My Mosaic Wall-Beginnings

Welcome back! I should say I’m glad to be back, blogging again. As I posted some (long) time ago, I add posts to my Rebounddogs.com blog here and there, but apart from that have been somewhat living in a creative vacuum. I was really enjoying the peace, not being manic and creative. But alas, I couldn’t contain it forever so in September 2019 I reached my limit of not expressing myself and shifted to “art.” That word is in quotes because it’s not perfect, but it’s been a lot of fun.

The burst of art creativity started when I wanted to paint a living room wall. I saw an ad on Pinterest for a special paint (though I can’t recall now what it was). I searched three hardware stores and online and couldn’t find the (now discontinued) paint. In desperation I searched “wall ideas” on Pinterest. What I stumbled upon instead were posts about how to dress up concrete walls. I was intrigued as I had some UGLY concrete walls, fifty feet of them in the back, and both sides of my yard. Gray, concrete, prison type walls. But there was the magic word,  a solution to a problem I didn’t know until then that I even had. Mosaic. The word excited me.

Mosaic. Years ago I had taken a stained glass class so I knew how to cut glass. My second husband was a tiler and we’d worked on some house projects together so I had the general idea down. And two years ago, with the help of friends and my boyfriend we retiled the kitchen. Once I’d made a large mosaic (on plywood that was too heavy to hang and ended up at the Salvation Army when I moved) to match what a character did in one of my novels (Missing). I suddenly wondered how it was possible I’d never thought to cover the outside walls with mosaic before. It was a brilliant idea!

I went to Home Depot and bought two products which I’ve used each time I’ve tiled since. There are other things you can use, like cheaper grout you need to mix. But for convenience, and since I’m doing small projects at a time, these are my go to favorites.  The Adhesive & Grout mix doesn’t come in big buckets, at least in my Home Depot, but it’s got a nice elastic feel to it. Regular grout can be sandy and grainy. I also bought some floor tile, the kind that looks like wood.IMG_20200616_120114

Next I went to the Dollar Tree and bought some cheap dishes. I went outside, covered them with a towel, and BANG BANG BANG. Before I knew it had lots of material.

This is the first entry about the wall and am not going to repeat all of this each time but bear with me.

firsttree

I smeared the Acrylpro Professional Tile Adhesive on the wall, a section about a foot long. I wore a rubber glove and carefully added the pieces of the tree truck first. Next I added the light green tile (the only color green Dollar Tree had at the time). I had some colored glass pieces from the craft store (in my garage from another project) so added those in as well. I must say I was pretty impressed with how it all looked.

But then day two happened. I excitedly smeared a whole lot of Simple Fix Pre-mixed adhesive and grout. I covered the whole tree trunk section all at once.

Lessons learned:

  • For one, September in Southern California is hot. I also hadn’t tiled in a long time and forgot how quickly grout dries in the sun. Actually I’d never tiled outside so should have given that some thought.
  • White grout on light green “leaves” would make it look more like a cotton puff.
  • Floor tile that looks like wood is crazy porous and sucks wet grout deep into the grooves.
  • You need a sponge and a bucket of water to immediately wipe off the grout as you go. Not baby wipes. How did I forget that?
  • When you grout, gloves are cumbersome. If you take the gloves off and wipe grout over jagged broken dishes you can cut your fingers, even if you’re careful.
  • A wire brush and hot water will get dried grout off tile and when it doesn’t, you have to sit in the really hot sun with a razor blade.
  • Those little glass beads were coated so when I scrubbed them with a wire brush some of the coating went away.firsttree2

I am happy to report that though my first item on the wall was a little bit of a disaster, I got better as time went on. I’m writing this in July, ten months from that first tree. I hope you will join in on my journey from blank wall to a permanent happy place in my yard.

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