Words and Pictures: Elke Losskarn
It’s so easy and the most fun comes from knowing that there are no limits – any small pieces will do, such as coloured glass, bathroom tiles, mirror, pebbles, gem stones or broken pottery. Even better is that you don’t need any electricity for this project, so during load-shedding, just relax and get creative.
Tip: Remember, when choosing the colours for your house number, to have a good contrast between the digits and the background.
COST: about R350 (including mosaic glass cutter)
DIFFICULTY: 2 out of 5
TIME: day one: 6-8 hours, day two: 1 hour
- 30cm x 30cm tile (the bigger your entrance, the bigger the tile)
- 300mm x 300mm sheet of 23mm dark blue crystal glass tiles
- 300mm x 300mm sheet of 23mm beige crystal glass tiles
- 300mm x 300mm sheet of 18mm dark blue river glass tiles
- 300mm x 300mm sheet of 18mm beige river glass tiles
- small piece of mirror
- 8 dark-blue glass gems
- wheeled mosaic glass cutter
- a pair of scissors
- waterproof PVA glue
- small pack of mosaic grout
- rubber gloves
- dough scraper
- small plastic container (empty cottage-cheese or yoghurt
- tile adhesive to fix number to wall
Step 1: Design your house number. Choose the right text font. If you have a modern house go for a modern font, if you have a classic house choose a more classic type. The font I chose for this number 25 is Bernard MT Condensed. Enlarge the digits on your printer or at the copy shop so it fits on the big tile. Cut out the digits and place them on the tile, make sure you have enough space around the number and, if you are happy with the position, trace your number with a pencil or permanent marker.
Step 2: Cut your tiles into different shapes: halves, quarters and triangles by holding the mosaic tile firmly between your thumb and index finger. Place the wheels of the tile cutter where you want to cut the tile and clip. It is easier than you think.
Step 3: Imagine you are making a puzzle. Start with the border. Spread some glue directly onto the big tile and glue down your pre-cut mosaic pieces, leaving a matchstick-size gap between every tile (the space between the mosaic tiles will be filled later with grout). Place each piece on top of your adhesive as desired and push it into place. Add small pieces of cut mirror and glass gems here and there. Work in small areas at a time. This prevents your adhesive from drying out and allows you to take a break at any given time. Work section by section until you complete the house number and the background.
Step 4: Let your completed house number dry for 24 hours before grouting. There are different grout colours available: white, light grey, dark grey, black, ivory and beige. I used a dark grey for 25. You can compare colours by sprinkling a bit of dry grout on the tiles, rubbing in into the grooves and seeing the effect. Use a brush to clean the mosaic before you start with the grouting.
Step 5: Put grout in a disposable container (an empty yoghurt or cottage-cheese container) and slowly add water. Mix with a dough scraper until the mixture has the consistency of toothpaste or (smooth – not crunchy!) peanut butter.
Step 6: Test consistency by lifting the mixed grout with the dough scraper – the grout shouldn’t drip. If you accidentally add too much water, add more grout.
Step 7: Apply the grout mixture with the dough scraper to your mosaic number, spreading it in all directions to work the grout evenly into the grooves. Don’t forget the edges. It is basically like icing a cake. Wear plastic gloves when working with grout as it dries out your hands. When the mosaic number is covered with grout, wipe off as much of the excess as you can with the flat side of the dough scraper. Wait for 20 minutes.
Step 8: Fill a bucket with water. Wipe the mosaic with a slightly damp sponge (squeeze the sponge first). Clean the sponge with water every time before wiping the mosaic. Repeat until surface is clean. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Leave your mosaic in a dry place but not in direct sunlight.
Step 9: Once your mosaic is dry, take a brush and polish the grout cement haze off the tiles.
Step 10: You can fix the mosaic number with tile adhesive directly to your house wall. Should you have a facebrick wall (like in my case) pre-drill the holes for the screws into the big tile before you start the mosaic. Then screw the number to the face brick wall. You can cover the screws with a little bit of grout at the end. Now step back and admire your handiwork.
Mosaic Workshops and suppliers:
- Mosaic Workshops Hout Bay (workshops and commissions), 072 3721047, Facebook: Elke Losskarn Mosaics
- Pudlo, 93 Durham Avenue, Salt River, 021 448 0607, www.pudlo.co.za
- Mosaic Arts, 107 Siersteen Street, Silvertondale, 012 804 7392, www.mosaicarts.co.za
- Dish, 41 Sixth Street, Parkhurst, 011 447 1071, www.dishmosaic.co.za