Making a Mosaic Mirror

As part of our winter programming, Susannah is teaching a mosaic mirror class in the pottery studio next to the café, and she gave me a gift certificate to take it during the first session in January (normally it’s $75!).  Since I have been on an extra-crafty kick lately, I was pretty excited.

She led everyone in the class through the basic steps each week, but we all had total freedom when it came to our mosaic design.  My immediate thought was that a handmade mosaic mirror would be great in my amazing-but-currently-nonexistent travel room.  It’s going to be a room in my future house which is completely devoted to my travels, past and future.  I even have an entire board devoted to it on Pinterest.  It’s gonna be great.

When I first came up with my mosaic idea, I told Susannah about it and about my travel room, and she said something really beautiful: “How lucky that you have enough travels to fill up a room.”  I loved that, and it reminded me to stop and be grateful for all the experiences I’ve had.

So here’s how the mosaic mirror project started: I planned out the overall design for the 28 bisque tiles that would frame the mirror.  I decided to devote some of the tiles to representations of places I’ve lived or traveled to, so I sketched out these more complicated designs (pencil burns off in the kiln).  Here are my Sydney and Geneseo tiles in the early stages:



Places and locations took up seven tiles, which meant there were still a whole bunch left.  I decided on using one as a signature tile, some others as random abstract patterns and textures, and the last few as solid blocks of color to break up all the busyness and reinforce my color scheme (turquoise, blue, and brown).

I also decided to use this project as an exercise in not being neurotic.  I decided on an overall motif for my mirror and a design for each tile, but I decided not to plan out where each tile would go along the border to save myself from worrying about keeping them in their exact order throughout the painting, glazing, and firing processes.  It went pretty well and neuroticism was kept at an all-time low!

Next was painting.  I painted all of my tiles with our kiln-safe paints… unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures during that step of the process, but basically the raw painted tiles looked like dull, chalky versions of the colors I was aiming for.  Not that exciting.

After everything was painted and fully dry, we all left our tiles to be glazed and fired by our very own kiln wizard, Andy the mandy.  After firing, the tiles were bright, vibrant, and glossy!  I laid them out in the order I wanted them (I basically dropped them down in a random arrangement, just spreading out the places, patterns, and solid colors).  Then Susannah helped glue down the mirror using Liquid Nails (that is some heavy-duty stuff!) in the center of the plywood base.


After that, it was mortaring time!  We mixed up small batches of mortar, spread a thin layer on the wooden frame surrounding the mirror, and buttered up each of the tiles before setting them solidly in place.


After all the tiles were set in mortar around the border (a mortar border – HA – oh sorry), we left the mirrors to dry for an entire week to make sure that everything was really cemented in place.  Then it was time to grout!  Pretty similar to the mortar step, we mixed up small batches of grout, and then systematically filled in the gaps between the tiles and around the rim of the mirror.  This part was a little nerve-wracking because the grout only had a working time of about fifteen minutes before it would cure up too much to adjust anything, so I had to get the whole mosaic frame grouted, set, and wiped down in that time.  It was messy.



Aaand after another few days of setting up, it was done and my handmade travel room mosaic mirror was all mine!  Everyone else’s mirrors were really incredible, and I wish I’d thought to take a picture of them all together (there were seven total).  It was so cool to see how different everyone’s was.


Like my awkward iPhone hand?  I was really trying not to be in the picture.  Instead you get a nice view of our weird lifesize-dollhouse-style bookcase.  The glare is blowing out my New York tile in the bottom left corner, but you can use your imagination.

I really like the effect of all the different tiles together, but I think my favorite is this corner, which includes New Zealand, Geneseo, and some cool sponge painting.


Dear travel room, I’m just waitin’ on you!  Oh, and lots more travels to fill you with.

Anyone else want to make some mosaics now?  This made me realize that I sort of love tiling.  This, and that Home Depot commercial that plays constantly where a lady makes a little tiled nook in the wall for her potted plant.  That makes me want to tile, too.

In closing, please enjoy my latest YouTube find: this adorable father/daughter cover of one of the songs from Dirty Dancing.  So stinkin’ cute!

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4 thoughts on “Making a Mosaic Mirror

  1. That is so beautiful!! I love the colors too! A travel room is a really great idea…. I’m going to have to check out your pintrest for myself! 😉

  2. Obsessed. As soon as Pinterest grants me a membership, I will pin your lovely self to it. Also, I LOVE THAT DAD/GIRL DUO. Their “Home” rendition may or may not make me cry sometimes.

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