How To Mosaic: Art For Your Garden
Mosaics Art: Crafts To Make
Learn how you can make your own mosaic bird baths, tabletops, gazing balls, flowerpots, stepping stones, and more. Find out what materials are needed, what methods are best for completing each mosaic project and how to find inspirational designs that fit into your lifestyle.
The most popular technique is referred to as the "direct method" which works well for crafting outdoor mosaic art be it a stepping stone or a table top. I will demonstrate the ease of this method so as to give you a good background on how easy mosaics are to make for yourself, to sell, or give as gifts.
First A Bit Of Mosaic Lingo
Substrate...the surface on which the mosaic pieces are adhered.
Tessera or Tesserae (plural)...the decorative items used to create the mosaic design.
Grout...a thin mortar pressed into the spaces between tesserae to consolidate the mosaic objects into a solid mass.
Direct Method...adhering each piece of tessera directly to the substrate.
Indirect Method...adhering the laid out mosaic design to a back mounted mesh or surface mounted adhesive paper or film first before being adhered to the substrate.
If you have never made a mosaic, a stained glass stepping stone makes a great introductory project. Not only are they simple to craft you will end up with a beautiful decorative walking stone for your garden to enjoy for years to come. I have written three tutorials using three methods for making mosaic stepping stones that I would like to share with you. All three tutorials have complete directions with lots of photos and videos.
The first lesson makes an inexpensive simple stepping stone using stained glass cobbles and your hand-print to craft a personalized stone using the direct mosaic method. For the project you will need a precast cement stepping stone to which you apply your tesserae and impression. Very basic with a but of messy fun.
The second tutorial teaches the indirect method of laying out your mosaic design on clear adhesive contact paper then pouring a concrete mixture over it inside a prepared mold. Also very simple with the advantage of being able to have a more detailed mosaic as well as a smoother level finished surface.
The third tutorial is a complete lesson in the direct method, from making your own cast stepping stone to decorating it with your tesserae.
Stained glass gazing balls are not only beautiful in a garden they are mesmerizing. As the sun travels throughout the day and the moon at night the reflections off the glass sprinkle a bit of magic in the air. Romantic, spiritual, whimsical are just a few of the words commonly used to describe the dazzling presence of a gazing ball.
Crafting a gazing ball using the direct method makes it easy for even first timers. Adhering small pieces of glass, pottery, seashells, mirror, charms, or whatever else you might want to use will take a bit of time (like working a jigsaw puzzle) but well worth the effort. Before you start your mosaic make sure you have all of your tesserae close at hand plus have a design in mind. The ball is your canvas the tesserae your paint.
Below is a video showing how to mosaic a bowling ball as a substrate for making a gazing ball. Bowling balls make a wonderful base, but make sure that you first "rough up" the balls smooth surface using sandpaper to give the best adhesion for your tesserae. Fill the holes with silicon caulk and let dry before starting to mosaic. Other substrates you can use are Styrofoam balls, plain glass gazing balls, or extra large acrylic ornaments.
How to make a mosaic gazing ball
These two gals are definitely having fun making this gazing ball using a yard sale bowling ball they found. Old used bowling balls can also be purchased from bowling alleys. Make sure to scuff up the smooth surface before adhering your tesserae!
Mosaic Garden Pots
A beautiful addition to your patio or as a gift, mosaic garden pots are another great way to show off your mosaic skills. Be it a simple patchwork design or a more intricate pattern.
Below is a short tutorial on how to use the direct mosaic method on a flower pot. What is not mentioned and should be remembered is that terracotta pots are considered to be "absorbent substrates" and need to be sealed with either a tile sealer or a mixture of 1 part white glue to 2 parts of water before your tesserae are applied. Do not use a waterproofing sealer because it may not bond with your adhesive. Sealing the pot prevents the adhesive and grout from drying too fast which could cause cracks in your grout later on.
How to Mosaic a Flower Pot
Mosaic Bird Baths
This adorable and simple bird bath is made using a 12" terracotta saucer that is set on top of two large flower pots that form the base.
Birds and Bloom Magazine has a wonderful tutorial for making this simple but beautiful bird bath. To make the base a bit more "artsy" how about a band of tiles added to each of the pots bases forming a "belt" around the middle.
You can also use the direct mosaic method on precast cement bird baths.
Mosaic Table Tops
If there is one really awe inspiring piece to make for your garden patio here it is! Start small with a side table to practice your newly found skills then go for the gold. Below check out the pictures of a table top during its steps to final creation.
Table top substrates that work well with mosaics are glass, concrete, waterproof or water resistant materials such as backer board or concrete board. Avoid using materials that bend or warp such as particleboard, thin flexible metals, and some plastics, these can over time can cause the grout to crack and the tesserae to come loose. Additionally wood substrates are better for interior projects.
A Tabletop Mosaic In Progress - Artist: Robyn JayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Choosing Your Glass Tesserae
Glass for mosaics comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and thickness. It is important that you consider your finished piece before purchasing any of your tesserae. If you are crafting a table top on which glasses and dishes will be placed you will want a smooth, even no spill surface.
You will need to choose tesserae with all the same thickness. Stained glass is generally 1/8th" thick, however some of the heavier textures such as ripple can be significantly thicker, as can glass globs, molded glass shapes and jewels.
Glass tiles are available in 3/4" and 3/8" squares. To break or cut them to size you will need a mosaic glass cutter.
For your stained glass pieces you can purchase sheets of glass and cut or break your own pieces or purchase pre-broken glass (my preference) such as Stained Glass Cobbles. It is available in three size choices from very small MiniCobblets (sand to pebble sized), medium sized Cobbles (1/4" to 1" pieces, and large Cobbs (1 1/4" to 3"). The greatest benefit to buying Cobbles is that you purchase only that size that you need for your project. When breaking your own glass you end up with a lot of little sharp shards and pieces that are either too small or too big.
Tools for Glass Mosaic
Highest quality tungsten-carbide steel
Specifically designed for use with 3/16" thick vitreous glass tile
5/8" Tungsten-carbide tip curved blades
For easy nipping and cutting
Red rubber handles provide a comfort grip for any size hands
Outdoor Mosaic Material Chart
Styrofoam................Sanded Floor Grout............................ DAP
Cement....................Sanded Floor Grout.........................Thin Set
Metal........................Sanded Floor Grout...............DAP, E6000, Weldbond
Plastic......................Sanded Floor Grout.............................DAP
Terracotta................Sanded Floor Grout...............DAP, E6000, Weldbond
Glass........................Sanded Floor Grout.................DAP (clear), E6000