This is part one of a three part series on mosaic tiling. Today I will recount my first tiling project. Part two will consist of a basic mosaic tiling tutorial, and in part three I will share with you a technique I use to apply grout.
When I was 19, I moved into my first apartment, with my roommate. I was so excited to be on my own, as an adult! One of my first purchases was a beechwood breakfast bar. It was a gorgeous natural color that I fell in love with. I even saved up the $50 to buy it. That table was the cleanest piece of furniture in our house, because I dusted it, washed it, polished it constantly, I loved it so much. I made it a display area for my cake dish, and other knick knacks. I truly loved it.
Several months later, life happened, and I moved out. Being a poor college student, I needed a cheap way to move furniture. Enter my friend and his Chevy S-10. He piled my beloved table and stools upright into his truck. I asked if that was safe to haul that way, and he and my boyfriend both told me it would be fine. We got maybe 5 miles down the freeway when the table flew off the back of the truck. It was tied to the truck, so the truck dragged it for hundreds of feet till we stopped at the side of the road.
My poor, lovely table was still mostly in one piece, but the top had horrible ugly gashes in the top. Very deep, there was no way I could sand it all out while still keeping the integrity of the table. I was heartbroken. My lovely table, so horribly injured. I decided to keep the table, because I KNEW there had to be some way to salvage my prized possession.
Fast forward several months. My boyfriend and I got engaged, and the table moved to the patio of his house. I decided I wanted to try to mosaic the table in a “starry night” style. The thing was, I had NO idea how to mosaic tile. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t even know where to buy tiles. I finally found some at home depot– bathroom tiles in cobalt blue and bright yellow. I bought a tile nipper to cut my tiles. I didn’t even know how to fix the tile to the wood. I finally settled on plain old Elmer’s white glue that I found on sale for 20c. I ended up using LOTS of this and it worked just great!
It took me several months to complete my table. I had made several “mistakes” in my mind: I had bought some gorgeous mexican tile that was a different height than the bathroom tile. I decided the two heights wouldn’t work for a table I was planning to eat on, so I tried to remove the tiles after the white glue had dried. It was incredibly difficult to remove those tiles. Go white glue! I also hadn’t figured out how to tile on the rounded edge of the table. That part is still unfinished, and I think I could have just attached flat wood strips and then tiled over them.
Anyway, for a first timer, I don’t think I do too poorly:
This table is about 5ft long. Maybe 2ft deep?
I need to regrout the table. When I mixed it originally, I made it too watery, and bubbles got into the grout. I should have added more grout immediately, but I was so tired of the project by then that I just let it go. Also, this mosaic top is nearly ten years old and has lived a hard life. The grout needs to be refreshed anyway. That’s a project for a different day.
When I started my own business as a Tomboy Tools consultant, I decided to offer a mosaic tiling class to show women that its really not hard to mosaic tile. Some of the projects I have done at parties in 30 minutes or less:
Tomorrow I will guide you through a mosaic project,using these items:
- 6 inch tile (or piece of wood) for the base.
- Items to use as tiles: mirror, tiles of any shape or size, glass marbles for flowers (flat on one side is helpful, but not necessary), etc. If it doesn’t dissolve in water you can try it out!
- White school glue (you can use mastic, and its helpful if you are sticking down round items, but its kind of expensive for one project).
- Grout. Grout comes in lots of fun colors in a carton or big ol’ huge bag. The big bag is like $5 and will do over 50 coasters.
- Mosaic Tiling Kit. For a coaster, nippers and a sponge are useful.
- If you aren’t using the above tiling kit, you will need something heavy to cover the tiles while you break them. A heavy placemat or towel (that you won’t use for anything else) works well.
- Safety glasses and gloves. VERY important!!! I have cut myself when demonstrating how you should always wear gloves! Safety glasses even for those of us who wear regular glasses.
If you want to join me, gather these items and meet me here tomorrow!