Introduction: Personalized Mosaics
For special occasions I like to create hand crafted gifts for my loved ones. They take a lot of work but the reactions of the recipients make it very worth it. My sisters and I have collected sea glass for over 20 years so it is featured in most of my designs, but you can easily adapt these ideas to meet your needs.
This tutorial is intended to inspire your creativity and help you to decide what you want to make and gain understanding into what it will take. On the last step I have linked to tutorials to some of the specific pieces featured if you want to see some steps in more detail.
- Mosaic materials (see next step)
- Base to adhere pieces to (ex. plexiglass, tabletop, wood, bowl, etc.)
- Glue to adhere pieces
- Grout and sealant or resin
Step 1: Select Your Base and Prep Materials
First start by decided what your mosaic is going to be. I have made tables, wall art, light boxes, bowls and boxes. When breaking pieces make sure to take precautions to ensure safety. Wear protective goggles and cover pieces in cloth or strong plastic bags before shattering them. If you would like to use glass, I suggest sea glass with rounded edges (if you do not collect this then you can buy tumbled glass at craft stores)
Examples of Mosaic Materials
- Broken ceramic
- Sea glass
- Small personal items
- Images set in resin
- Broken DVDs/CDs (these look great in the sun)
- Sea shells
- Small tiles
I create my own pieces by printing or drawing an image on cardstock and then gluing it to a piece of wood and sealing it in resin. This is great for pictures and other personal messages you want to include.
Step 2: Plan Your Design
I usually start with a few set details that I want to include and then fill in the rest by eye. Print out the design you want on a piece of paper and use it as a guide. For the grouted pieces, I glued the mosaic directly onto the paper. For the resin pieces with a plexiglass base I taped my guide to the underside of the base so that I could remove it afterwards (I wanted light to be able to come through the glass). For other pieces I cut a thin strips of cardstock and glued it to the outline. I also suggest doing small test pieces if you are new to this, before using all of your special materials.
Step 3: Create Mosaic
If the base you selected does not already have a frame/lip then consider creating your own. You can do this by adding a later of mosaic tiles or strips of wood around the edge.
Some people lay out the pieces on a test area and then try to transfer the pieces to the real piece when they are ready to glue. This works for many people but I have had better luck doing it by eye as I go along.
If you will be grouting the pieces you can either glue down the individual pieces or apply a layer of tile adhesive to lay the pieces in. If you are using glass then make sure the glue completely surrounds the bottom of each piece (if not then the grout will seep underneath)
Step 4: Grout or Set Mosaic
When the glue is dry you can begin applying the grout. Let dry for 20 minutes before scrubbing with a wet sponge. If you want colored grout you can start with white grout and dye it with acrylic paint.
If you are securing with resin then make sure you follow the instructions on the box exactly or you will get a tacky finish. Pour the resin slowly and use a paintbrush to help full in the cracks.
Step 5: Finish
Spend a lot of time cleaning the pieces before sealing. I use a nail to scrape off grout that remains on the pieces or in uneven patches. I used san and a scrubbing brush on one piece to get it to look right. For grouted pieces, finish with a stone sealer. If you want the piece to maintain a shiny/wet looking finish then you can add a thin layer of resin. Below are full tutorials for some of the items featured.