Take a broken memory and put it together in a whole new way! Step-by-step directions for how to make a Mosaic Picture Frame will guide you through this easy DIY project.
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Whenever we go on vacation, Mr. B and I always try to find something really nice to take home as a memento of our adventure. We don’t buy a lot of tchotchkes (no snow globes or bumper stickers for us). Instead, we look for one small piece of art (or a musical instrument) that reminds us of the places and people we saw along the way.
A few years ago, we bought a beautiful set of pottery cups at a little place on Orcas Island up in the Puget Sound, and every time we used them, they reminded us of that lovely week we spent camping and kayaking in the San Juan Islands.
Until I knocked one of our cups off the counter and broke it.
At first, I thought I would just glue it back together, but one large chip was completely missing, so I sadly threw the pieces into our bathroom garbage can. They sat there for two days before I retrieved them to give them a second life.
When a special piece of glass or pottery breaks, it's easy to give it new life as a tiled mosaic - on a frame, a tabletop, a serving tray, or just about anything. Our cup was just the right size to cover a 5x7 mosaic picture frame.
How to Make a Mosaic Picture Frame Out of Old, Broken Ceramic Pieces
- Old, wide-rimmed picture frame (It doesn't need to be fancy, or even in good shape: I saved this one from the recycling bin.)
- Old plates, cup, etc (i.e., ceramics to smash)
- Tile Adhesive (Weldbond 8-50160 Multi-Purpose Adhesive Glue)
- Premixed Tile Grout (Jennifer's Mosaics Powdered Grout)
- Buttons, beads, or assorted do-das for embellishing (Totally optional. I used some extras from my beading supplies.)
Tools & Other Stuff:
- Safety goggles!!
- Bag in which to smash things (I like to double-up gallon size Ziploc bags for this step so that I can see what I am doing.)
- Latex gloves (or other gloves if you are allergic to latex)
- Clean sponge
- Paper towels
A - Set the Mosaic Pieces
- Put on the safety goggles. Really – put them on. Now. You do not want speeding shards of glass or pottery flying into your eyes.
- Put the Object To Be Smashed into the bag.
- Using the hammer, carefully smash the OTBS into large pieces using one intentional blow. This should give you a number of large pieces.
- At this point, I like to take the large pieces out of the bag. Then I put them back in, one at a time, and smash them into smaller pieces, removing the smaller pieces before putting another large piece in the bag. This method yields much better results and more uniform pieces than just smashing everything at once all willy-nilly. It also helps you isolate individual pieces that you want to preserve; for example, I was really careful to preserve the little “Orcas” piece from the artist’s stamp on the bottom so that I could use it in my mosaic. (It's the little grey piece in the lower right of the fist image.)
- Lay the pieces all out so you can see what you have to work with.
- Put on the latex gloves.
- Use the plastic knife to spread a layer of the adhesive/grout onto the frame. It was quite hot on the day that I made this one, so I only did one small section at a time so that the grout didn’t dry out too soon.
- Place the broken pieces of the Smashed Object onto the grout and press them in a little. (Be careful – there are some sharp edges there!)
- Once you have the frame covered with larger pieces, fill in smaller areas with embellishment items if you wish.
- Allow everything to set up for a few hours.
B - Grout the Mosaic Pieces
- Safety first. Put your gloves on again!
- Work prepared grout into the spaces between the pieces. (Once again, there are some really sharp edges there, so be careful!!)
- Using a moist (not wet) sponge, remove all the visible grout from the faces of the smashed object pieces. There will still be a film on them, but you can get most of it this way.
- Let mosaicked frame dry for about 20 minutes.
- Carefully polish each mosaic piece with a clean white cloth or paper towel – first wet, then dry. This can take a bit of time, even on a small project, but it is definitely worth the trouble. (Clean socks work well for this step.)
- Let everything dry for 24 hours before using your beautiful new frame.
NOTE: If you are making a mosaic on something that may get wet (e.g., serving tray, coffee tabletop), be sure to seal the final project with a grout sealer.
That's all there is to it! Next time you break a memory (or your kids do), don’t throw it away – make it into something beautiful!
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