Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Art Project: The Making of a Mosaic

I have been wanting to make a mosaic for awhile now. I always envisioned myself purchasing old plates from  a second hand store, smashing them to bits, and then creating something beautiful out of them.

Last weekend on a team building excursion to Little Shop of Crafts in the Upper West Side, I passed up painting and pottery for a chance to mosaic. The process was a lot safer than my fantasy of breaking dishes and relatively easy. Little Shop of Crafts is geared towards children and parties (birthdays and bridal showers) but can be fun for all ages. While I was there I saw a few couples on dates and many adults intently working on their art pieces.

I chose to make a trivet. My design inspiration was a peacock feather. I painted the base in three layers to give it some dimension. The colors I chose were blue, silver, and green. After I was done painting, the color was sealed to give the wood a glossy sheen.

I had a variety of tile colors to choose from. The tiles provided were 1/2 inch squares. 

I used tile cutter pliers to modify the shapes of the tiles. It was important to hold the pliers firmly and shield the tile while cutting so that the tile would not fly away.

Now the design. I wanted to make a peacock feather but could not envision what a peacock feather looked like from memory. I had no print out or example from a book to look at. I tried a few different ways to come up with a configuration to represent a peacock feather but couldn't get it quite right. Abandoning the idea, I went with a circular design consisting of purple, mirror, green, and blue tiles. I also threw in a few plastic jewels to break up the pattern.

I used Elmer's Glue to secure the tiles and jewels in place. I also put painter's tape around the edges of the trivet to protect the paint job from the grout.

That was it for day one. The glue had to dry for 24 hours. I found the design and glueing to be the hardest part of making a mosaic. It was tedious and required a lot of patience. The smaller the tiles, the longer it took to glue. Also, there were a few times when the corners of the tiles cut me. 

For my trivet, I used about a cup of grout. I added water and mixed the grout powder until it became a paste. I then slathered it over the tiles and completely covered the surface, filling in all the spaces in between the tiles.

After 15 minutes, I used a damp sponged to wipe off the excess grout.

I then waited three hours for the grout to dry.

Time to peel off the painter's tape!

I cleaned off the tiles with all purpose cleaner. Something like Windex works just as well. This is the finished project. I am happy to say my mosaic is a success!

711 Amsterdam Avenue
New York NY 10025

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