Mosaic mirrors make beautiful, unique art. I have three amazing aunts who do mosaics almost to a profession, so I thought I’d try my hand at it, as well. My first project (the one before this) was also a mirror and majorly experimental. There is a learning curve to mosaics, but it’s a short one. Hopefully, with the helpful tips passed on to me from my Aunt Mary and my own advice on what NOT to do, you will end up with a beautiful, unique piece of art for yourself.
My first mosaic mirror, a birthday present for my man (only he would appreciate my creative experiments as gifts), is displayable. So please don’t think that your first project won’t be worth the blood, sweat, and tears. (Blood, sweat and tears?)
Just remember: It’s aaaalllll worth it.
(So you believe me that it didn’t turn out totally deformed…)
We met each other through a mission trip to Dominican Republic so I used a collection of sea glass and stones that we found while there visiting the coast, along with some broken pieces of french ceramics for his time backpacking in Europe.
OK, moving on.
What You’ll Need
(If you are like me, you’re annoyed by long “To Get” lists. I’ll try to group them by “Where To Get” so it’s a little less intimidating.)
Lowes or Home Depot
1. Drop Cloth – You will do every step of project on top this
3. Painter’s or Masking tape – any width
4. Grout – You want “White – Sanded” Do not get ‘Un-sanded.’ Small bag will be plenty for several projects.
5. Rubber Gloves
6. Snipers or Tile Cutters – helps break off small pieces from bigger pieces with minimal damage (pic below)
7. Glue – (a.) Loctite Clear Silicone Adhesive Sealant (b.) Liquid Nails Clear Silicone Adhesive (pic below)
Michaels, Hobby Lobby or other craft store
8. Popsicle sticks
9. Items to Mosaic with: Decide on your color scheme! You can use beads, colored pebbles (kind you put in bottom of a fish bowl), mosaic tiles (they sell them pre-cut), stained glass sheets (Hobby Lobby). Stay away from “whites” because they will tend to blend in with the grout. That was a mistake I made on my first project. I have found that ceramic plates (dinnerware) with fun patterns, or fun colors, work the best. (For the following project, that is all I used – broken pieces of plates)
10. Item to Mosaic: Mirror, frame, box, clock, table top, etc. Whatever you choose, you want to begin with a flat surfaced object.
Around The House
11. Diluted Windex – just mix with a little water
13. Small container – for mixing grout, something disposable like styrofoam bowls or plastic tuperware
15. Old soft toothbrush
16. Paper Towels
17. Band aids!!!
18. More items to Mosaic with: Smash some old wine bottles for the glass, old plates from the cupboard, an old mirror for the shards, etc.
TJMaxx, Thrift Shops, Goodwill, Ross, etc. all have cheap dinnerware plates that are perfect for mosaics. This is what I used for my second mosaic project. Again, avoid using white plates/ceramics, etc. as they will only blend with the white grout. You may also find the actual item to mosaic at one of these stores. I found both my mirrors at TJMaxx for less than $20.00. Picked up 2 more for $12.00 each at TJMaxx last week.
Step 1: Smash Your Stuff
(…I feel like I have to say this …There are worthier things to sacrifice an eyeball for. Use protective glasses. Please. Thanks.)
Spread out your canvas, grab your hammer, lay your plate under a dish towel or large rag, and smash away. Check after each pounding to pull out unique pieces. Your preference. Just be sure the back of the piece is flat so that it will be easy to glue to your mirror (or whatever you are working with).
Step 2: Glue Your Stuff
First things first, tape computer paper over the mirror to protect it from glue and grout. You can tape the sides as well, but I never do. Just be careful to wipe up your messes and you will be fine.
You can lay your items out the way you want them before gluing. Or, if you’re like me, you can dive right in. Make sure when you are gluing down the pieces that you do not have more than 1/8 of an inch in between your pieces. This is part of the reason my first project turned out the way it did. Too much space in between the pieces will not achieve the mosaic-ed look. You may need to break items into small pieces to fill in gaps. (Enter band-aids)
Wait 24 hours before you do the next step so that your glue has time to fully dry.
Step 3. Grout Your Stuff
You’re going to need an extended period of time for this next step. (1-2 hours) It includes spreading the grout, wiping off and cleaning the pieces, and filling in grout gaps.
a. Mix Grout: You want the consistency of frosting. You can start with 3/4 cup grout and 2 TBSP of water. I think I had to add a touch more water, but go slow so that you do not over saturate grout. You will most likely need to mix several batches to complete the project. Should look like this:
b. Put on rubber gloves, pick up a glob of grout, and begin spreading over the mosaic surface. You want to fill in all the grooves and gaps between, above, and below pieces. Make sure you have clean edges and don’t glob up grout on the sides. With my mirror project, I constantly wiped my finger along edges to keep them smooth. (Enter more band-aids…)
c. Do a section and go back and wipe off the top layer of grout from the mosaic surface. You want to do this before the grout dries. It doesn’t harden immediately so you have time.
Step 4: Clean Your Mosaic Surface
Use the popsicle sticks to continue cleaning off your mosaic surface. Make sure you identify the pieces hidden under the grout (especially your smaller ones). You can also use a damp rag, diluted windex, and q-tips to clean the surface. I always keep a few rags, dry and damp, next to me. In this step, you are also making sure that the grout areas are evened out and all the tiny holes are filled. Keep a little moist grout around for filling in the gaps that become exposed when you are cleaning off pieces.
Optional: Once you are done, if you think there is grout that you cannot manage to scrap off with your tools (paper clips, pins, screw drivers, etc.) then you can purchase some Muriatic Acid from Lowes or Home Depot.
*Muriatic Acid can burn your skin and can eat up flooring if spilled*
Please use with caution and follow all instructions on the labeling. Use gloves and protective eyewear in a ventilated area outdoors. Pour a small amount into a porcelain or ceramic dish (not plastic) and use the end of a q-tip to dip in the acid and wipe over pieces. Only use the Muriatic Acid in the end if you really need it. When it hits the grout it will bubble, wipe that up quickly and then work the acid on the mosaic piece.
Step 5: Hang With Pride
So, even though all your fingers may be wrapped in band-aids … it was worth it. Right!?
p.s. (Beauty is pain, even in art!)