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How to Make Faux Mosaic Tiles - Repurposing Craft Demo

Updated on August 23, 2014
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Mosaic tiles are hugely popular right now.

In reality, mosaic tiles have been around for centuries. Mosaic works have been highly sought after pieces of art around the world.

I love them. They are tons of fun but if you have seen a few, you know they are really heavy.

Would you like the look of a mosaic tile work without the weight or the fancy price? How about something custom with a Tuscany grape motif?

Come along here with me to see just how it got pulled off the do it yourself way. It was fun and it was frugal.

This is a easy craft that most ages can master. Let's see how this thing was made and what you can use as substitutes for required materials.

The finished tile yet to be hung.

Source

The hanger is totally optional.

This is not where this little dear will be staying.  I hung it up here just to get the picture.  It's going in my new office, if my husband ever finishes it.
This is not where this little dear will be staying. I hung it up here just to get the picture. It's going in my new office, if my husband ever finishes it. | Source

Choices!

For base - A box that has been cut, chip board, corrugated cardboard.

For coaster - Trading cards, playing cards, greeting cards, post cards, even printed images on cardstock or thick construction paper.

For Mod Podge - Children's white glue like Elmer's brand or make your own from flour and water. Because we mix it with paint, it will work for the grout. It will not work for the final finish coat.

The first step to any successful project is to gather up everything you need.

After protecting your work surface in some way, to make a tile exactly like this one, you will need a thin wooden base, paint, Mod Podge, gold glitter, two paper coasters, black durable ribbon, scissors, a glue gun, one ring and a black permanent marker.

If you don't have this stuff, don't worry about it. You can still do this.

The base could be made of cut out cardboard, a cut out box, really thick card stock, a number of things. Use your imagination and what you have.

For the paper coasters, if you don't have any you want to cut up, just print some cool art you like off the Internet on card stock. Don't have card stock? Glue the printed image to cardboard.

Puzzle pieces would work really well for this project as would actual bits of broken glass.

The next time one of the kids or pets breaks a pretty plate, save the pieces and make a mosaic tile. Broken bits of cups, teapots, figurines, many things would work for this activity. Just be sure to wear work gloves, if you use actual glass.

Paint covers everything.

Always save old food containers and lids to use for holding glue, paint and other icky stuff you don't want in the good dishes.
Always save old food containers and lids to use for holding glue, paint and other icky stuff you don't want in the good dishes. | Source

Start by selecting the base and painting it.

In this case, I used a very inexpensive circular wooden plaque. It's thin, lightweight, and raw wood.

This could just as easily be done on scrap wood or any kind of thick cardboard. Pretty much anything that will support just a bit of weight and not bend will work.

Paint the base what ever color you desire. I went with plain Jane black craft paint and a nasty old brush I really should throw out. I can't seem to get it really clean anymore. Base coats are good places to use such inferior tools.

Any imperfections in brush strokes on the base coat will magically disappear in this project as long as they aren't holes of no paint at all.

To make the fake tile pieces, grab the scissors and a marker.

You will need some heavy duty scissors for this project.
You will need some heavy duty scissors for this project. | Source

Using the proper tools makes a huge difference, not just in the project, but in your comfort level.

If you use coasters to do this, you really need a pair of hefty scissors.

As age is starting to kick my behind, I'm finding cutting thick objects to be more and more of a pain. I'm talking literally here. It hurts. My hands cramp and sometimes it's hard to continue.

Using a heavy duty pair of scissors helps this aggravation a lot. As a teacher, I got so used to using the same scissors I gave the students, i.e. child safety scissors, sometimes I just reach for them automatically.

It's really not worth all the extra effort required. Use the good ones. If you don't have a good pair, or just don't like dealing with curvy cuts and scissors, an Exacto knife would work well.

If using printed images, cards, pictures or anything roughly that thickness, kid's scissors will work great.

While waiting for the paint to dry, it's time to begin the next step.

I love paper coasters for crafting. These small, lightweight, really super cheap little works of art allow for some awesome imagery with just a bit of creativity.

What I'm calling a paper coaster here is really a form of cardboard with an image on each side.

This particular set of coasters came in a little box of eight for a dollar. Not bad.

Alternatively, the more pricey coasters often have a plastic ring, or perhaps a cork backing. They work much better as coasters, but don't waste your money on them for crafty fun.

If you don't have coasters, you could use playing or trading cards. Pictures printed on card stock or a few layers of construction paper would serve you well.

Just about any kind of image you can think of, as long as it's not totally flat, like a single sheet of paper will work for you. You need just a tiny bit of thickness for this to work.

However, be sure it's not something that can't be replaced because we are going to cut it up.

Also, for safety reasons, avoid picking images on tin, aluminum or any other kind of thin metal. It would work, but chances of you cutting yourself when making the mosaic pieces will be high.

If you just have to use something like that because the image calls your name, wear thick work gloves and use metal cutters.

Step three turns the coaster into a jigsaw puzzle.

The image on the coaster needs to be broke apart. To do this, just grab a pencil or a marker and trace out where you want to cut. Then get to cutting it apart.

One could just go to cutting at random on multiple images and mix it up. The beauty of a mosaic is that by nature, it's all mixed anyway.

I wanted mine to roughly resemble the image as was which is why I did it this way but you don't have to.


Cut out pieces to make the mosaic look.

Source

It's actually easier not to try to keep the image recognizable.

A major advantage of not trying to replicate the image is that spacial concerns are greatly lessened. Just put the pieces where you want them and have fun.

Use a pencil or marker to designate where each piece will go.

You don't need to get fancy here but it really helps to make a dot where each piece will go.  If trying to keep the image somewhat in tact, start from one side on the top and work in rows finishing each before starting the next.
You don't need to get fancy here but it really helps to make a dot where each piece will go. If trying to keep the image somewhat in tact, start from one side on the top and work in rows finishing each before starting the next. | Source

Step four is to apply our mosaic pieces to the base.

I did this with my trusty hot glue gun. I love this tool. I do not recommend it for everyone.

Rubber cement, white glue, or many other adhesives will work for this.

If doing this project with small children, the elderly or cognitively disabled, you might want to consider an alternative to the glue gun.

Lay all the pieces out before you start gluing them down. Things will look different. Further, you may encounter some spacial issues.

There needs to be space between each piece, just like there would be on a real mosaic tile where the grout would go.

Because of the space we have to allow between pieces, you will most likely have to make some adjustments in placement to get everything to fit.

Potential pitfall - Placement is it.

When doing this project with students over the years, almost always when something went wrong it was with this step because the student got excited. He or she skipped the marking where the pieces would go and just went glue happy. Usually, they ended up with a few left over pieces.

On the flip side of that, sometimes, everything lays out great but there is too much negative space left because the backing is so much larger than the original image. No worries on this one. Clip needed pieces from a duplicate image to fill in the gaps on the edges.

Source

Safety tip -

If doing this project with students, minors, those in recovery, the elderly or infirm, people with respiratory problems, or those with cognitive disabilities, use markers that do not emit odors that can be huffed or cause physical damage if inhaled.

It may sound a bit over protective, but better safe than sorry. If you are doing this with a large group of any of the populations mentioned above, chances are very high you can't keep your eyes on everyone at one time.

God only gave you two eyes. Use safer markers, such as Crayola brand, if the above mentioned is the case.

Step five gives an indication of what the finished piece will look like.

Once all the pieces are glued down as you want them, it looks pretty ugly. All the edging on the pieces cut shows funky cardboard colors and bits sticking up. Yuck.

Not to worry. Grab a Sharpie. Any permanent marker will work for this. I used black because I wanted my faux grout to be black and I like things to match.

Whatever color you are going to make your fake grout, use that color marker. I would like to say you don't have to but chances are high your project will suffer otherwise.

The reason for this is that we are about to be using a huge quantity of glue mixed with paint that will get on the edges. If the marker is a different color and gets the paint/glue mix on it, it's going to look bad.

Go around all the edges and color in the showing cardboard. I also made a perimeter edge line around each cut piece. It's an optional step but helps hide mistakes later, if you get the color on the edge a bit too far.

The glue shrinks a tad as it dries.  Build layer upon layer until you get it just under the height of the cut pieces.
The glue shrinks a tad as it dries. Build layer upon layer until you get it just under the height of the cut pieces. | Source

This takes forever.

Seriously, you are looking at some long dry time here. If doing this with classes or groups, plan on letting it dry overnight after this step is completed.

Be sure to inform your group in advance that this project will take overnight to dry. People can get very disappointed if they expect to have a finished project by the end of class or group and that is not the case.

Here comes the messy step in making a faux mosaic tile.

Mix a lot of glue and paint of the color you used for the base coat. Be sure when you do this that you mix enough the first time around, if you are doing a custom color.

The size of your base will largely determine how much you need to mix. I used about a third of a cup of glue and several liberal squirts of paint.

Mix the paint and glue really well until such time as you see no streaks of any pure color. Then, mix some more being sure to hit the bottom of the container where I promise you some is lurking.

Fill in between the pieces with the mixture. Painting is not exactly what's required here, more like dabbing on big drops. If you just paint, it will take forever for you to build up the height of the product required.

Don't worry over getting any on the edges. Just wipe it off with your finger. We are going around each edge at the end with a marker again to fix any little boo boos, so it's all good.

After filling in all the grout line areas and the edges, it looks like this.

It looks pretty nasty right about now.  Don't worry.  It will look great when it dries.
It looks pretty nasty right about now. Don't worry. It will look great when it dries. | Source

The next day, when it's all good and dry, let's finish it off.

Grab the same marker color you used the first time and go around all the edges one more time to cover any little mistakes. Sprinkle on a little glitter and apply a final coat of Mod Podge.

Be sure to use only glue that dries clear for this step or it will ruin the project. As soon as it's dry, you have one finished faux mosaic tile piece.

Want to be able to hang it?

It's so easy to create a hanger. Let's do one.

Coaster cut out for the hanger.

Source

To make the tile's hanger, grab another coaster.

If you used something thinner for your original image, you need to add some cardboard or wood to the back of the one you will be using for this step.

Use the same color maker as used before to mark out the part of the coaster you want to be your hanger.

You could just use one whole. It would be much easier and faster but it's up to you.

Cut out the coaster. Color all the edges with the marker so no ugly cardboard shows.

The hanger and the mistake. I'm so glad it's on the back.

Everyone makes mistakes.  It's just part of life.  Fix it and move on.
Everyone makes mistakes. It's just part of life. Fix it and move on. | Source

The hanger and tile connected.

Source

How to connect the hanger to the faux mosaic tile.

Simple is the word here.

To make the hanger have the same round line at the bottom as the circular tile like I did, just lay the tile over it and trace the curve as your guideline for the bottom cut.

Flip the cut coaster hanger over. Cut a piece of strong ribbon the length of the hanger plus the tile plus two inches.

At the top, cut the ribbon in thirds to make an interior strip for the ring. As you can see in the picture, I forgot to do this. I had to peel up the ribbon and redo to fix it. I know better and still missed it.

Thread the middle strip of ribbon through the ring and glue it down to the back of the hanger.

Glue the ribbon to the back of the hanger and down the middle of the tile paying careful attention to how you line things up.

I used a lot of hot glue for this. A good alternative for kids or other groups that may have issues with a glue gun would be to just staple the ribbon to the back of the plaque.

Avoid using white glue for this step. It won't hold. There's just too much weight.

Give the entire assemblage one final coat of sealant and you are done!

Yahoo and happy day for you! I love it when a project is completed. There is great joy in making something.

Our ancestors did it all the time. Humans instinctively want to produce. Crafting is a great way to fulfill that innate desire, get something cool at a price you can afford and get back in touch with our inner creativity so stifled by modern life. Have some fun using your hands and come out with something totally unique, just like yourself.

One DIY fake mosaic tile on a shoestring budget that anyone can make.

Source

What to use in a nutshell.

Materials
Alternative
Alternative
Wood base plaque
Heavy cardboard
Old mirror
Paint
Ink
Stain
Mod Podge
Elmer's glue
DIY white glue
Coasters
Harry Potter trading cards
Old calendar pictures
Ribbon
Rope
Chain
Forget the shopping. Get creative with what's already hanging around.

Would you like to see another cool mosaic look made without real tiles? Check out the most awesome thing made by Heidi Borchers and uploaded by iLoveToCreate.

© 2014 Rhonda Lytle

Please, share your crafty thoughts. I'd love to hear from you.

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    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Craftypicks - Thank you very much for the tips on the outdoor casting. I would have thought all product roughly the same. I saw a youtube video where someone made theirs out of clay, straw and concrete or cement powder and water. I find the whole idea of being able to make something so strong and pretty at the same time fascinating, very appealing.

      Don't you hate that when things just don't translate into pictures? It looks awesome as is. I would love to be able to see it in all its sparkle and splendor. You could sell those like hotcakes in Jan at craft fairs.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 3 years ago from Las Vegas

      I make them for outside all the time. It's not that hard and they sell the molds in most larger craft stores.The key is to get cement you like. I don't like how they come out when I used the chunky variety of concrete so I use pure cement that can be used for pouring and molds. They sell it at home depot in boxes. I haven't found it in the big bag. There will be a picture on it saying it's good for pouring. I put a layer in and then some sort of sticks in between to give it strength. Make sure you understand the difference between concrete and cement. I didn't and wasted a lot of money.

      The glue stick house came out much better in person too. All the foggy white in the photo is diamond dust that wouldn't photograph well for me. The whole thing is sparkly. I have already had my friends asking me for one.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Craftypicks - :) Thank you. It was fun but now I think I want to try a real one with concrete for outside. I have to find or build a mold but I think it's pretty easy after that. God bless you and may all your crafts be cool. Speaking of, that glue stick Christmas cottage house was the bomb! Seriuosly, I was floored.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 3 years ago from Las Vegas

      This is seriously adorable.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ smine27 - Thank you so much! Having seen your recipe articles, it means all the more. The food you make looks like art. God bless and most happy projects whatever kind they may be :).

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I absolutely love your creativity. Love this.

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      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      Rhonda! To your health as well. ;)

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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ julieannbrady - Cheers!

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      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      Ah, Rhonda! That saying about the creme! I'll drink to THAT!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ julieannbrady - So right there with you. Hang in there, girl. The creme always rises to the top eventually ;).

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      Rhonda, thank you too -- my life feels like a faux mosaic tile -- little pieces of this and that being woven together to make something new of something old, and so on. ;)

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ SheGetsCreative - Thank you. Blessings and may you have a ton of fun with all your projects.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Love repurposed crafts! Good job

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Pawpawwrites - You could! This is so, so simple. There's nothing to it but to do it. Thanks bunches for the time, I know how busy everyone is right now. God bless.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      I'm not very craft, but this almost looks like something I could accomplish.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Julieannbrady - Thank you so much for your time and nice comment. I know you must be swamped by all the shake ups and change ups that has been online writing lately. God bless you and best of luck in all of your projects.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      A very interesting and crafty project. I had never heard of fake grout or using a color-matching sharpie. You have provided a very detailed, step-by-step process that anybody could follow. Nicely presented!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Billybuc - Great to see you. Thanks bunches for the file. I hope to give you some goodies for it in the near future. I have about 50 or so about to come over here in the crafty zone.

      This was actually a cheat. I was doing a more my typical "firebrand" self piece under my poetvix name and got depressed. So, I did this to chill and have some fun before diving back into the state of the nation. I hope have that piece done soon. It's bumming me out.

      Thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement. You are for real what's best about this place. God love you!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ BrianRS - Hi. Thanks for saying. I love doing crafts that can actually be used for pennies because most of my former students were dirt poor. These were things they could do to actually have something to hang on their walls other than graffiti :). God bless and may all your projects work out right!

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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Jackie Lynnley - Thank you so much. It really is easy. I hope you have fun and happy crafting no matter what projects you do. God bless!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Elsie Hagley - Thank you so much. My poor hubby has so many projects going. Now that he got the deck done, it's on to chicken coops, bunny pens, a goat pen, greenhouse and office. Poor guy. God love him and God bless you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You now have your own file in my system for crafty, handy dandy projects. Thanks for the information my friend.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 3 years ago from France

      That's a pretty comprehensive set of instructions for creating your mosaic effect. Well done and a nice idea for some affordable decorative art.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Oh I just love this and you make it look so easy. Will bookmark this for sure! ^+

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Really nice hub, you have done a great job showing how it is done. It looks very appealing and I'm sure when your husband finds time to finish what you require, it will look very nice in your office.