It's finally completed. I am very happy to have this table out of my craft studio and on it's merry way to the Salvation Army Transformed Treasure Auction to be held on May 5, 2012. This was my first and only attempt at doing mosaic tile work. I can cross this one off my list of things to try. I can sit and patiently cut out little bits of paper for hours and hours on end, but found that I have no patience for doing mosaic work. I learned a great many things about mosaic and it really is an art form that I do not see myself exploring again, EVER.
I began this project by deciding that I needed to leave a border around the mosaic so my sister being the handy gal she is with power tools helped and used a router on the center of the table. It was not that fun but looking at the final results well worth the hassle, inhaled sawdust and three days of dirty kleenex.
I sealed the center of the table with some studio matte medium gel and then painted the table with a couple of coats of gesso. Many many coats of Americana acrylic paint in Russet were applied next. I then used a matte sealer from Krylon to seal the whole table.
I broke up all the little plates between two layers of towels with a hammer (this was the most fun step of the whole project) and began the process of laying the pieces on the table. I found out the hard way that unless you know what you are doing a random pattern is the way to go (and gluing down right away is also not recommended). I had to scrape off the first attempt and start over.
It took some experimentation with a couple of different glues to find the right one for the plate pieces, I ended up using Weldbond. It has the same consistency as Elmer's school glue so I ended up using a cheap paintbrush and brushing the glue on. I found this to be the best method to get the right amount of glue on both the table and plate pieces.
After gluing down all the pieces I then let glue set up for a couple of days, okay I will admit I left the table for a good week because I was really tired of looking at it and needed a break after three days of gluing down the pieces. Then came the most frustrating stage of the project, grouting the table. I found out the hard way you really need to use the right grout for this, and when they say your grout lines can only be a certain size, they mean your grout lines can only be a certain size. I used a latex based grout that I purchased at my local Michaels store because I was not comfortable trying the mix your own kind of grout (in hindsight this was the type I should have used). I had many cracks appear because my grout lines were too big for this product. It took three layers of grout, which I had to rub in with my fingers because some of the plate pieces had a slight curve to them and this was the only way to get the grout under the rounded shape. As the grout set and the cracks appeared I had to wet a finger and rub it over the cracks to fix them. This was a lot like watching grass grow and took a few hours but finally got to the stage where the grout was set enough and the cracks stopped appearing.
After letting the grout set for couple of days I had to sand of the grout "finger" prints I managed to get all over the table top, applied some more coats of paint and sealer and finally was able to call my table done.
I must admit that the table turned out pretty darned good for my first attempt at mosaic and I am looking forward to the auction to see if anyone agrees with me :)