourcing your supplies. I highly recommend that you use beads or smooth mosaic tiles if your project will be near children, pets or other people. Even with grouting mosaics made with broken glass (like mine) can still have sharp edges. My mosaic is going to be hung in a place where this is not a worry.
Knowing your color scheme and the ultimate size of your project will also make sure that you source materials in the right colors and that you buy enough to complete the project. No one likes rushing to the store because they ran out of a crucial ingredient!
Starting Your Project
Once you have gathered all of your materials it’s time to start! Break your glass and tiles if you need too and separate the various pieces by color. Make sure to use gloves and eye protection!
I broke my glass plates out on my back porch. To contain any glass shards I first laid down a garbage bag, placed the plate upside down on top of it and laid a second garbage bag on top before tapping it with my hammer. It’s not necessary to hit with a lot of force and send things flying! After a few hits, you can lift up the top ba and see if there are any pieces you want to break further. If you have bought pre-broken or crafted mosaic tiles then you can skip this step!
Figure Out Your Design
Lay your mosaic pieces out on our project base to make sure you like the design and flow of your project. This part is a little bit like putting together a puzzle and you might have to spend a bit of time making sure it’s laid out just right! It’s definitely smart to do this now before the pieces have been glued down and you find a problem too late to change it. If you are using broken glass pieces make sure to wear your gloves!
Glue Your Pieces Down
Once you are completely happy with your design glue them to your base. Follow the instructions for the glue you purchased and make sure you let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Make sure that you double (or triple!) check that each piece has been glued down. Trust me – the Weldbond I used takes 24 hours to cure fully (though it’s mostly dry after an hour). Since I neglected to go back and check after an hour I ended up having to wait a second day before moving on since I somehow forgot to glue a piece. Don’t be me!
Add the Grout
The instructions for your grout may be different then mine as there are different types. You should always follow the directions that come with your grout! Typically this will include mixing a ratio of powder to water and drying times.
Once mixed properly spread your grout using your hands or a putty knife. Make sure that the cracks and edges of your mosaic tiles are fully covered. If you are using sharp tiles I highly suggest wearing gloves for this step!
Once the grout has been spread there will typically be directions for letting it sit before you scrape off the excess. Mine took about 20 minutes to set into a still wet but thicker paste. I used a an old dishrag to wipe off any extra grout that was hiding my tiles or spilling over the edges.
Once you are satisfied let the grout cure completely according to the instructions. Once it has completely dried you can go back and polish off any remaining grout dust and shine up your mosaic with a rag.
As with all art, you should be proud of what you created and display your DIY mosaic projects somewhere they can be enjoyed! have fun with your project and take pride in knowing that YOU made it.