Silva has a technical background and is self-taught in the art of mixed media and mosaic. Her works are scattered all over the world.
Mosaic Garden Stones: A Step-by-Step Guide
I am having fun with my newest mosaic project, garden stones. These are decorative flat stones with a colorful mosaic design. Here's how to mosaic a beautiful, permanent, weather-proof garden stone to tuck in your flower bed.
1. Find a Stone
First, I look for a small flat stone. These I have pictured are between 6 and 10 inches across. I found some of them scattered nearby (we live in an area of limestone rock). A garden center gave several of them to me. Then a couple of them are natural stone tile or granite tile. I nipped the straight edges to make them look more natural.
It's also possible to mosaic on round stones, but for this article, I will concentrate on the small flat stones I have pictured.
2. Select a Subject and Material
Next, I select the subject and the material for the mosaic. Stained glass is perfect for this project and I have shown several of these.
My favorite material happens to be porcelain china, nipped to show the designs to the best advantage. To create dragonflies and butterflies, using the designs from the rims of china plates and saucers is much more challenging than using stained glass.
I like to use the mosaic on mesh method for these projects. The mesh is not necessary, but it makes the project easier and more flexible. Using the mesh makes it possible to glue the design down and grout it all at once. At the end of this article, there is a link to another that explains how to mosaic on mesh.
3. Select the Design
You can find patterns using Google Images and print them out; I like to save them to Word and then adjust the image size. You can draw your own design, or you might find pictures in books and magazines. According to the instructions in the link below about how to mosaic on mesh, on a flat surface, tape down layers of, first: your paper design, second: a square from a clear baggie, and third: a piece of mesh.
4. Proceed to Create Your Mosaic
I like to smooth all the edges of my mosaics to make them more friendly. I use a kitchen sharpening tool to do this; the pieces can also be tumbled or they can be smoothed with a glass grinder.
I use jewelry—usually glass beads—to make dragonfly and butterfly bodies and antennae. Use either thread or flexible wire to hold the beads together before you glue them down.
5. Glue the Pieces
I glue the pieces (tesserae) to the mesh using dabs of MAC glue, making sure that each piece has dabs of glue on it, yet leaving portions unglued so that when you adhere the mosaic to the stone, there are areas allowing the two materials to be glued together.
When the glue has dried, rip your mesh design up and away from the baggie. With sharp scissors, closely trim away the mesh from the edges of your mosaic.
You can end up with one piece consisting of the entire design, or you can cut it into sections. Cutting it into sections sometimes allows a more graceful positioning of the wings of a butterfly, for example.
6. Mix the Mortar and Apply the Mosaic to the Stone
Now, mix up a small amount of mortar. I collect jar lids such as the plastic lids from Jif peanut butter and use these to mix the mortar and then throw them away afterward.
There are two different methods for applying the mosaic to the stone and I will describe both.
- One way is to butter the back of your mosaic with mortar. Make sure each piece has a dab. Apply your mosaic to the stone, pressing down each piece individually. Then tape off around the outside of the mosaic. Next, liberally spread mortar over the mosaic (just as you would grout). Wipe off (gently, without disturbing the position of the mosaic). Lift the tape away and do the final cleanup.
- A second way is to lay the mosaic onto the stone and tape around it. Lift the mosaic up and set aside. Spread the mortar into the area which is outlined with the tape. Then press the mosaic into the mortar. Apply more mortar over the mosaic, wipe off, lift the tape away, and do the final cleanup.
Caution about using mortar as grout—it dries much faster and needs to be cleaned off the tesserae right away. You cannot wait until later to polish off the haze as you would if you used ordinary grout. You must do a thorough cleanup immediately because once the mortar sets up, it is permanent.
Another caution about using mortar as grout—after you grout, cover the leftover mortar and save it for a while, especially if you have colored it since it's difficult to match the color if you need to mix more. I'm not sure why, but mortar is more prone than grout to develop little holes as it settles and dries. You are going to want to patch these.
So grout, clean up, set your piece aside, and go back and check it in about 10 or 15 minutes to see if it has these unsightly little air holes and pockets that need to be dealt with.
7. Spray With Grout Sealer
I wait 24 hours and then I spray the entire stone with a grout sealer that is for both indoor and outdoor use. This may not be necessary since we're not using grout here, but it makes me feel more comfortable since these are for outdoor use. The edges of china are porous, and I feel that the sealer may extend the life of these mosaics. Currently, I am using DuPont grout sealer for indoor and outdoor use.
You can pour some sealer into a small container and apply it with a brush, but I like to spray it on. I pour some of the sealer into a small spray bottle. I take the garden stone outside and liberally spray the entire surface of the stone. I then wipe off the mosaic and polish it clean. I pour the remaining sealer back into the bottle and rinse the spray bottle well. This method is more thorough and more economical.
8. Display Your Stones
I envision these stones scattered randomly in flower beds, adding charm and whimsey to your landscape. So far, I have made butterflies and dragonflies and now intend to experiment with spirals and other designs and perhaps an iridescent beetle or a fat bumblebee.
Here is another mosaic-related article.
Melon27 on November 07, 2016:
I am having a really hard time finding rocks or stones the right size for these. They are beautiful and my Church Ladies would love them. Any ideas?
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on July 30, 2014:
tebo, thanks for the visit. I share your interest in vegetarian recipes and psychic phenomena and will read more of your hubs.
Sue, I'm glad you found my site and Hubpages. I'm not currently on CMA but would like to be.
Sue Betanzos on July 30, 2014:
Silva, I'm so glad I found your site and HubPages. I want to do a mosaic on slate and figured I would do it with the front mount tape. I have worked with the mesh mount from the site you listed and it's one of the better products of tile tape.
Found you thru Pintrest. Are you on CMA community mosaic site? Thank you for sharing your knowledge. There are some artists who do not freely share information. If there is any info I can share with you, let me know!
tebo from New Zealand on July 27, 2014:
These are really lovely. Beautiful photos with lots of possibilities. By the way thanks for the follow. I shall check out some more of your hubs as there are quite a few interesting ones there for me.
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on March 02, 2014:
This will be a fun project! These stones really brighten up the landscape.
kerlund74 from Sweden on March 02, 2014:
I love this, thank you for sharing:) I will try to do this with my children to decorate my garden this spring!
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on August 21, 2013:
Thanks for the visit and comment, Glimmer Twin Fan. These are fun to make.
Claudia Mitchell on August 21, 2013:
This is really cool and different from an all over mosaic. Gonna have to try this with my daughter. Pinned.
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on July 23, 2013:
Thank you for your input, Mike!
Mike Robbers from London on July 23, 2013:
Great hub and such a wonderful idea! Your how to guide is very helpful and easy to follow.
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on July 22, 2013:
Thanks, Jackie. I am having lots of fun with these. The broken plate is my favorite type of mosaic.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 22, 2013:
Wow those are nice. I love the broken plate. ^
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on July 21, 2013:
Thank you for stopping by, pstraubie48.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 21, 2013:
My niece would love these. She is a huge fan of dragonflies and has them in all shapes, sizes, and media. I will have to share this with her. How clever. Shared Angels are on the way ps
Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on July 21, 2013:
I'm happy you came by! Using the mortar for both adhesive and grout sure speeds up the process. Have fun with it!
Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on July 21, 2013:
I am so happy I found your hub. I am excited and never thought about placing them on stones. I have made stepping stones for my mom this year. I plan to make a few of these for her. Love the new concrete crafting!