Bits & Pieces Focus on mosaics

September 13, 1998|By Kathy Van Mullekom | Kathy Van Mullekom,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Flip through craft and home decorating magazines and you will see the look of mosaics moving in - candleholders, picture frames, pottery and small murals for the home.

You'll also see mosaics showing up in the form of custom-designed tabletops for indoor and outdoor use, mirror frames and pottery.

Mosaics, a centuries-old art, can be compared to creating a jigsaw puzzle where you move the pieces around until you are happy with the results, says an article in the Craft Needlework Age magazine. You don't have to be an artist or skilled

craftsman to design something personally yours.

To gather material for a mosaic piece, shop garage sales or thrift stores for odd or chipped pieces of china that can be broken into shards. Your own kitchen cupboards may yield all you need. Mosaics also can be made from colored glass, buttons, broken pottery, porcelain flowers, teapots, drawer pulls, coins, mirrors, marbles and jewelry.

The craft is so affordable because most of the materials are castoffs. Craft companies, however, do offer bits and pieces for mosaics, along with tools like tile nippers, glues and grouts. Shop craft stores for supplies made by Plaid Enterprises and Gallery Glass.

The home and garden crafts featured in the book "Making Bits & Pieces Mosaics" by Marlene Hurley Marshall show you how to make jewelry from shards, a project simple enough for children. You can recycle broken tiles and dishes to create a colorful garden table, or use marbles, mirror pieces and tiles to flame new life into an outdated fireplace.

"Making Bits & Pieces Mosaics" includes a list of basic materials and instructions for making the book's many projects.


Safety goggles, dust mask for mixing grouts and grinding edges, hammer for breaking dishes, canvas to wrap dishes before breaking them, glass cutter, small drill with buffing bits for grinding china edges (or ceramic tile metal file), coarse sandpaper to sand base surfaces before applying shards, rubber gloves when applying grout, bucket for clean water, jumbo craft sticks to apply mastic, paring knife to scrape off excess grout, terry towel, spray bottle to moisten grout as you work, lazy Susan for positioning work, plastic containers for grout.


Base and shards: Mastic - adhesive for ceramic tile; a filler used on dents in cars will hold larger items.

Unsanded grout - sold in dry powdered form in many colors.

Acrylic additive - stronger hardener used in place of water when mixing grout; good for outdoor use or kitchen back-splash, anything exposed to water.

Grout pigments - available in all sorts of colors.


1. Prepare base surface; lightly sand wood; thin layer of mastic texturizes surface for good grip.

2. Assemble shards.

3. Apply shards, starting with central piece. Use craft stick to apply dab of mastic to back of each shard and place in position. Press firmly. Mastic should not ooze.

4. Allow eight hours to dry.

5. Mix grout and pigment. Slowly add acrylic additive or water and mix thoroughly to consistency of thick mud.

6. Spread grout over section of surface, pushing grout between shards to fill gaps. Fill thoroughly, because holes or cracks allow moisture to eventually seep in.

7. Use craft stick to scrape off heavier portions of grout from shard surface only.

8. Wipe piece clean with dry terry towel.

9. Allow grout to harden, two to three hours.

10. Use small power grinder or metal file to grind down rough or sharp edges on piece.

11. Polish finished surface with dry terry towel.


1. Grout dries in one hour. Remove dried grout by misting it before scraping.

2. Piece will look messy as grout is applied.

3. Fill grout gaps as you go. Additional grout may be needed dTC

after piece is dry.

For more information

"Making Bits & Pieces Mosaics" by Marlene Hurley Marshall ($24.95, Storey Books) is available at bookstores nationwide; Storey Publishing, 800-441-5700; or

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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