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…..here’s an idea of how to up-cycle them!
YOU WILL NEED:
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)
1) CREATE A BORDER
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.
2) CUT UP THE TILES FOR YOUR BEE’S.
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.
3) PLACE 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.
4) ADD YOUR WINGS.
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! 🙂
5) FILL IN YOUR BACKGROUND
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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! 🙂