Photo by Melody

Making Mosaic Garden Accents - part 1

By Diana Wind (windJuly 19, 2013
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Mosaic garden accents glisten in the sun, reflecting cut glass, mirror, shiny stones, stamped letters in the concrete and hand-picked treasures. This how-to-make-mosaics article gives you step-by-step photos and instructions on making mosaic stepping stones. Garden mosaics make beautiful, long-lasting keepsakes for your home and garden.

Gardening pictureEver since making my first mosaic coaster as a child, I've loved mosaics. Mosaic projects are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of art that are great fun to create alone or with any age group as a garden project. From a mosaic planter pot to a mosaic bird bath, broken chards, tile pieces, stones, glass beads, shells, bottle caps - you name it - can be added to fresh mixed concrete or grouted onto existing concrete to transform it into a work of art.

In this article I'll show you how easy it is to mix concrete and press in objects to make a mosaic design. In Part 2, I'll show you how to make a mosaic pattern on existing concrete pieces. DG members HollyAnnS and Ric_of_MAF recently made beautiful planters from concrete pipe.

  Mosaic Pots
  Mosaic Stepping Stones
  Mosaic Pet Memorials
  Mosaic Bird Baths
  Mosaic Garden ideas are endless!

Mosaic stepping stones are a great introduction to mosaics in the garden. My favorite mosaic stepping stones were created by my niece and nephew when they were just 2 and 5 years old.

Speaking of children, if you plan on having some fun doing mosaics with kids, an adult should mix the concrete. Cement powder can irritate skin on prolonged contact and hand washing immediately after use is recommended.

Plastic Pot Bottoms make good MoldsMOLDSMixing Concrete for a Mosaic Stepping Stone CONCRETE

Making a Mosaic Stepping Stone

MOSAIC OBJECTS

Select a sturdy, waterproof form mold. Reusable plastic molds are available at craft stores or online.

Molds come in all sizes and shapes - round, octagon, heart, square - and are usually smooth on the bottom.

You can be creative and use any plastic that you think will hold concrete. I used plastic pot bottoms for the stepping stones shown here.

If you use plastic pot saucers, note that whatever imprint is on the bottom of your pot saucer will imprint onto the bottom of your stone! Just beware of deep ridges, which may make it more difficult to unmold - the concrete grips onto the pattern ridges. I had no problem with the smaller saucer mold. The larger saucer took an extra day to dry and was more difficult to unmold.
 

Stepping Stone Concrete Mix can be purchased at your local crafts store or any home improvement store.

Adults should carefully mix the concrete outdoors in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in any concrete dust. A dust mask may be protective.

Clean the molds, dry and lightly spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Mix the amount of concrete you plan to use: follow the directions on the package. I add water a little at a time until the mix becomes thick and spreadable smooth texture. Then it is ready to pour into prepared molds.


       ~ Kids love this part ~

Hand prints, foot prints and any durable items can be used to decorate your stone.

Most anything goes: rocks, pebbles, seashells, old buttons, cut glass, etc.

You can find a nice variety of mosaic items at craft stores too, including glass gems, ceramic shapes and polished glass stones.

The best advice is to use items that you think could withstand years of outdoor weather. Delicate broken china pieces are better for indoor or protected mosaic pieces such as mirrors, coasters, pots, picture frames, vintage watering cans, plant stands and table tops.

   
Mosaic Stepping Stones

What you need to get started to make two, 9-inch (22.8 cm) stepping stones OR one 12-inch and one 6-inch stone.

Supplies and Tools

  • bucket to mix the concrete
  • Water pitcher
  • stirrer (I used a wooden paint stirrer)
  • Selection of mosaic tiles, glass beads, stones etc. that you plan to use
  • 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) of concrete mix
  • concrete molds or plastic pot saucers
  • stone stamps with alphabet or garden designs - optional
  • wooden toothpick or skewer to write - optional

If you plan to break your own tile you will need:

  • hammer
  • tile nipper - optional
  • tile scorer - optional

Step 1- Get all your supplies together before you mix the concrete. Think of the place you will let your stone dry. It should be out of the way and on a level surface. To avoid cracking, your stone should not be moved for 48 hours after it is completed.

Step 2- Mix the concrete following the directions on the package. Add water slowly and mix to a thick, not soupy, spreadable texture. If children are involved, an adult should mix the concrete. After mixing the concrete, rinse off all tools outside to avoid clogging sink drains.

Step 3- Spray clean molds with a non-stick vegetable spray and pour the concrete into your mold. Smooth the surface with a putty knife or spatula.Mosaic Stone on Metal Plant Stand

Step 4 - Start adding your stones and design elements. Be sure to press them in firmly because if they are not in halfway or so, they can easily fall out after the concrete dries.

Wait to do any stamping, writing, or imprints until the mixture is firm enough to hold the shape; otherwise the impressions will fill in with water like beach sand. If that happens, no worries, just smooth it out and wait to try again. The amount of time will vary; you have to be the judge. If you get impatient, you can gently blot excess water that rises to the surface with a papertowel.

Step 5 - When you are finished decorating your stepping stone, let it rest undisturbed for 48 hours or longer. If you want, you could give it a spray mist with water a few times during the day as it cures. Don't rush the drying process or you risk cracking your piece. A 12-inch stone may take 3 days, whereas a 6-inch stone should easily unmold after 48 hours.

Once unmolded, it is up to you to determine if you want to actually step on your "stepping stone". I've always liked them so much, I rarely actually step on them. You could display your mosaic creation directly on the ground, or for added support, on top of a flat paver stone. Or, you could jazz up the top of a plain metal plant stand, as I did in the photo shown.

Have fun! Please share pictures of your creations.


Photos Copyright ©2013 Wind. All rights reserved.

Related Links

For more mosaic ideas, check out mosaics by DG member Jamibad and others on Dave's Garden Discussion Forum:

Crafts: Mosaics and Stained Glass

Related Dave's Garden Article

Making a Mosaic Border by Amber Royer


  About Diana Wind  
Diana WindDiana is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion for gardening and sustainable foods. She is a graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Food from the garden fuels her enthusiasm for eating right and nutritional science. She especially loves gardening as part of a healthy lifestyle. Gardening engages us with nature, gives us health benefits from exercise, and rewards us with fresh, nutritious foods. To assess your food and garden activity level, visit choosemyplate.gov or her blog. You can also follow Diana on Google.

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Discussion about this article:
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Good memories Cville_Gardener 4 30 Jul 25, 2013 4:03 AM
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