Many years ago, shiannejessica told me she would very much like to make a tile mosaic on a coffee table, using Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" as inspiration. Being of the DIY persuasion, I proceeded to build her a "coffee table" that Christmas, with the promise that we'd make a trip one of these days to the tile store so she could create her vision. I put coffee table in quotes, as the table I built her is nearly three feet tall, five feet long, and two and a half feet wide. My friend, Loren actually talked me down, my original dimensions were more like four foot by six foot. I have a very bad spatial sense sometimes.
For a variety of reasons, we never actually made the mosaic. We still have the ridiculous coffee table, which actually sees a lot of use though not for it's intended purpose. The idea of finishing the table by adding the mosaic has been floated a number of times, but we just never seem to get around to it.
This Christmas, in a moment of inspiration Shianne suggested that we build a new, more reasonably sized table, build a mosaic in it, and give it to my sister-in-law, Michelle as a gift. This would be an end table rather than an oversized coffee table. It seemed ambitious and there was a deadline looming, so I of course hopped to it and started building the table! Shianne and our daughter India both helped out with that part, then Shianne made the mosaic itself, with India taking great joy in smashing tiles and plates for the mosaic shards. It was a lot of hard work and fun, and a labor of love from our family to Michelle and her family.
We learned a lot from the process, and the result is beautiful and has drawn a lot of compliments. Here we'll share with you our methods, our thoughts, and some advice on pitfalls to avoid should you attempt something like this!
To start off, here's a quick video about the basics:
Step 1: The Inspiration
I am not the most artistically inclined, but even I can see the beauty in Vincent Van Gogh's work. I had always thought this painting was simply called "Starry Night," but in researching this write up I discovered it's actually "The Starry Night." It is a nighttime view from his asylum cell of the village of Saint-Rémy, painted from memory the next day. It is considered by some (myself included) to be his greatest work, though he wasn't personally satisfied with it.
We chose this as the subject matter for the table we built for a couple of reasons. We love this picture. We've got just two prints hanging in our house--this is one of them, the other is "Sunflowers," also by Van Gogh. He was a truly amazing artist, though in his lifetime he sold only one painting. We also knew Michelle was a fan, she has a Van Gogh or two hanging in her house. Further, I don't think it's any coincidence that her son's name is Vincent!
Michelle is someone we often have trouble shopping for. We figured this would be a great way to make a meaningful gift for her that would be functional and beautiful as well.