February 14, 2017

Mosaicing With Kids: A How To with Tips & Safety

This post is all about making mosaics with kids, my 'how- to', tips & safety.
mosaicing with kids, kids craft, craft, tutorial, craft tutorial, DIY
I find mosaic a wonderful craft to do with kids as there's not a lot of skill needed to make a finished product that kids can be proud of, so once you have everything you need you can just jump in and get started. They're also using more specialised materials, things like tiles and grout, which adults use for proper adult jobs, so it can make them feel very clever indeed!
mosaic, art, garden art, art garden
For basic mosaic you don't need a lot of fancy equipment or supplies, and most can be found at the local hardware store. We buy a lot of our tiles online here in Australia from The Mosaic Store, but hardware stores sometimes have craft sections with tiles, then there's other craft stores, $2 shops, and actual tile shops that usually sell the lovely glass tesserae.
Craft supplies, mosaic supplies
Some beautiful millefiori stars from The Mosaic Store
glass pebbles from the garden section of our local hardware store

The tesserae is probably the easiest to start with as it's easy to cut with a pair of tile nippers; and smaller decorative tiles that don't need to be cut.

Supplies needed:

- Various tiles
- Terracotta plant base
- Outdoor PVA glue
- Outdoor tile adhesive
- Outdoor grout in your choice of colour

Tools & other items:

- Tile nippers
- Homemade plastic scrapers cut from empty containers
- Rags
- Soft scrubbing brush
- Latex gloves (grown up size and kid size)
- Eye protection (for when you're nipping tiles)
- Paintbrush for brushing on PVA
Mosaic Tools, mosaic tiles
Tile nippers, glass tesserae, other smaller mosaic tiles, plastic scrapers

Safety tip: Make sure kids are wearing shoes as little shards of tile can be sharp!

Starting out with something like a terracotta plant base is fantastic. The surface is flat so you won't have tiles trying to glue against gravity, and the edge provides a physical border to keep their tiles within a neat shape.

We coat our terracotta pieces first with outdoor PVA wood glue and leave to dry.

Then, we use an outdoor tile adhesive. The one I have is cement based. As long as you get an outdoor tile adhesive you should be fine. I like to mix this away from kids as I don't want them breathing in any cement dust. I just use an old plastic container and the wrong end of a flat paint brush to mix. Once the adhesive is mixed it's not an inhalation risk anymore. Spread a layer of adhesive down for them around 2-3mm thick (1/16").
colorful, colourful, craft, kids craft, kids creating, mosaic tiles, mosaic craft
We keep our tiles organised by colour

I nip tesserae into smaller pieces, and then they just use some of the smaller shaped tiles as they are. You nip by placing the nips at the edge of a tile while holding the tile with your other hand. Press down and it will break into two. Some tiles break nice and evenly, others may not. Practise with a few. Wear your eye protection and do this away from kids so that little bits of broken tile don't fly towards them.
They can then glue their tiles onto their terracotta base. I have found some kid sized latex gloves in our local supermarket which have been perfect for protecting little hands from the adhesive. Try and get them not to butt tiles hard against one another so remind them to leave a little gap. I always explain to kids that making mosaics is kind of like doing a puzzle; you just find where a piece seems to fit and place it in. Another thing is we don't stack tiles on top of each other. This may seem obvious but to a kids fresh mind, it's not! I love their boundless ideas. Try also to get them to not leave big open spaces. Again, I'm not too concerned, but for the longevity of the piece, it's best not to leave big gaps between tiles.

- leave a little gap
- don't butt tiles hard against one another,
- place tiles side by side, not on top of each other.
Kids also sometimes get the right and wrong side of the tesserae mixed up. The bumpy side is the wrong side, the smooth side is the right side. Have a chat to them first and explain and show them this. You may have to keep reminding them! Some will still keep mixing them up, but it doesn't matter too much.
Smooth side is the right side!
When they are happy with their arrangement it's time to leave it to dry for as long as the adhesive's instructions.

*Sometimes kids get a bit messy with the adhesive. It helps to go back when the adhesive is dry but not rock-hard and scrape a bit of the excess adhesive off the top of some tiles and between them if there's too much.
Scraping some excess adhesive away with a piece of tile (a nail could also work)

Then, we grout! Again, I mix it up to the consistency of thick cream away from kids so they don't breathe the dust. Then we use little homemade plastic scrapers (cut from plastic containers) to spread the grout on. This part is messy and therefore fun!

Plop it on and scrape it all around to make sure you fill all the gaps between the tiles. Wear gloves for this bit.

Once it's done and it looks like it's starting to dry off a bit you can take a soft scrubbing brush and start to scrape the excess grout off the front of the tiles. (We also have a stiff paintbrush here that did the job on a previous project too.)

Then use a dry cloth to polish. If there's any staining on the sides of the dish that you don't want, wipe that away with a wet cloth.
And then you're done! Let it dry before you put into the great outdoors.

It's so satisfying creating something that will last and pretties up the garden.
Proud creators
In situ :)

And once you've mastered the basic skills you could progress onto other items such as plant pots or picture frames.
Miss S with her mosaic plant pot

I hope you enjoyed the mosaic how-to & tips from me. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will get back to you, and be sure to let me know if you try mosaicing with kids!

Jules :)


Unknown said...

These are amazing to do with kids! I totally love your smaller mosaic tiles collection.. I hope I can get them in my place too.. :)

Ryan Maryland said...

I do hope I could do these with my niece and nephew. This would totally spark the artist inside. Thanks!

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