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RE: mosaic tips - long


From: Alix Peshette (apeshet_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 13 2003 - 11:30:30 PST

What a fun project for your kids! It should be a big hit as a fundraiser!
I have done a couple of broken mosaic garden tables (as opposed to 'dining
tables' which should be a smooth surface) and they came out great! I also
did a 50 foot long cobble stone walkway in the garden, inserting broken
mosaic designs into those 'pathmate' molds which are filled with concrete.
(Not for the faint of heart or muscle!)

Materials: I hit the thrift stores for pretty plates with a center motif and
hopefully interesting edge design. I also look for tons of cheap plates in
bright solid colors. This is a little harder to find as white is the usual
color for plates. I would suggest a school-wide broken and chipped 'Plate
Donation.' I would guess that everyone has one or two of these at home, in
the garage, etc. Also, you might approach the local thrift store and ask
for a donation of their really chipped plates; since these probably are not
selling anyway.

Tools: The motif plates work best if you snip away the edges and just use
the flat middles for design pieces. There are special tile snips which
'nibble' away at edges and really useful. These snips have jaws that don't
close completely, so the remaining tile piece isn't crushed. Someone else
has suggested a tile cutter. These are very useful for flat tiles, but
won't work for plates. A rubber mallet and some old bath towels are perfect
for wrapping and breaking plates without flying shards. Getting to the
break the plates can be the high point of this whole art experience for some
kids! (Point of interest: I haven't gotten cut from broken mosaics, but the
tile snip has 'slipped' a few times)

Breaking techniques: To keep the motifs intact as much as possible, either
cover the face of the plate with clear contact paper or a piece of brown
grocery bag covered in white glue. Let the glue dry completely before
breaking the plate. Gentle taps with the mallet are the way to start. Then
turn the plate over and check to see if more firmer taps are needed to make
smaller tile pieces. If the design looks good, then just glue it into place
and remove the contact paper or brown paper after the adhesive is set.
(Remove brown paper with a very wet sponge to soften the white glue.) I
prefer clear contact paper so that I can see and remember the design I've
done; also good for alignment. However, brown grocery bags and white glue
are cheap and available.

Adhesive: I have tried a lot of stuff, but really like "pre-mixed tile
adhesive and grout" from Home Depot. I put it on with a plastic hardware
spatula in a thick layer, then set the mosaic pieces. After a few minutes,
the pieces are pushed in more and then leveled as much as possible. After
the adhesive is completely dry, I slather on a another coat with the spatula
and try to push it into all the low areas, then gently scrap the surface
level. After the grout layer has set up a little, a damp cloth will remove
the excess and clean up the edges of the mosaic pieces. I haven't tried
coloring the grout yet, but bet it would make a really nice contrast to the
mosaics. Beware: the adhesive stuff is very drying to the hands. Rubber
gloves and lots of hand lotion really help.

Doing this with kids without losing your mind: I would seriously consider
giving everyone a cardboard surface or shoe box lid 'tray' to use to compose
a section of mosaic motif. They can even draw a design onto the cardboard
and then compose over it with tile. When finished, cover the design with
the contact paper or brown paper and set it aside. When there are enough of
these finished, then do the adhesive part. I would suggest having you be
in charge of managing the adhesive. After the main motifs are in place, the
kids can fill in the gaps with mosaic chips and left-overs.

More Broken Mosaic Project Ideas: Covering clay flower pots with mosaic is
a good cheap project and might be a big seller in a fundraiser. Also, if
you are really ambitious, consider pouring a mixture of concrete and cement
into shallow cardboard boxes, placing a few mosaic motifs into the surface
and then peeling away the cardboard box to end up with garden stepping

I've cast large table tops and garden stones by laying down a sheet of
plastic, constructing a circle from 6" high 'valley roofing tin', holding
the circle down with lengths of 2"x4"'s, pouring the concrete/cement into
the circle mold, and the placing the designs into the top.

Good luck and let us all know how it goes for you!

-Alix E. Peshette
Technology Coordinator
Emerson Junior High School
Davis, CA

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2003 11:43 PM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: mosaic question

Dear Artsednetters,

   I am getting ready to have my NJAHS mosaic three triangular tables as a
fundraiser... Originally, this task was assigned to me, the art teacher, to
do personally because "the art teacher can do anything!" ha ha ha. So to
take the burden off of me- I pass it along to my students who are more than
enthusiastic about it.

  I have several options for this project- to make our own tiles, which
would be ideal in my mind- to order pre-fab mosaic pieces, which seem like
they would be too pricey, or to try the broken dish approach. The latter of
the three seem to be my best bet because I have a budget of 100 dollars to
work with. My only concern about the broken dish aproach is fingers
getting cut.

Is there someone out there who can offer suggestions and/or advice? Any
input is greatly appreciated.