Introduction: Make a Mosaic Mirror
Make a beautiful mosaic mirror to hang in your home!
This mosaic features a shiny glass tile color gradient that shifts from deep blue to bright white. My finished frame measures about 24 inches by 28 inches but you can do this project in any size.
- Rubber Mat
- Glass Running Pliers
- Glass Wheeled Nippers
- Glass Cutter
- Glass Cleaner
- Straight Edge
- Pointy Tool
- Safety Glasses
- Palm Sander
- N-95 Mask
- Safety Glasses (a second pair because you can never be too safe!)
- Measuring/Mixing Cup
- Weldbond Glue
- Latex Paint
- Mini Whisk
- Little Paintbrush
- Big Paint Brush
- Diamond Grit Sanding Blocks in 60, 200 and 400
I used hand-rolled, fusible art glass made by Bullseye Glass Company. This project required 2-1/2 pieces of double-rolled, 3mm, 3-color streaky sheet mix in white, turquoise and midnight blue, code 003086-0030-F-1010. I also used a half sheet of white glass, code 000113-0030-F-1010. I also had a leftover mirror from another project.
Large Solid Wood Frame for your base. I purchased my inexpensive fame from a local thrift store for a few dollars. Try to find a frame made of solid wood with a flat face and edges square to the front surface, any rounded edges make it more difficult to work with.
Step 1: Design the Repeating Pattern
I wanted this mosaic framed mirror to have a repeating pattern with a color gradient moving from dark to light as you travel into the middle. This could be done with a random tile size, but I like to see a set that repeats as it wraps around the frame. If you are stumped for a good place to start, search the internet for flooring stores that have tile layout diagrams to help with installation.
First, consider the pattern or layout of the tiles. A classic layout is the versailles or french pattern, said to come from the Palace of Versailles in France. It is made of 4 different tile sizes and includes a total of 12 tiles in a set. This pattern has a nook for the repeat to interlock on all 4 sides.
Next, I drew an adjusted french pattern that would better suit my design. It is also made of 4 different tile sizes, but includes a total of 13 tiles in a set. This new pattern only has nooks for the repeat to interlock on 2 sides.
After looking at the adjusted pattern, I decided I wanted more diversity in tile size. This led to the final layout that includes 6 different tile sizes with a total of 17 tiles in a set. I only have nooks for the repeat to interlock on 2 sides.
Step 2: Prepare the Recycled Frame
Using reclaimed items requires extra work. You have to remove existing posters, hardware and any finish. When disassembling your frame, try to save things like the flexi points to reuse at the end. Flexi points will securely hold your mirror in the frame from behind.
I used vice-grips to remove the hardware holding the glass and poster in place. Then, I used a palm sander with 150 grit sandpaper to remove the finish and take the frame down to bare wood.
Next, seal the wood frame. If the wood isn't sealed, then the frame may absorb water from the thin-set mortar (what you use to glue your pieces down), causing the thin-set to dry too fast and the glass mosaic tiles to fall off.
- Set the frame on some jars to elevate it off the table. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of Weldbond and 3 tablespoons of water in a measuring cup.
- Spread the mixture evenly with a brush onto your wood. Be sure to cover the top, the four outside edges and the four inside edges that will be decorated with glass tile.
- Let the frame dry for 24 to 48 hours in a warm place (above 50 degF).
- Flip the frame over and paint the rest of the surfaces with latex paint to give it a finished look. Make sure to paint the part of the inside edge that might be reflected in the mirror.
Step 3: Safety Gear!
- Wear your safety glasses!
Working with glass can be dangerous. When you score and break glass, sharp flakes and bits seem to go flying. Make sure to always wear eye protection!
- Glass is sharp!
Step 4: Cut the Glass Edge Tiles
Glass is sharp so please use shop safety. Try to be careful and always use safety glasses.
I am using Bullseye sheet glass to create white tiles to wrap the edges of the mirror frame. I will need 104 inches for the outer edge and 78 inches for the inner edge.
- Inner edge : fifty-two tiles measuring 2 inch x 5/8 inch
- Outer Edge : seventy-eight tiles measuring - 1 inch x 1/4 inch
Cutting The Glass:
Always clean your glass with glass cleaner and wipe dry. Clean glass always cuts better. Using a fine line sharpie marker, mark the desired width on the glass.
- Place the sheet glass on a cutting mat. Score the glass with a glass cutter and break the strips apart with the running pliers.
- My glass cutter has a pistol grip filled with a little oil, but any kind of glass cutter will work. A glass cutter scores the glass with its carbide wheel, this scoring of the surface tells the fragment where to break. The wheel is centered at the tip so make sure the wheel is on your marked line, not the edge of the tip that holds the scoring wheel. Now pressing firmly, take your glass cutter and score in one pass. A straight edge helps to keep everything square.
- The running pliers will actually break the glass along the score. Take a moment and look at the ends of the jaws of the running pliers. They are curved, so hold them with the front edge of the jaws curving down or frowning and the score centered on the black mark. It is best to score and break from the middle out, so you have equal amounts of material on either side of the score. Place the scored glass in the mouth of the running pliers and gently squeeze until you hear a pop. Sometimes it helps to repeat this gentle squeeze on either end of the score. When the center of the bottom jaw pushes up, the outside of the top jaw pushes down and the glass breaks on the scored line. This is called running the break.
Step 5: Mosaic the Edge
Mix the thin-set mortar. Thin-set is the glue that bonds mosaic glass tiles to the wood frame. First, make sure you wear a mask to protect you from inhaling any tiny particles! Scoop some powdered thin-set into a measuring cup and add water. Stir until a thick paste forms that is thicker than toothpaste and forms a nice mound on its own. I mix the thin-set a little thicker when I need to work on vertical surfaces.
Place a piece of blue painter's tape under the frame edge to prevent the frame from sticking to the work surface. Working along the outer edge of the frame, spread a thick bed of thin-set. Working a piece at a time, press each tile into the thin-set. The thin-set should squish about part way up the piece. Place the next piece down trying to leave uniform gaps. Thin-set is a structural bonding adhesive made of cement and capable of handling gaps up to about 3/8 of an inch.
When you get to a corner, trim each tile as necessary. They may not all fit because the thin-set takes up space but it's alway better to have extra pieces cut. Now take more thin-set and press it into all the gaps. Wipe any extra off with a damp sponge. Clean your sponge often.
Repeat on the inside of the frame.
Let the mosaic dry for 24 to 48 hours in a warm place (above 50 degF).
Step 6: Cut the Streaky Blue Tile
Glass is sharp so please use shop safety. Please handle the glass carefully and always use safety glasses.
I am using Bullseye sheet glass to create the streaky blue tiles to form a pattern with a gradient on the mirror frame. Make sure to check both sides of the glass to see any difference in color or pattern. I began by drawing an outline of the mirror frame on my scrap paper and dry fitting the pattern as I cut the tiles. Having a repeating pattern provided me with a cut list to get started I cut about 6 sets. Here is my cut list for one set of my pattern.
Cut List for One Set:
- four - 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch
- three - 1/2 inch x 3/4 inch
- two - 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch
- four - 3/4 inch x 1 inch
- one - 1/2 inch x 1 inch
- three - 1 inch x 1 inch
Continue to cut more tiles as needed to fill in the frame outline. You will need to adjust the pattern to turn the corner. As I progressed around the frame, I did not always stick to the repeating pattern, it was more of a suggestion in some places.
When you like the arrangement and flow of the tiles, take a photo. Now you can really see the entire mosaic with some perspective.
Step 7: Mosaic the Frame
Wearing a mask, prepare more thin-set mortar. It should be a little looser this time because you are working on a horizontal surface now.
Working in segments, spread a 1/4 inch thick bed of thin-set on the top of the wood frame. Start to transfer the pattern to the frame. Each tile is placed individually, pressing gently to make sure it is set. Again, try to leave uniform spaces between tiles.
Transfer all of your pieces to the frame. They may not all fit. Press extra thin-set into all the gaps. Wipe any extra off with a damp sponge and remember to clean your sponge often.
Let the mosaic dry for 24 to 48 hours in a warm place (above 50 degF).
Now sand the inside and the outside glass edges with the diamond grit sanding blocks. Use the block at an angle so you are only sanding the edge and not scratching the surface of any of the tiles. Work your way up from 60 grit to 200 grit and finish with 400 grit. There should be no exposed sharp edges now.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
Lay your mosaic frame upside down on a soft, folded towel.
Then, carefully measure the opening that will hold the mirror. Measure and mark your mirror to size. Then score and break as you did for the glass tiles. Please note that mirror glass is sharp, use shop safety and always wear safety glasses.
Place the mirror in the frame. Cut a piece of corrugated cardboard the same size as the mirror and place in the frame behind the mirror.
Now gently secure both the mirror and the cardboard with flexi points around the edge to hold everything in. They sell a flexi point driver tool specific to these flexi points, but you can use a small hammer if you tap them in at a slight angle and gently press them towards the cardboard.
Lastly, add picture hanging hardware to the back.
Now you can hang your mirror and admire all of your hard work!
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