Create Mosaic Magic in Your Garden | Midwest Living

Create Mosaic Magic in Your Garden

Add personality to your garden with easy mosaic projects you create from pieces of tile, pottery and glass.
  • Garden jewels

    Broken pottery, glass and porcelain become beautiful flower containers, stepping-stones and other garden accessories with a little craftwork and imagination.

    Click ahead to find out how to make your own garden jewel—and to get ideas for creative ways to use mosaics on stepping-stones, birdbaths, benches and more.

  • Gather supplies

    For a flowerpot, one of the most popular outdoor mosaic projects, you'll need:
    --Terra-cotta pots
    --Decorative materials such as a patterned china plate, ceramic tiles and glass pebbles
    --A towel or cloth
    --Protective goggles
    --Plastic knife
    --Small box of thin-set mortar
    --Sanded grout
    --Soft rags and sponges
    --Disposable gloves
    --Tile float (optional)
    --Grout sealer (optional)

  • Break your mosaic pieces

    To break plates, tile or pottery into mosaic-size pieces, wrap the materials in a towel or cloth. Wearing goggles to protect your eyes, pound with a hammer. Stop occasionally to check the size of the smashed pieces -- you don't want them too small. Pieces 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter are easiest to work with.

    For more control over the result—and to preserve any important decorations on your tile or china—use nippers to cut and shape pieces.

  • Start your design

    Sketch your design on the pot, indicating where you want certain sections of color or specific patterns. Wearing gloves and using the plastic knife, spread a 1/4-inch layer of thin-set mortar over the first section of your design. (For larger projects, use a notched mortar trowel to spread the mortar.) Do one area at a time; the mortar will begin to harden in 15 minutes. Press mosaic pieces into the wet mortar, spacing them about 1/4 inch apart. Repeat with remaining sections of your design. Let the mortar dry overnight.

  • Grout and finish your piece

    Mix grout according to package directions to a mudlike consistency. Slather grout into the crevices between mosaic pieces using a tile float or your gloved fingertips. Let set 10 to 15 minutes. Remove excess grout by wiping the mosaic with a clean, damp sponge. Polish off the remaining fimy residue with a soft cloth. Let dry, then apply a grout sealer, if desired, to prevent staining.

  • Display ideas

    Tile shards embedded in colored grout create rustic pots perfect for displaying on a stand such as this aged ladder. Other ideas for your mosaic pots:
    —Group plant-filled pots for a pretty centerpiece.
    —Fill pots with flatware and napkins for outdoor parties.
    —Fill tiny mosaic pots with wrapped candy or soaps, and use as party favors.

  • Preserve favorite plates

    You can lend sentimental value to your mosaic work by using an old dish set, or turn an accident into a blessing by giving new life to a broken treasured memento. Here, classic Blue Willow china creates a pleasing two-color combination on pots.

  • Shore memories

    Display treasures gathered during a trip to the shore by overlaying them on a terra-cotta pot using the same technique described for making tile mosaics. If you haven't been to the beach lately, buy an assortment of small- to medium-size shells at a crafts store. The best buy is the bulk bag of assorted shells.

  • Stepping-stones and other projects

    Use the same basic technique described in slides 2 through 4 to create stepping-stones or any other mosaic project.

    While you can create mosaics on many different bases, keep in mind that a mosaic attached to a porous base such as wood will need protection from the elements. If your mosaic will be outdoors year-round, choose a base of concrete, stone, brick or ceramic, and use frostproof, waterproof grout. Terra-cotta pots vary in durability; if you're not sure, it's best to bring pots indoors in the winter.

    See more information on how to make mosaic stepping stones.

  • A new shell

    A concrete turtle from a garden center makes an ideal base for a mosaic of small ceramic squares.

  • Birdbath mosaic

    Tile and pebble embellishments sparkle in shallow birdbaths. Match the grout to the color of the bowl to show off your mosaic work.

  • Floating flower bowl

    Create a shallow mosaic bowl for floating flowers with a ceramic pot saucer. (Thin plastic pots or saucers don't work well for mosaics because the material flexes, causing pieces to pop off.)

  • Pillar perfection

    Eight, 10- and 18-inch-diameter PVC pipes cut to varying heights serve as the bases for these mosaic pillars. Overturned terra-cotta saucers turn two of the pipes into pedestals; the third cradles a flowerpot.

  • Bench beauty

    Ribbons of square glass tiles entwine on the surface of a concrete garden bench. The pattern also includes blue glass pebbles and pieces of an heirloom cake plate.

  • Swirling steps

    Mosaic-embellished steps show off a pattern that suggests movement—and a family pet that just enjoys a resting place!

  • A mosaic garden

    Read about a Wisconsin gardener who mingles artful mosaic-art pieces with colorful blooms to create a magical yard full of inspiration.

    Garden Tour: Door County Mosaic Art

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