Creative Reuse Project: Make Your Own Mosaic!
By Kelsey Colpitts, Marketing Fellow
For our latest upcycling project, we made mosaics in preparation for an upcoming event we are having in collaboration with Make-It Springfield! This free public event will involve using tiles donated from EcoBuilding Bargains to create a mosaic in Springfield that adds art and beauty to the downtown. We are excited to be working under the guidance of Robert Markey, an experienced artist who has completed mosaic installations around the world! This event will take place over 2 days: June 5 and June 12, both from 1pm-5pm. It is recommended for children ages 12 and up, however younger children are invited to participate if they will be closely monitored by an adult. We hope to see you there!
If you can’t make it to the event, or want to mosaic at home, here are some helpful instructions and tips to make your very own mosaic! We love this project because it is a great way to reuse broken or unwanted materials and get creative!
There are several different techniques and preferences when it comes to making mosaics! Our list of materials included:
- Tile – This is a perfect opportunity to reuse extra, unwanted or broken tiles you have lying around your home. EcoBuilding Bargains also sells tiles for just pennies apiece! If you wish to make a counter top or flat surface, it is helpful to choose tiles that have the same depth. Other material can be used such as glass, shells and mirrors!
- Surface – This will serve as the foundation to adhere the tiles to. You can use lots of different materials such as a picture frame, mirror, birdbath, countertop or even a piece of plywood!
- Mortar – This can be purchased at any hardware store. If the finished mosaic will go outside, choose a thin-set mortar which is more adhesive and water-resistant.
- Safety goggles
1. Break the tile! – Use a hammer to gently break each tile into smaller pieces. They break fairly easily, so only minimum force is needed. Make sure to wear safety goggles and exercise caution!
Optional Step: If there is a specific design you would like, place tile pieces on your surface before applying the mortar and grout. You can take a picture of your design to copy when completing the project. Beware of sharp edges and handle the pieces with care.
- Prepare the mortar. Add mortar to a plastic container and pour small amounts of water until the product attains a thick consistency. If it becomes too thin, just add more of the mortar powder! Read the container for specific manufacturer recommendations.
- Use a spatula or trowel to apply a thin layer of the mortar/water mix to the desired surface. It should be around ¼” thick to adequately hold the tiles. Mortar dries quickly, so it can be helpful to do smaller sections at a time.
4. Place each individual tile piece on the mortar. Make sure to leave space in between each piece – a good rule of thumb is between 1/8” and ½”
5. Wait 24 hours for the mortar to harden. This to ensure that each tile piece is held securely in place.
6. Prepare the grout – similar to the mortar, it is best to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to determine the appropriate water-to-mix ratio! Before advancing to the next step, let the grout set for about 5-10 minutes.
7. Fill in the gaps between the tiles using a spatula or knife. If grout gets on the tile pieces, carefully wipe off with a sponge and warm water as you go.
8. Let the mosaic sit for about 20 minutes, polish the tiles with a sponge or towel to remove excess grout.
Watch our segment on Mass Appeal for a live demonstration!