Quilts for Sale

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mosaic Table Tops

I save stuff - a habit shared by anyone whose parents lived through The Great Depression. Much to my dh's chagrin, I'd hoarded old chipped/cracked dishes for years, telling him, "Don't dare throw those away! I'm going to do a mosaic table top someday." When my nephew and his family were here last week, Lisa and I dug into the shards and someday was finally here. We actually did it!

I found this book on mosaic technique today at Marshall's for $2.99. It would have been so helpful to have read this before our projects!

Mosaic Inspiration:

This fabulous mosaic mirror was spotted at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore. We both lusted after it while hunting for a table for Lisa.

Marbles and beads were added to china shards.

Small reddish beads surround the inner border next to the mirror.

We each began with an old table. Mine was a $6.16 find at Value Village years ago.

I'd originally considered refinishing this small Pembroke table.

Lisa's table, which originally had a lip edging, was found at Habitat. I love that it has a very handy lower shelf - and that it was already painted white.

Next came the china. Using a rubber mallet, we wrapped each plate/dish in an old towel before smashing it. (We soon found that the side of a hammer worked just as well.) Lisa divided the shards by color into half a dozen styrofoam plates.

Thrift store plates.
Chipped vintage china from my collection plus a few pieces of tile.

A combination tile adhesive/grout was spread on each table. We then began laying out our mosaics. I soon learned I'd spread my adhesive way too thick, as my old china was quite thin. It ended up sinking into the grout more than I'd planned. Looking back, I should have removed the shards, washed them off and started over. But I ignored my inner voice and continued, fearing everything would soon solidify.

Most of Lisa's china was newer and thicker than mine. She was also more judicious with her grout layer. Beginning by piecing together the large floral center of a plate, Lisa worked towards the edge with colorful yellows, greens, blues and reds. After a few hours, she spread grout over the top, wiping it off with a large damp sponge. Much time was spent getting the tiles cleaned and making sure the grout looked very nice.

I did not spread grout all over my shards, but pressed a board onto the top to help flatten the surface.
Lisa's table with grouted shards.

Lisa's table with excess grout removed. I love it, especially the flower right in the center.

My table turned out looking much more old-fashioned and pastel than I'd planned. But I like it just the same. I still have to paint the table white and add little blue tiles around the edges.

What We Learned:

1. Use care when applying the adhesive. Make sure it is not deeper than your china/tiles are thick. You just want the china/tiles to adhere, not be buried.

2. Because of edges and rims, it is difficult to get a flat surface when using shards of old china. Tile - perfectly flat to begin with - would have been easier to keep even. But IMHO, it would not have been as interesting.

3. Use a sealer over your completed mosaic to protect the surface from stains.

4. Doing mosaic work is a lot harder and more time consuming than it looks. Lisa and I couldn't believe it took hours!

5. Be sure to wear old clothes. This stuff is messy and does not wash out. Ask me how I know.

6. My next project will be a mirror or picture frame - something which does not have to be perfectly flat.

Note added July 12: Once we got all the china/tile broken up, I think we spent 5 or 6 hours making the mosaics. My table was about 16x24", Lisa's was a bit larger. Allow enough time for this project, as the adhesive will be solid as a rock once it sets up. You'll want to finish setting everything in place at one sitting. If I'd used less grout and had flatter pieces, I'm thinking I could have finished in about 3 hours. We did allow an overnight cure.


Antonija said...

These tables are wonderful! I've wanted to do a mosaic tab;e since watching Meryl Streep do ine in the movie, "One True Thing". I think you have just inpried me to take the leap! Thanks!

norma said...

They look fabulous and you had so much fun doing it.

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

Love them!

Deb said...

How long did the total project take? Not counting the shopping,because we know that can be an ordeal! Love those tables!

Jeanne Turner McBrayer said...

I have always wanted to do this! Thanks for the helpful tips. Your projects turned out great.