Tile Portraits

Introduction: Tile Portraits

First and foremost, I would like to give credit to the following instructable for inspiring this project:


This project will take images and transform them into a one of a kind recycled tile art work.  This is a gift for my mom for Christmas.  There is also a picture of one I made for my brother a few years ago (he is a pilot).

Step 1: Gather Material

First you will need to gather the materials:

1x10 - 3 feet long
black paint
metal staples
3 tiles - I used 8x8 inch
Elmer's glue
Tissue paper

Safety glasses
Circular saw
Paint brush

Computer Req:

Step 2: Picture Time!

Get your siblings to take portraits of themselves.  This could be the hardest part if your brothers and sisters are not cooperative.

Next, crop them in GIMP, a free graphics program for Linux and windows.  You can download it here:


You can use anything you like for editing the images, gimp is free though and easy to use.

After cropping, turn into a black and white image for a more artsy look.  You could also leave it in color, it's up to you.

Step 3: Print Images

Now tape some tissue paper to a regular sheet of paper.  To make sure I was covering the right area, I first printed a quick draft on that same paper.  This made it easy to line up the tissue paper.  Now just print like normal.  Then cut the excess tissue paper off so you have a picture a little smaller than your tile.  Should look something like this:

Step 4: Decoupage

You can buy decoupage if you want, but it is really just Elmer's glue ($0.25) and water.  Why waste money on that expensive craft stuff?  Mix it up with you paint brush.  It should be pretty runny, I would say about 2:1 (glue:water) ratio.  Now apply it to the tile with the paint brush and lay the tissue paper image on top of it.  You will have about a second to adjust before it starts ripping.  Do not put another coat of deco on just yet, it will make the picture streak.

Let these dry for at least an hour.  You can put another coat of the glue water mixture on if you want, it will make a glossier finish on the images if you do.  I chose not to for the portraits.

Step 5: Measure and Cut Wood

While waiting for the tiles to dry, you can cut the wood.  Plain and simple, line up the tile on the wood, spaced evenly, and cut to length.  I left a 3/4 inch gap on all sides and in between the tiles.

Step 6: Sand & Paint

Sand it with some sand paper or an electric sander just to get the rough edges off, don't go crazy here, no one is going to be touching it really.  Now wipe off the dust from the sanding and get to painting.  I used black for a high contrast on this project.  That is a 1 quart can I had leftover from something else.

Step 7: "Staple" Tiles to Wood

Now it's time to attach the tiles.  You should be very careful during this step not to crack the tiles, it can happen very easily.  Decide where each tile is going and start putting in the staples to hold the tiles on.  Do not hammer them all the way down, you want there to be about an 1/8 of an inch gap between the tile and staple.  They will hold on the just fine at this depth.  Sorry the pictures are fuzzy, my camera doesn't have a macro mode.

Step 8: All Finished

All finished, now just wrap it up and put it under the tree!  A simple and cheap present anyone can do in a few hours with the right tools.

For the airplane one, I did things a little different.  The tiles were glued to the wood and I put some caulking between the tiles.  The tiles needed to be closer in that version to maintain the lines of the plane.

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago

    This looks great!
    What type of printer did you use?
    Ink jet or laser?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool. I love pictures but I have so many in plain frames that I sometimes forget other ways of showing them off. Thank you for the neat idea!