Found Object Mosaic Wall Art
by guest blogger Renee
I’ve been enthralled with mosaic art using found
objects since I was a kid. This project is a great way to
share mosaic with your kids. It’s a fun and easy project
but the best part is that it uses up lots of odds and ends
that tend to gather in and around the house and
otherwise end up in your trash can and ultimately in
the landfill. You know - those stray doll shoes, stubby
pencils, loose beads, fast food toys, etc. Get ready for
this project and go clean out your junk drawers, look in
between the couch cushions and under the seats in
the mini van!
Gather up plenty of fun and colorful objects of various sizes:
beads, paperclips, pom poms, sequins, epoxy stickers, doll shoes,
buttons, bottle caps, game pieces, small toys, hair clips, silk
flowers, miniature animals, action figures, trinkets, seashells, tiny
stones, marbles or any small colorful bit of something, broken or
not. Metal, plastic, and wood items work fine but avoid items
made of paper or cardboard as it may warp from the moisture in
the mastic. Ribbon and fabric can work too but can be
more difficult to work with.
A plastic knife or some other tool to spread with.
Tile Mastic- Any brand will do. I’m currently using Henry brand
ReadySet premixed mastic adhesive. You can find tile
mastic/adhesive at your local hardware store.
Screwdriver to pry the lid off the mastic
A substrate - or surface to work on. For this project I chose a
pre-cut wooden letter purchased at the craft store. Other suitable
substrates are metal, masonite or plastic letters or shapes. Buy
them pre-cut or cut them yourself if you are handy.
A protected work surface
Set up a hand washing area nearby.
1. The first step is to apply the mastic to your substrate.
It’s as easy as frosting a cookie! Just spread the mastic
on thickly - about ¼” thick and clean the edges off with
your knife or spreading tool as you go. Work a small area
at a time. You don’t want your mastic to dry out too soon.
I find that an area about the size of my hand is a good
working area. Remember to lay the lid back on your tub
of mastic so it doesn’t dry out while you work. My project
is just about the size of my hand so I’m covering the
entire surface at once.
2. Begin placing your bits and bobs onto the
mastic. Choose your biggest & coolest items first so you
don’t run out of room and be sure to save some of your
tiniest items for finishing the edges and filling
in between other objects.
3. Lay the items lightly on the mastic while deciding
where things should go. If you don’t like where
something is you can change it around. Once you’re sure
about placement, press them gently into the mastic.
4. Start filling in with smaller items. You just can’t have
too much stuff on a mosaic! Try to cover as much of the
mastic as possible. Try filling in any object openings with
smaller items. See (below)how I added a tiny bead into
the hole on the key? You can create patterns and color
themes or go completely random. On my project
today I’ve used mostly blue items because that’s
my daughter’s favorite color.
5. Please note that if you accidentally get mastic on the
top side of one of your baubles it should easily wipe off
with a damp cloth. If it has already dried, it should easily
scrape right off of most objects.
6. If you are doing a larger project continue by adding
another area of mastic and repeating steps 2-4.
7. Once the entire surface area is covered and filled in as
much as you want you can start the sides. It is easier if
you let the project dry before doing the sides but it’s not
absolutely necessary. I’m impatient and usually dive right
in. Carefully pick up your piece and spread mastic on the
edges (one side at a time), being careful not to get
mastic on the back side of your project. (If you do, just
wipe it off). Again use the edge of your knife to
clean off the edges.
8. Use your smaller bits and bobs and press into the
mastic on the sides, being careful not to extend the items
beyond the back edge of the project. A bumpy back side
will make it difficult to hang your finished piece. Again, it
might be easier to let your project dry between sides
for easier handling.
9. Let your project dry thoroughly. 24-48 hours is best
depending on your brand of mastic adhesive.
10. Once dry it is complete and ready to display.
1. When working with younger children you can
spread the mastic and they can place the
baubles onto the surface.
2. Make sure you have enough mastic for your entire
project. On one large project I switched brands midway
through and at first it looked fine but after aging for a
couple of years the second brand of mastic I used
changed from bright white to a more yellowed white.
On it’s own that would have been fine but it was right
up against the very white mastic of the other brand
I’d used. It looks bad!
3. Make it collaborative! Have a group work together to
collect the found objects and do a big project together. I
did this both with my local library and with my son’s
Kindergarten class. I set out a container and the children
brought in their found objects for several weeks I then
had giant letters cut out of masonite to spell the word
“READ”. When finished the letters were hung in the
library. I did have to “edit” the collected items before
starting by removing items that were not suitable (paper,
cardboard, etc.) and for items that were just not
appropriate for a children’s public art
project (beer caps, guns).
and pick a substrate that is 3-D. They used a plastic
pedal car that had seen better days. The art teacher
covered it with mastic one section at a time and let the
students cover it with the bits and bobs that they had
collected from home. You can see it here. They also
covered a plastic toy guitar!
5. Mastic washes off easily with soap and water but the
package suggests avoiding skin contact and working in
a well ventilated area.
6. Try the same technique on a empty can or other
rescued object. Use your imagination!
7. The pre-cut letter I used had a keyhole cut into the
back for hanging which really simplifies things. If your
object doesn’t have a pre-cut hole you can always add
picture hangers to the back before or after completing the
mosaic. I like to add it after so I have a nice flat surface
to work on while creating the mosaic but it does make
putting the picture hanger on a little trickier.
Thank you so much to Renee for putting
together this wonderful tutorial! Renee is a crafty mom
that blogs at I Love My__ Life where she shares family
adventures, her creative work and eye candy she finds
on the internet so be sure to go for a visit.