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Monthly Archives: April 2012

‘How-to’ – Up-cycled mosaic coaster!

Hello and welcome to another fabulous ‘How-to’ here at Crafty Love’s up-cycling mad blog!

If you read my last post you will know that I was doing some rummaging in charity shops and found a lot of old unwanted coasters at a cost of next to nothing. Well…’s an idea of how to up-cycle them!



An old coaster. Surprising how many of these there are in your local charity shop…..if you can’t see them on display then ask.

Tile cutters/clippers. These a readily available at Ebay as well as most craft shops and can be purchased for under £10. I have got slightly more expensive ones as I do a lot of cutting, but if you are just planning on mosaic as a  light hobby, then any tile clippers will do!

Various tiles. For this design I have used black and yellow/orange/gold for the bee’s, blue for the background and a lovely shimmer green for the border.

Tile adhesive or Interior Grab Adhesive. (no more nails)



I have chosen green tiles for the border in this design. I have decided to cut them in half to leave more space in the middle for the design, but you could just use whole tiles for the border if you wanted just one bee in the centre. Cut each tile in half until you have enough to cover the edge of the coaster (11 – 12 tiles if your tiles are 1cm)

Next put a line of glue all the way around the edge of the coaster. This needs to be thick enough to hold the tiles, any excess can be wiped away afterwards. Rough amount shown below:

Fix your tiles onto the edge. They can be placed roughly and then adjusted so that they are all evenly spaced and straight. I know it sounds silly to start with the border and work inwards but the border is integral in the finished look of the design. It makes everything neat and square so take some time getting it right. You will need to pause throughout your work to check that none of the tiles have become moved or out of line as you are working. Once your border is in place, gently wipe off the excess glue with a piece of kitchen towel (or your fingers!) Make sure you don’t leave excess glue on the INSIDE of your border as this will harden and effect the placing of the rest of the tiles.


I have chosen to use three different colours for my bee’s. A glitter gold, an orange and a yellow. I thought this would give the design further depth but I think it would also look nice with all the bees the same colour. For the bee design you need to cut your tiles into strips. The tiles I’m using are 2cmx2cm and I have cut them lengthways into quarters.

CUTTING TIP: If there are ridges on the rear of your tiles then always make your first cut AGAINST the ridges (SHOWN BELOW)

You can see above that I have cut across the ridges, not with them. This makes it less likely that the cut will go ‘wonky’ (professional term)! As you can see, even with plenty of practice, you will never achieve perfect symmetry. However sometimes roughly cut tiles actually improve the look of a piece. It all depends what effect you are looking for.

Do this with a few yellow and black tiles until you have a little pile to create your bees.


Now I don’t like symmetry much and I generally always make my designs off centre. You can choose to put your bees where you like on your coaster. I have chosen to place three bees at slightly different angles to suggest buzzy randomness! Put a blob of glue where you would like the centre of your bee to rest. Then apply a full length tile on the glue, this should be a yellow tile for the design I am demonstrating. Now to suggest a nice round bee you will need to shorten the tiles as you work outwards. Take two black strips and cut a tiny (2-3mm) bit off the end of each one. Then place either side of your first yellow tile.

You can be as neat or as scruffy as you like! Then take two yellow strips and cut a little bit more off (5-7mm you get the idea!) then place at either end of your bee. This has completed your bee shape! Simply repeat to make your other bees.

If you work quickly enough you will be able to slide the tiles around a bit before the glue hardens to achieve the positions you want. This is why I like to cut my tiles in advance so I can work while the glue is still setting.


For the wings I have chosen a small shimmer tile in a neutral colour. I have made small triangles by cutting the square into quarters and then each quarter into two triangles.

As these are small tiles I like to dip them in a bit of glue rather than applying the glue directly to the tile. I usually just squeeze a bit of glue out of the tube so it’s sticking out a bit and dip the tile into it. This tends to be less messy when using small tiles but I’ll leave it up to you! Place your wings above each bee in whatever position you like! 🙂


I have used approximately 10 2cmx2cm blue tiles for this design. Take around half your tiles and cut them into random ‘almost’ triangles. You can angle the cutters differently each time to create a random cut for each one. Cut each tile in half and use as many of these big bits as you can to fill in around the bee shapes.

As you can see I have tried to put the blue tiles in so that their corners separate the detail of the wings, so that the corners are pointing in between the wing tiles. Try and keep the straight edges along the border if you can as this will give a neater finished effect. Once you have as many larger bits as you can get in then you can use the rest of your tiles to cut up smaller and fill in the gaps.

As you can see, the tiles do not have to fit together perfectly. You just need to make sure that you are not leaving too big gaps between the tiles as then your grout may end up cracking. You don’t really want a gap of more than 2-3mm max between tiles.


I think a coaster is an excellent project for a first time mosaic as it’s small and relatively quick to make. It’s also a nice flat surface to grout. You can use any colour you like but I am going to use a light blue as I think it will compliment this design. To achieve the colour I simply add a bit of blue acrylic paint to the normal white tile grout that you can buy at any DIY store. This will withstand any small spillages but I would not use this for a piece that was destined to live outside (however that’s a whole other story!)

I find that most grouting tools are too firm for me as I like the ‘spatula’ to be flexible. The best thing for me is a piece of quite solid cardboard with a bit of flex in it. The type used in most large cardboard boxes! I tear off a piece around 5cmx5cm and scoop some grout out then straight onto the coaster. Make sure you press firmly and smooth the grout in every direction to ensure there are no air holes. Don’t worry too much if a couple appear during drying as you can fill these in. Once covered in grout you can then scrape off as much as you can with a (only very slightly) damp sponge or cloth. I sometimes use my fingers again for this, but with caution!

Allow your grout to dry for a full 12 hours, 24 if you can wait that long. This means you can give it a really good polish without fear of it cracking. Et Viola!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I’d love to see any pictures if you do attempt to make this design or one of your own! You can post them on my wall at Crafty Love’s FB page found here:

I am also going to be making up some ‘kits’ for this design, inluding the coaster and all the tiles required to follow this ‘how-to’. If you would be interested in purchasing a kit you can either message me at my mosaic FB page

Or email me at


As usual, if you enjoyed this post please comment and let me know your thoughts. It’s the only feedback us bloggers get and I’d love to hear from you! 🙂






Finding off-cuts and rummaging!

So I am feeling pretty pleased with myself after finding this little lot today and bagging it all for just £8!


It may not seem like much so here’s a breakdown:

24 coasters and large piece of mirrored glass, all found in charity shops and altogether costing the princley sum of £6! I will obviously be using the mirror for some kind of mosaic project and am thinking of doing some ‘how-to’ mosaic step-by-steps with the coasters. I’m thinking cute bumble bee’s possibly with flower detail! I will of course be posting plenty of pictures when I’m done. Thought a mosaic ‘how-to’ was long overdue as that is my primary craft.

FREE – 6 pieces of wood from Homebase as they were cut-off’s left over from other customers! They even cut them up for me, in return for a small donation into their charity box 🙂  I think these are a great size for small mosaic projects or even practising designs.

£2 for 4 small flower pots which will look great spruced up with some sparkly mosaics!

It just goes to show that, even in today’s economic climate, you can still find yourself a bargain if you’re not too shy to ask! I am a regular at my local glaziers where I often get their off-cut bits of mirror at a very reduced price. I am not afraid to ask for these because I know that if I don’t take them, then they have to pay to dispose of them. So not only are they getting a small amount of money from me but they’re also saving money too!

I have also been known to pop into any kind of tiling shop and ask if they have any unwanted stock. I always offer to pay….but sometimes they are happy to just give them to you. I’ve had a few disgruntled shop owners who don’t like the idea, but really not very many. Most people are happy to give you what they are not using, especially if they’re getting a small amount in return,

As this post is on the theme of charity shop finds and reduced price items, I thought I’d share some picture of things that I have up-cycled so far.

The first picture I have to share is a favourite of mine. I found this elephant on sale in Wilkinsons. He was badly scuffed and chipped on the top and was originally plain black pottery. I bought him for 50p. After A LOT of love and attention (much cutting, sticking, glueing and polishing!) he was re-born to be loved once more and has been re-homed!


Found with him was this slightly smaller elephant who had also been damaged. He had a chunk broken off of his ear, which I repaired with some grout and plaster of Paris! He was bought this Christmas as a special present for an elephant lover.


A common item in charity shops is the picture frame. I have found lots of good ones and re-made them, although you do have to really check them carefully for damage. I have had a couple break after I have re-made them, meaning I have not only lost time but my tiles too! I only buy them now if they are of a very high quality.

You can see some here in a picture of my stall at a craft fair.


If you’ve been into many charity shops then you’ll know just how many glasses there are on the shelves! I find a lot that are just the right size for tea-light holders, a few of which can be seen here:


One of my best finds were two large wooden bowls, which were a pound each in my local Oxfam. I have sold one of these so far and the other is a work in progress. I love the geometric feel of this one, so too did the lovely lady who bought it!


This is the second bowl, which is still ‘in the making’. It’s a more relaxed design with some lovely purple tones. Incidentally, most of the purple tiles that I have been using recently were found at the back of a large tiling shop near me. The fashion for bathrooms has moved from small mosaics to large neutral stone and therefore the shop owner had no use for them! I got over ten sheets for a pound each, as there are 250 tiles on each sheet that’s pretty good! You can see just how pretty they are in this picture, they have a lovely shimmery effect.


Below is a small mirror bought in a charity shop, it was originally plain wood.


Last but certainly not least is a mosaic heart, made using a chipped vase found (yet again) in Oxfam! Lovely bird detail on the pottery.


Even old Christmas serviettes can be up-cycled! I made these for our Christmas tree last year……initially was going to sell them at a fair but loved them so much I kept them all!


Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry and I hope it’s maybe given you some ideas for an up-cycling project of your own!

Remember at my Facebook page Crafty Love I love to see any pictures of things that you’ve up-cycled, just pop onto the page and message me the pic or post it on my wall!  I have a great album called ‘Up-cycled Wonders’ which I add the best pictures to!

Crafty Love can be found here:

If you’d like to see more of my mosaic work you can find it here:

If you’ve enjoyed this post please comment and let me know your thoughts. It really is the only feedback us bloggers get! Make sure you ‘follow’ my blog to be notified when I post a new entry. I will be adding some great mosiac ‘how-to’s soon……using the coasters above maybe! 🙂 x

Hello and welcome to another Crafty Love ‘how-to’ blog! This fabulous idea has been contributed by the lovely Sharon at The Old Button, another great Facebook page! You can find The Old Button here:

Now you will need some sewing skill to follow this how-to as it is a little more complicated than some of our previous posts! I’m sure you sewing enthusiasts will have a good go at it though!

Don’t forget, if you do attempt any of our Crafty Love ‘how-to’s then I’d love to see a picture of the results so just message me at Crafty Love:

Thanks very much….over to Sharon 😉

Draught Excluders by The Old Button

OK, so I know it’s not seasonal as the weather here inSouth Walesis an amazing 20 degrees – unheard of in March! But I really want to share with you my recycled draught excluders. Look at what you can make with some small offcuts of fabrics and old duvets. So get ahead and be ready to beat those winter chills.

While the sample books had loads of gorgeous fabrics, each piece was rather small and they were often different sizes. Initially I wasn’t sure what I could do with them. However, I love patchwork and live in an old draughty house, so it didn’t take long to come up with this idea.

I cut each small piece of fabric into patches that were the same height. I wanted really fat excluders so I went for around 12 inches. I used different widths, both to make sure I made the most out of each piece and to create a varied patchwork look. I also joined very small offcuts and pieces to make the correct height. I sewed the patches together until I got the right length for my doors, making sure I used a generous seam allowance and zigzagged the seams, which was essential as some of these fabrics frayed badly.  I pressed carefully as I went along.

I used a piece of spare upholstery fabric in a toning colour for the backing, placing the patchwork panel on the backing right sides together, and sewing round the two long edges and one short edge.  Again I used a generous seam and zigzagged to neaten. Turning the excluder the right way and pressing carefully to sharpen each seam gave me a long tube ready for stuffing.

Being thrifty, I avoided buying stuffing and looked around the house for something to fill my excluder. I did think about using old tights and cut up fabric offcuts (an old trick from the Second World War when clothes and fabric were rationed).  However, this gives a soft floppy filling and I wanted a full smooth look to go with the sophisticated fabrics I had used.

My first excluder was stuffed with wadding I recycled from a couple of old pillows. I wash my hollow fibre pillows regularly, but they sometimes come out lumpy. I cut open some of the worst culprits and used the freshly washed contents to tightly fill an inner lining bag I sewed from an old sheet and had placed inside the excluder cover.

The open edges were sewed by hand using an invisible ladder stitch and the excluder was ready to go! Result! A great looking draught excluder made at zero cost (ok, cotton and electricity apart) and very environmentally friendly.

Spurred on, I made some more. Having run out of pillows, I turned to a pile of old children’s duvets I had washed and squirreled away in the airing cupboard.  These were great – cut to the correct length and rolled into a sausage. A few big tacking stiches down the length held it together without the need for an inner lining. It was a bit hard feeding the sausage into the excluder tube though!

These pictures show some of the old buttons and bits of left over braid trim I used to decorate the draught excluder’s.

This patchwork design can easily be adapted to use any small pieces of fabric and filled with a variety of fillings. It would look great in patches cut from your children’s treasured but out grown  clothes, your well-loved jeans or from pieces found in the remnant bins in most fabric shops.  It would also work well for a long feature cushion on a bed. Happy patching!

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you did then please drop us a comment as it’s the only feedback us bloggers get! Also, make sure you follow our blog to be updated on our new ‘how-to’ posts! Thank you 🙂 x