Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mosaic Technicalities

Several questions have been raised in the Comments section of a previous post  showing that mosaics interest readers. Therefore, I propose to expound on mosaic-making technique as I understand it. Keep in mind that I am self-taught and this may be all wrong.
First of all, the best bases for me are terra cotta and clay pots, which can last 25 or 30 years in an outdoor environment. Adding the tiles and cement should extend their durability by years. I don’t bother with wood, as it has low durability in my area. However, recycling is important and I have been gluing mosaic pieces onto metal paint cans and buckets and then grouting with cement (yeah, just plain Portland cement, no sand added), which seems to work in the short run. I would expect those containers to last a minimum of five years, but eventually they will rust from the inside. Same can be said for the oil tin cans I use. Since I cement the bottoms, they could last longer because the cement and tiles form the container. Time will tell—I’m rather new at this. I’ve been toying with the idea of using plastic detergent containers in order to recycle them. Cheap plastic Christmas tree balls make cool “orbs” that can be hung in the garden.    
          Warning: wear a mask when working with cement, and watch out for your back—the larger pots can be heavy. One must choose carefully where they will be placed because once planted, they’re difficult to move, needless to say.
          On the creative side, I never sketch mosaic designs and I find that I have nothing to say about the design process in my journal. Remembering that it’s “just” a flower pot is liberating. A couple of simple rules: make many and make every design different. I reflect on possible designs and work it out on the pot with a few penciled lines.  Generally, one design leads to the next. 
           I cut one color of tiles (usually white) with nippers to get rectangular or triangular pieces of the same size (more or less) to work into a design. Then I add the fill-in tiles, which are smashed with a hammer. One should use "thinslip" to adhere tiles to the surface for outdoor projects and there's a special mosaic grout. I haven't found them locally so I use a very strong glue (and keep the windows open or glue outside) and use cement for the grouting. Seems to work. I've also seen resin used, which  makes the mosaic lighter, however, I can't vouch for its durability. I darken the grouting cement with a black paint product used for mixing wall paint--once again, seems to work. I've also used white cement for grouting if the tiles are dark. Other colors can be added.
          Having saved tiny pieces for awhile, I’ve accumulated enough to use in parts of designs. Here's a floral motif: 
    There still remains room for a few more pots going up the stairs to the roof.

For information and free instructions see Mosaic Art Supply.
For inspiration check Mosaic Art Now.


fiberchick said...

These are just beautiful! Would love to give mosaics a go. How heavy are these pots? In my climate I'd have to bring them indoors for the winter...

Els said...

Hey, wonderful mosaic-class Nadia! (only pots won't last that long in rain and frost, I think .... a lot of pots that I had for years are frozen to pieces this last February :-( !!! )


I admire their work mosaic!
maybe one day try to decorate a pot ... thanks for the inspiration!

Ellen said...

Ik vind de potten helemaal geweldig ,jammer dat het in Nederland in de winters vriest.
Gr Ellen

O'Quilts said...

I just love them. Now when I made my stepping stone from my broken dishes, there were pieces curved sticking up that were a hazard..but I didnt know what to do so I just left it that way in the garden. R u saying that nippers is what I should be using? I think that I am a Nadia mosaic wannabee:)

Diane J. Evans said...

For being self-taught, you have produced some amazing pieces of art. Just keep doing what you're doing -- it's working beautifully.


Edith Bieri-Hanselmann said...

These pots I love! They are great!

Roxanne said...

Very informative post and I think your pots are lovely.

Unknown said... the colors too! Some day I would love to do this.

dany said...

I like this, the pots are my favorite! Brava, Nadia!

Tonya Ricucci said...

you really do beautiful work. I was investigating pique assiete (using lots of broken china, keys, and all sorts of found pieces) and found a good website at Joy of Shards

Elaine/Muddling Through said...

I love your pots, Nadia! And that you are using up things that would otherwise be thrown away just makes them better. Thanks for sharing some of your process.

Carole Reid said...

Nadia, your pots going up the chairs are beautiful. The kitty seems to like them too. Great, informative post with two interesting links I'll check out.

I've missed a few of you postings and wondered why. Then I read the dates you post and it's always on Sat or Sun which is when I take a break from the computer. I'll make a point of looking at your posts on Mondays from now on so I don't miss any more! Take care xo

Rachaeldaisy said...

Your pots are so beautiful! It's great to hear your processes and thoughts about design. That orb in the photo is fabulous, such a great idea.

Anonymous said...

I hope you have a fabulous time in the States. I wish I could meet you for coffee but I'm in Rhode Island and too far away! I lvoe your "Oranges from My Garden!"

Anonymous said...

Oh, that previous comment is me: Jodi of Oh, well. And a typo, to boot! I "love" your "Oranges from My Garden".

angela recada said...

Your mosaic pots are gorgeous! I'm often a bit too apprehensive when it comes to trying something new like mosaics, so I really like your attitude! What you're doing seems to be working very, very well. Just more proof that there is seldom only one *real* way to do something. Thanks for sharing your technique.

janae king...sewing patterns said...

Hi Naida, Love your pots...i want to make some. I've been looking for you in Greenbaum's...have you come thru the area yet? If I am not in the shop...please have them call me and I will jump in the car and come see you.

Sarah said...

Wow they are fantastic. Thanks for sharing with us. It makes me want to have a go!

Nellie's Needles said...

FUN! Those gorgeous pots would tempt anyone to go up those stairs to your roof. Now you I want to know what's up there ... especially, since you now know what's on my roof top deck ;-)

libbyquilter said...

i have a couple of crates full of dishes and 'whatnot' that have broken and i've saved them so that i might someday (hopefully soon) be able to try my hand at mosaicing. a friend told me that i shouldn't even start until i have LOTS of these bits as it takes more than one might think to create anything.
recently i seen a photo of wooden cupboard doors that had mosaiced centers within the sunken part of the middle. now i am mulling over doing something similar in my kitchen.
seeing your beautiful and resourceful pots has stoked up that mulling~! i wonder if i have enough bits and pieces now . . . ?
thank you for the links. i'll check them out and see what additioinal information i can find.

also, i too, live in an area that gets very cold during the winter and stays that way for a long winter season. the spring and fall seasons involve thawing and freezing frequently.
if we don't put the clay and porcelain pots out of the weather during these times they do not last for long. i assume the same would be true for anything that i mosaiced for outside use.

i've so enjoyed reading your blog this morning.
i'd love to add it to my sidebar if that would be okay with you.