Introduction: Recycle Ceramics Into Awesome Mosaic Stepping Stones

I am a Middle School Art Teacher, and sometimes after a round of firing ceramics, there are pieces left over. Over the years, the pile gets bigger and bigger. One day, I decided to make a Mosaic! This is exciting, one, because I get to give the kids hammers and ask them to smash up pottery, and two, because I have never made a Mosaic! Let's do this! 

Step 1: What You Will Need

Gather together ceramic tiles or pottery, a workspace where you can smash, a hammer, safety goggles, t-shirt, drawing board,  sharpie, bowls, tile mortar or mosaic adhesive,  dust mask, adhesive spreader, mosaic grout,  stepping stone,  mosaic grout sealer, sponge, knife,  waste can, and a sponge.

Step 2: Break Apart Your Pottery

Put on your safety goggles, place a piece of pottery into a t-shirt, and smash it with a hammer. Open up the t-shirt, after you feel it break, and decide how small you want the pieces. Monitor the size as you continue to hammer the pottery. When the pieces are small enough, place them into a bowl, and put the smashed, dusty bits into the waste can.

Step 3: Prepare the Board

Trace the stepping stone onto the board, using the sharpie. 

Step 4: Sort the Pieces of Pottery

Sort the pieces of pottery. I put them glaze-side-up, in groups by color, and size. Be careful when you handle them, as they may be a little sharp.

Step 5: Design the Mosaic

Use the bits and pieces to come up with a satisfying design. This step will vary with each artist. Some folks will go from the outside in, and others will have to draw a bunch first, and still others will just jump in and do a fabulous piece. 

It is sort of like building a puzzle. You will find that the edges may go together, or not. I don't recommend leaving too little or too much space in your mosaic, as there should be a place for the grout.

Step 6: The Tile Mortar

I got this 25 lb. bag of tile "thin-set" mortar at a hardware store, and it only cost around $10. It mixes up like concrete, just add water. The instructions are also featured on the bag. I wore a dust mask while handling it, just saying.

Step 7: Apply the Mortar

Using the mortar tool, spread a medium-thick layer of tile mortar over the surface of the stepping stone, and use the rake edge to make a pattern in the mortar.

Step 8: Transfer Your Mosaic

Transfer the pieces of mosaic from the board to your stepping stone.

Step 9: Cleaning Up the Mosaic

Using a piece of tile, gently press the mosaic to make sure the bits are seated in the adhesive. Wipe up the extra adhesive, and place somewhere to dry for 24 hours.

Step 10: Assemble Everything to Grout

Assemble a sponge, a paint mixer, a knife, and the board with your mosaic tiles on it.You will need to mix up some grout, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then stir it again, before you begin.

Step 11: Grouting

Make sure and get grout down in between the pieces of ceramic tile. I used an old knife.

Step 12: Spread Grout

Using a paint stirrer, I spread the grout over the whole mosaic, scraping off the excess.

Step 13: Scrape Off the Grout

Scrape off the grout, using an old knife, spatula, or what -have-you...

Step 14: Clean Off the Grout

Using first a sponge, then paper towels, clean off the grout, and polish the exposed tiles so they are shiny!
When cleaning up, try and scrape as much grout into the trash before you wash up, as it will clog drains.

Step 15: Seal and Enjoy

Let the grout cure up for 72 hours, and then seal your tile with grout sealer and enjoy!

Instructables Green Design Contest

Participated in the
Instructables Green Design Contest