This project is time consuming but makes an amazing and personal gift. I made this for my sister for Christmas and I cant wait for her to see it! Over the last 18 years we have spent countless hours scouring the beach and climbing cliffs to collect this sea glass and I finally found a good way to display it.
- The round tabletop with grey grout has a more even top made up mostly of flat or thin pieces of sea glass and shells
- The rectangular tabletop with black grout is has a bumpy top and features broken pottery and thick pieces of sea glass of various sizes (this was my practice piece for me)
Step 1: Supplies
- Table: Select a table you would like to repurpose. You can put your mosaic directly on the original tabletop or replace it with cement backer-board (I used one that was 1/2 inch). If you use the backer-board make sure it is sufficiently supported when on the table (see here)
- Mosaic Tiles: If the table doesn't have a lip then you will need to create your own. I used 1 inch glass mosaic tiles.
- Sea glass and Other Beach Items (ex. shells, stones, pottery, etc.): I collected most of my materials and then supplemented with some bought sea glass. You can buy it cheaply at craft stores (ex. Michaels) or online (ex. Ebay or Etsy).
- Tile Adhesive
- Grout: I used unsanded grout because of how close together all my pieces were and it worked well. If you color your own grout make enough for the whole project because it will be difficult to match the same color again.
- Sealant: Decide if you want one that will leave your pieces shiny (I suggest this for sea glass)
- Tiling Sponge
- Tile Trowel: Use a tile trowel if laying large mosaic pieces over a wide area of adhesive at a time.
- Grout Bag (for tile adhesive): This works better for small pieces since it give you more control. You can get these bags from a hard wear store or use a pastry bag (used for frosting) from a cake store. In a pinch you could try cutting the corner off a large ziplock bag.
Step 2: Prep and Clean Mosaic Materials
Clean and dry your mosaic materials thoroughly before using. My favorite way is to soak the pieces in denture cleaner (full tutorial here). You could also wipe them with rubbing alcohol or soak them in a soapy-solution. I organized my pieces by color.
Step 3: Make a Test Piece
Step 4: Tile The Rim
You could also create a frame for a rectangular table to sit in with 1-inch tall strips of wood that you nail or glue to the surface before you begin tiling. If you do add a frame, make sure to stain or paint the frame to match the rest of the table before you begin tiling.
Step 5: Lay Out Sea Glass
Step 6: Lay Tile Adhesive
Step 7: Create the Mosaic
Step 8: Grout the Table
If you used cements backer board when you will also need to put a thin layer of grout on the underside. I rubbed on watered-down grout with a sponge and then went over it with a clean sponge after the grot was dry. Apply sealer after 2 days.
Step 9: Continue to Clean the Pieces
- Go over the table with a small sponge than can get between the pieces between
- Put paint thinner (ex. mineral spirits) on a small sponge and scrub the mosaic pieces
- Take a nail and scratch away dried grout
- Use a drill with a brush attachment to get grout off pieces
- Use soap, water and a scrubbing brush. What got me the best results was when when i poured a little sand on the surface and scrubbed/rinsed clean. Only do this after the grout has had at least 24 hours to dry.
Step 10: Finish The Table
- Grout and/or stone sealer: This sealant is necessary to protect your grout from staining and your tabletop from ware. Unless you buy one that specifically says it will add shine, your piece will look as it did dry, before the application. I used one that promised a "wet look."
- Polyurethane: If you want to give your glass an extra shine you can apply polyurethane. I suggest you take the time apply it with a small brush to the individual pieces rather than painting a layer over the whole table because when I tried this on a test-tile tiny bubbles formed on the grout.