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Glass mosaics are a great way to redecorate or restore floors, table tops, even picture frames. Although the steps to making glass mosaics might be a little intimidating at first, in fact they are fairly easy to do. Making glass mosaics is also a fun project for people who enjoy creative pastimes or who prefer unique interior decorations.
The first step is to decide on a project. If you have a tabletop that is damaged or needs refinishing, you could cover it in glass mosaic instead. Kitchen tables, coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, and occasional tables all look great with mosaic tops. An old windowpane covered in glass mosaic makes a great alternative to stained glass, or you could cover a photo frame in glass tiles as a smaller project. If you have a bathroom or kitchen floor that needs to be redone, you could cover it cheaply and attractively this way.
Finding enough glass or tile for your project is the second of the steps to making glass mosaics. You can find it in many different places, and for fairly cheap if you are creative about it. If your project calls for clear glass, you can use colored bottles, vases, ashtrays, and other various pieces of clear, colored glass. If you want opaque glass, consider using old dishes and other unwanted glass or porcelain items. You may also be able to find broken glass tile for little or no money.
When searching for glass for your mosaic, be sure to check out as many free or low-cost options as you can think of. Online sites and bulletin boards at work or school may provide you a place to advertise for unwanted glass or tile. Be sure to note that broken glass or tile is acceptable. Glass and tile can also be purchased inexpensively at garage sales and thrift stores.
The next step is to break the glass for your project. The goal is to create many random-shaped pieces that are large enough to work with — in other words, you don’t want to shatter the glass into tiny bits. Hit each piece with the hammer just once and take a look at the results before hitting it again.
Once you have broken all of your glass into pieces, start arranging it on the surface that you are redoing. Of all the steps to making glass mosaics, this step requires the most time and planning. You will need to decide whether to create a picture or a pattern with your glass mosaic, or just arrange the pieces randomly.
While you are doing this, keep in mind that the pieces don’t need to fit together perfectly, like a puzzle. In fact, there should be about 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) of space between each piece, so that you have room for the grout when you get to that step.
Once you have arranged all of the pieces to your satisfaction, it is time to move on to the fifth step: glue down each and every piece of glass. The point of arranging the glass first, and then gluing it down is to make sure you get everything in the right place, so make sure you are done with the previous step before you start on this one.
The sixth and last step to making glass mosaics is to fill in all the spaces between the pieces of glass with grout. Be sure to fill every space between the pieces completely. If the glass is still sharp, you will need to wear gloves to protect your hands. Once the spaces are all filled, you can use a damp towel to remove the grout from the tops of the pieces of glass. Once your mosaic is finished, be sure to let the glue and grout set for a while before using the piece, particularly if it is a table or a window hanging.
One really nice design you can use when making a glass mosaic is to find as many white mosaic tiles and pieces of glass as you can, and then use red grout in between it. This makes a sort of striking romantic contrast, that can be very effective. Or, any other color combination of tiles and grout.
It's not difficult to color the grout. You can use paint but it might not be waterproof, depending on the type. House paints are the best if you have some available.
Many hardware stores sell powdered grout dyes, or ready made colored grout although they usually don't have a wide range of colors.
I think if you are new to making mosaics that it might be a mistake to start with a huge project like a floor or a beloved table. Start with something you don't mind losing, as if you make a mistake it can be quite hard on the surface material when you scrape off the glue. Also, you should be sure the material you are sticking the tiles to is water tight. I once tried to put a mosaic pattern onto a terracotta pot and it looked really amazing until the first few times I watered the plant. When the water soaked out of the pot it interfered with the grout and the glue and ended up making a mess of the whole thing.
That kind of mistake is the reason you should either get a few professional lessons under your belt, or try a few smaller projects before tackling a big one.
If you want to make particular patterns, like flowers, or animals, you will have to learn how to use a glass cutter.
That sounds like it is a mechanical tool, or something big and scary that you plug into the wall, but in fact a hand held glass cutter is a small tool, about the size of a screwdriver, with a very small cutting blade. They usually don't cost more than ten or twenty dollars at the craft store and can be found among the stained glass making materials.
A glass cutter is used to score a groove into the glass or tile, and then you snap the pieces apart using pliers. If you want to design a picture in your mosaics, you should learn how to use a glass cutter, because then you won't have to hope after smashing the tiles with a hammer than they will come out the right size and shape.