Introduction: Moroccan Tiles
How to make very convincing Moroccan style tiles from cardboard
Illustration board (any dense cardboard would work, or canvas board, thin mdf, you get the idea-anything flat that can be cut into squares and painted)
assorted acrylic paint
Exacto knife and straight edge
Clear acrylic varnish (optional)
Stencils with a square pattern
Brush for paint and varnish
Step 1: Moroccan Tiles
So the walls are closing in on me during Covid-19 and like everyone else I'm looking around my space for ways to make it prettier. I've got an exotic Moroccan thing going on in my bedroom and decided to upgrade this nice (but rather plain) piano bench I use as an end table. That's Limbo Stormageddon, my Norwegian Forest Cat, lurking
Step 2: Cut the Cardboard
I had some illustration board lying around. Any thin, flat board that can be cut into squares and paint can adhere to should work. I decided on 4 inch squares because they fit my table, and my stencils are 4 inches wide.
Always start a project with a brand new Exacto blade. Or whatever your craft knife of choice may be. A dull blade is a dangerous blade. When cutting it's best to use many lighter scoring cuts than try to use strength. Take your time and score score score!
Step 3: Bevel the Edges for Authenticity
Not a necessary step but I really wanted these to look like tile and it really does give it the look of a real tile edge.
Step 4: Paint Your Squares
I have a bunch of craft paint so I picked a pallete of various blue/green shades and went nuts. Most Moroccan tiles I've seen are a deep cobalt blue. In this project I really recommend high gloss or enamel finish acrylic craft paint for durability, opacity and to further create the glassy tile effect, but if you have a flat finish paint you can always coat with a gloss varnish. Either way, apply two coats, and allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before the second coat.
Step 5: Stencil Time
I don't have a stencil brush so I used an old brush with a flat shape and painted with some contrasting colours.I wasn't too careful because this is just a base for the more detailed painting I'll do in the next step. Full disclosure though, I'm an artist so I have a lot of faith in my ability to freehand paint a good geometric pattern. If you're not confident you can spend more time with this step and rely more on the stencils for your pattern. It never occured to me to layer these two stencils over each other for a cool pattern (derp!) but oh well. Any stencil with a nice symmetrical geometric pattern should work, as well as a stamp if you have one.
Step 6: Let This Step Dry Thoroughly
This is starting to look pretty cool BUT I've got nothing but time to get crazy with some paint pens...
Step 7: Paint Pens Are My Salvation Yet Again
I love love LOVE paint pens- they are a total gamechanger for so many projects. I used Uchida Decocolor (which are oil-based and contain Xylene, which is toxic, gives off weird fumes and it bad for children and should be avoided by pregnant people), which are the most common kind you'll find at your big box craft stores. My least favourite but get the job done. The pens that I LOVE are made in Germany, by Molotow and are ONE4ALL acrylic pens. No odor, are refillable and the nibs can be changed out when they wear down or if you prefer a different style nib for different applications. I will sing the Gospel of these Molotow pens to my dying day. I wish I'd known about them sooner.
Protip: always store paint markers horizontally. It keeps the nibs from drying out. Also- wine bottles. Same thing.
Step 8: Clear Coat Your Tiles
I want these to be shiny, and after so much time meticulously drawing these details with my beloved paint markers I want them to last. My dream is to be able to put them on anything, and switch them up when I want a change so they need to withstand some handling. First I started to finish them with a gloss coat of Minwax Polycrylic, which is a water based varnish that I've had much success with, and I love because it's easy to clean off brushes (unlike oil based which smells gross and needs paint thinner to clean) and looks great
for some reason the some of the acrylic paint markers didn't get along with the Polycrylic and the first tile I coated started to run, and I have no idea why. It's acrylic, shouldn't happen but the markers looked like old school mascara at a funeral. I caught it quickly enough to blot it off with a paper towel and save most of the design but I did have to reapply some of the layers.
I had success with Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish. It's fantastic for all kinds of acrylic paint tricks and makes a great varnish. It's not cheap though but it is very versatile and worth having if you paint. It also didn't get into a barfight with the paint markers so that's a big plus.
Step 9: The Finished Product
I'm very happy with the final product. I adhered them to the bench with some Elmer's CraftBond Glue Spots. That will allow me to easily remove them if I want to change the look of my decor in the future. I think it would be cool to frame a bathroom mirror with tiles like this. I guess you could say they're versa-TILE!!!**
** sorry, not sorry.