Turning Scraps into Stars: The Basics of Mosaics

18 Aug 2020 7:57 PM | Mary Hannaford (Administrator)

There is so much going on at the Roswell Firelabs Makerspace that we end up with a lot of scraps from various projects: scrap wood, vinyl, fabric, and even glass! Rather than throw it out, we do our best to find other ways to use it. We used some of that scrap fabric recently as we reupholstered the stools in our lobby area. (Sometimes our ‘scrap’ pieces can be pretty big!) Members are also free to use any of these scrap materials - just be mindful that they are in the scrap areas and not something set aside for another member’s project!

In another pandemic project, Roswell Firelabs member Bill Reif used some of the scrap glass from his stained glass classes to create a mosaic birdbath! While glass pieces can be used in a lot of different ways - such as for glass fusing, which we’ll talk about in next week’s post - mosaics are a great way to use up pieces that are too thick to hold in a stained glass frame well, or have irregular thicknesses, or even just ones that you think are pretty enough to include!

There are many options for how to form the base layer of a mosaic. Some can be done with clay, cement, or even metal. Bill formed his birdbath using premixed grout. This is a great medium to work with because it’s less messy than traditional grout and still dried fairly quickly. Plus, it’s easy to find! Most hardware stores will carry it by the bucket. Once you’ve picked out your material, it’s just a matter of shaping it into what you want from your mosaic. For beginners, a good place to start is a simple stepping stone. This helps avoid some of the complications that come with needing height for your project. For a project like a birdbath, you can also purchase or reuse a stand that already exists and simply apply the grout to the area which you want to decorate. (This is definitely my preferred method!)

The glass pieces must be applied to this base material while it’s still wet and pressed in so that the glass surface is flush with the surface of the base. Additional grout can also be added in between glass pieces as needed, but it runs the risk of covering up the edges of the glass. Keep a damp cloth or paper towel handy for wiping off the glass. Once the grout dries, it becomes much more difficult to remove. Then all that’s left is letting the base material set. From start to finish, BIll’s birdbath took about 20 hours to complete. With a good chunk of that being dry time, mosaics are a great weekend project!

Make sure you never miss an update (like when we’ll start in-person classes like our stained glass class again) by joining us on Slack or following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.



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Roswell FireLabs
1601 Holcomb Bridge Rd

Roswell, GA 30076

Roswell FireLabs is managed by Atlanta Maker Alliance, Inc., a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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