Don’t break my heart

I have spent many hours planning large mosaic masterpieces.  I love the creative process of designing the initial idea, layouts and color choices, then cutting glass, breaking glass and finally placing the pieces strategically or randomly depending on the theme and then grouting to complete the perfect mosaic art project.  But sometimes I just need a quick fix.  That’s when I turn to my heart, my mosaic heart, that is. This project satisfies my desire to create but also my desire to have a quick finished project.

I purchase the wood heart shape at Michaels.  The heart is a sturdy solid wood about 1.5 inches thick.  The heart is about one foot wide and 10 inches long.  There’s no need to prep the wood.  Just start planning the design.  I’ve created random designed pieces, sketched designs, floral and nature designs and geometric designs.   As long as you have the wood, glass, glue, grout and an idea you can make this mosaic glass heart.

I usually start with a theme in mind.  Beginners will love the ease and speed of creating a small mosaic.  Novices will love the canvas as being small and easy so as to quickly create several small pieces that complement each other.  I have 13 mosaic hearts displayed on my kitchen wall.  Each one is a different design.  I love the eclectic look.  But the hearts could also have been all done in the same color and same design.  It’s the artist’s choice.

Choose your color scheme.  In the piece I have displayed here I focused initially on the design. I wanted to create a bright sun themed piece.  I gathered together all the yellow and orange glass that I had in my collection.  I chose two shades of orange and two shades of yellow.  I also selected tile and ceramic pieces in orange and yellow to use as accents in the piece. 

In order to create the yellow sun at the point of the heart I drew the shape on paper, placed it on the wood and traced it onto the wood heart.  I used the same piece of paper and placed it on the corner of the yellow glass and drew the shape with a black marker over the glass so that I knew where to cut the glass to create the semi-circle.  This shape could have been less rounded and instead broken to fit the space or small glass pieces could have been used to create the semi-circle, artist’s choice again.  In this case the yellow glass broke accidentally when I was using my tools to shape it.  I didn’t abandon the glass I decided to use the broken piece, incorporating it into my art.  That’s what is so great about mosaics, broken glass is perfect. 

Next I decided the width of my sunrays.  I used a paper template and drew the sunrays, then placed each template over the wood and drew lines to divide the heart from the rays of sunlight coming from the yellow center.  The yellow center glass was cut with ?tool, since a precise shape was sought.  The sunrays were randomly cut using several different tools.  I wanted the shapes to be different but to be about the same size.  Once I was satisfied with my shapes I began placing them within their sections drawn on the heart.  So the yellow glass and tiles were placed in the yellow ray and the orange was placed in the orange ray.  Take your time placing each piece where you want it to go.  Stay in the lines of each color ray.  Add the accent pieces wherever you think they add some pop to your design.  Separate the pieces so that they do not touch and allow for some space for the grout.  Here’s a tip:  try breaking the glass by placing it and the tools in a plastic Ziploc bag.  This will stop the glass shards from flying around the room.  My mother used to say glass is a “goniff”  that’s Yiddish for “a thief”, as glass will disperse and be difficult to find when it breaks. 

The hardest part is gluing, or at least it’s the dullest part.  Start with a craft glue such as Wellbond.  There are two ways to glue a small area or a small mosaic piece.  You could dab glue on each glass piece  with a popsicle stick and then place the piece on the wood one at a time.  Or you could use clear tape.  Here’s the technique I often use.  Tear off long pieces of tape and place each across the heart.  Each piece of tape must cover the length or width of the heart and must touch the piece of tape next to it.  Once the entire design is covered with tape, place your hand over the heart and turn it upside down.  The glass pieces will stick to the tape and not the heart.  Brush any small glass slivers off the wood heart and the taped glass heart as well.  Use a paintbrush and paint the glue onto the entire heart.  Quickly, before the glue starts to dry, pick up the taped glass heart and place it over the glue painted heart.  Match up the sides so that the glass does not hang over the sides of the heart.  Wait 5-8 minutes and then slowly remove the tape one piece at a time.  Careful to not let the tape lift the glass off the glue and the heart, if that happens then press the glass and tape back on the heart and wait for the glue to dry longer before removing. 

Now let your piece dry for several hours.  Time to grout.  I used black grout on my piece but you can also use a beige or white grout, again, artist’s choice.  I often find that the most important part of your mosaic is the choice of color grout.  It’s a tough decision to make.  I can probably do an entire blog article just on grout choice alone…. but that’s for another day.  Choose your grout color.  I prefer sanded grout as the sand granules have a nice effect.  Grout can be purchased at any hardware store or Michaels.  There are premixed grouts, but beware, they have adhesive within the grout and are often hard to clean off the glass after the grout has dried. 

Mix the grout with water slowly in a small container.  Be careful not to breathe the grout fumes while mixing.  The powder contains silica, a toxin that’s not good for your lungs.  So wear an N95 mask, and wash the mask after use.  Some say you need to wash your clothes too… but that’s your choice.  This project requires a very small amount of grout.  Add water slowly to get a consistency between watery and clay.  Never spill the leftover grout down the drain.  Dispose in a garbage or outdoors.  Grout is cement and can cause lots of trouble to your plumbing. 

Slowly run a handful of grout over your piece, making sure the spaces are covered with grout.  Allow the grout to dry for about an hour.  Using a damp craft sponge or paper towel clear off the grout from the glass.  Make sure that the grout remains in between the glass.  Do not use too much water to clean the grout off the heart.  Wait about 12 hours and then clean the grout with white vinegar to remove any grout film and to shine the glass pieces. 

Now add a picture hook on the back and hang it up.  You’ve made a beautiful one of a kind mosaic heart.  Don’t stop now, you’re on a roll………

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