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It is best to make all your mosaic pieces first by breaking the crockery into suitably sized fragments. Check that you have enough to cover the area, keeping each colour in a separate pile.
Break each plate or saucer by placing it face down on a flat surface, covering it with a cloth to prevent broken crockery from flying about, and then applying a sharp tap to the centre with a mallet or the flat end of a hammer. This will normally give you several large pieces, each of which must be broken down in the same way.
The size of the eventual pieces will depend on the curvature of the crockery because each pieces must be as flat as possible. This, the flat base of a plate can provide some fairly large pieces; the curved rim must be broken into small fragments in order to eliminate most of the curvature (these small pieces are useful for 'filling in'). Some plates are surprisingly thick in places - too thick to be sued in a flat mosaic - and these chunky pieces can be discarded
You need a thick adhesive to cope with the irregular bulkiness and shape of the crockery pieces. Ceramic tile adhesive is ideal and enables you to build up a thick layer of adhesive underneath particularly thin pieces of crockery, so keeping the surface of the mosaic fairly level.
You can use either builder's cement or ceramic tile grout to fill in the spaces between the mosaic pieces. Tile grout provides a smooth finish which contrasts well with the jagged appearance of the broken crockery. It is available in a range of colours and white, or you can make your own colours by adding artist's acrylic paint or universal stainers to the grout. For outdoors, cement or a sand and cement mixture gives a rugged, weathered look to the mosaic.
You will need a mallet or hammer for breaking the crockery, pincers for shaping the mosaic pieces, a small trowel for mixing cement and an adhesive spreader for spreading the adhesive and the grout
Crockery mosaic is best suited to fairly free, abstract designs. You will discover as you work that you cannot know in advance exactly what area it is possible to cover with the available quantity of a particular pattern or colour. This makes it difficult to plan a design beforehand. It is far better - and more fun - to choose a free, flexible and continuous design which you can make up as you go.
Setting the mosaic
1. Apply a small area of adhesive at a time - approximately as much as you think you will need for one area of colour or pattern. Tile adhesive dries fairly quickly, so scrape off all surplus adhesive before leaving the work for any length of time.
2. If necessary, use pincers to create a particular shape or to break off awkward protrusions. Press the crockery pieces into place, keeping the spacing between the pieces as regular as possible. Wipe off excess glue with a cloth before it dries.
3. When the adhesive is completely dry, apply the grout with an adhesive spreader across a small area at a time. Make sure the grout is pushed well down into the spaces between each mosaic piece using a cloth or sponge. Remove excess grout with a damp cloth.
4. Clean and buff to finish.
'Project submitted by Kimberley Merchant from Kimberley's Crafts'
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