It all started with the glass. I found scrap glass for sale on Yahoo auction Japan. I bought 4 kg (8.8 pounds) for about $50...YES! The glass was a mix of stained glass, sea glass and bits of beach glass and broken decorative glass. It arrived all mixed in one bag, so I needed to separate it all (made my daughter do it) I ended up with mostly red, blue, pearl and yellow with some black, green and clear. I was so tired after separating all of this (100% my daughter)
-Glass is sharp, so be careful
-This can be done on plastic, but in Japan sheet glass is cheaper.
-The bigger the glass/plastic the thicker it should be.
-Figure out where you want to hang/put this and then decide on the size.
-Be careful hanging heavy stuff from the ceiling! I needed to add joist bracing before hanging this bad boy.
Step 1: Build Your Frame
The frame is a securely built box that can hold the weight of the glass.
I built a big chunky frame out of scrap wood and then had a piece of glass cut to fit in the frame perfectly. The frame has a lip that the glass sits on and wood is screwed in behind it to hold it securely in place, just like a picture or a mirror.
-You can buy a heavy picture frame instead of building the frame yourself. Just make sure there is enough room behind the glass to fit in lights.
-You can buy a large mirror and remove the silver backing and use that instead.
Step 2: Glue Down Your Glass
This is the finished frame after a couple coats of Jacobean Briwax. The glass is in and secure!
It's time to glue down your mosaic.
I did this all freehand. I intended on laying every piece of glass out first, but this way was easier for me. I got my design idea from two stained glass pendants already hanging up in my house. Those are pictured later on.
Instead of free-handing, you can lay out your entire design first, trace with a white board marker and take a picture. You can also lay out the design first and then go through with your glue without removing the glass pieces from the window.
I used a local Japanese brand of "everything" super glue. It literally says on the bottle that it can glue anything to anything. I can't recommend a glue, but anything that glues glass to glass should work well.
-Make sure the glass is glued down in a way that grout won't get under it.
-Put glue on the window first and then put glass ontop of it. I applied glue to the glass pieces first and then put them down, but this made a mess for me later on. Glue strings got ontop of the colorful glass and needed to be scraped off.
-Wear gloves when working with super glue. *I'm not wearing gloves in this picture, because I've finished gluing everything down...or so I say..
-Work fast with super glue
-Get the glass pieces as close as you can, but leave room for grout.
Step 3: Double Check the Glass!
Let the glue dry and then go through and double check every piece. I was careful and missed a few of the smaller ones. Make sure the glue is dry before you grout.
You can clean up your work area and get ready for the grout work while you're waiting for the glue to dry.
Step 4: Grouting the Glass
I used a local Japanese brand of black grout for this. I can't recommend a brand, but any black grout should work well. I put on gloves and pushed the grout into all of the cracks. It took FOREVER, so give yourself enough time.
-Keep clean up supplies nearby, like a bucket of water and sponges and towels.
-Grout dries quickly, so mix as you go.
Step 5: Smooth Out the Grout
It's all covered! I am a wiz at grout, but found this challenging! It was the uneven surface that threw me off. You'll be able to begin sponging your grout after it begins to harden in 20-30 minutes. Check your grout for directions.
This was the most difficult part! The uneven surface made it challenging for me to sponge off the grout without taking too much grout off. This took a lot of time and I even thought at one point that i'd never see the glass again. Just give it time.
-Use a big bucket and a sponge made for sponging grout.
-Dispose of the clean up water in an outside drain if you can. There will be a ton of it!
-Take your time.
Step 6: Cleaning the Glass
After sponging, I let the grout completely dry before cleaning up the glass. All of that residue you see on the glass is glue and grout dust. I scraped it off with elbow grease and polished it up nicely with a kitchen sponge and glass polish.
-Use mini flat scrapers or razors to clear build up off of glass.
-Be careful not to cut into the grout.
-Use mini metal picks to pinpoint clean
-Cut kitchen sponges into pinch sizes to polish the glass. Dab glass polish on the sponge and use a circular motion to polish.
Step 7: Final Spot Cleaning
Double check every piece of glass. Make sure every piece is spot free.
Step 8: Staining the Grout
The grout wasn't looking dark enough, so I stained it with black tube water paint. You can totally do this! The grout will drink in the color and it will effortlessly wipe off the glass. I bought small tubes of water color paint and mix drops of it in a paper cup with a little bit of water. Stain away until you get your desired colored. You won't need to polish the glass again.
Step 9: Adding Frosted Contact Paper to the Back (optional)
Some of the sea glass was too transparent in spots, so I added a frosted contact paper to the back of the light.
For the contact paper:
1. Cut the contact paper to fit perfectly. Contact paper is basically just a big sticker.
2. Mix a drop of dish soap into a spray bottle full of water.
3. Mist the entire window before applying the sticker. The water mixture lets you move the sticker around.
4. Squeegee out the water and air bubbles.
5.The sticker will start to adhere the more you squeegee until its completely stuck
Step 10: Build a Light Box
You can add lights behind you mosaic glass or around the frame. I wanted to hang mine on the ceiling, so I built a light box.
My mosaic glass frame slides right onto this light box and it anchors into the ceiling. The mosaic glass light screws into it from the sides of the light box at eight points and also anchors into the ceiling.
-Build this guy tough!
Step 11: Add Lights
I used a warm white LED strip to light my mosaic glass. You can really use anything you want.
I won't get into any wiring details, but always use extreme caution around electricity.
-Be careful with electricity!!
-Be careful hanging anything from your ceiling!
Step 12: Enjoy Your New Mosaic Light!
Here is my finished light up on the ceiling and this stained glass pendant was my design inspiration.