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Originally published Saturday, September 3, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Step-by-step mosaic

A mosaic is a picture or design made by placing small colored pieces into a surface. The pieces can be simple or fancy. Just about anything will...

A mosaic is a picture or design made by placing small colored pieces into a surface.

The pieces can be simple or fancy. Just about anything will work — forgotten junk in drawers, old costume jewelry, broken ceramic cups and dishes, wood, glass, metal, tile, old Hot Wheels cars.

Bedrock Industries sells bin after bin of mosaic materials, including tumbled and mosaic glasses, ceramic and tile, metal objects, rocks and pebbles.

Here's how to make a basic mosaic in two days:

Day 1

• Start by collecting small pieces and the item (a mirror, frame and so on) you will mosaic onto. Have a design in mind or get inspired as you go.

• To make the mirror project pictured, we set pebbles, glass tiles and ceramic bits onto a three-quarter-inch medium-density fiberboard (MDF) board.

• We cut the board a few inches larger than the mirror, then painted it with a white primer.

• There are two ways to mosaic: Use a direct grout set method, or use an adhesive and grout over the top. We did the latter.

• We adhered the pieces to the board using a white thinset mortar used to set ceramic tile. Thinset is dry, powdery stuff that turns into a sticky toothpaste adhesive when mixed with water.

• Make sure your mosaic items are clean and ready to apply.

• Mix the thinset per directions and, using a notched trowel, apply a workable amount to the board.

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• Begin applying your items. Press them fully into the thinset and clean up any excess before it dries. Make sure your thinset stays soft and workable as you are setting your items.

• Mixing smaller amounts of thinset at a time can assure a fresh batch with good adhesion.

• After you've set all your pieces, take a break. It will take about a day for the thinset to fully cure.

Day 2

• The grouting is the final step. Sanded grout is available in many different colors, and Bedrock sells colored sands to customize grout even more.

• Start by cleaning your mosaic items again till they really shine.

• Mix grout to a thick paste consistency. For uneven surfaces, apply the grout by hand, wearing rubber gloves. Press grout into all the voids between your items, using a damp sponge to expose your work.

• Keep working grout into your surface with your fingers and the sponge until the design is fully exposed.

• Finally, apply a grout sealer and your fabulous one-of-a-kind mosaic is done.

Source: Chris Munford, architectural tile manager at Bedrock Industries

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