Tuesday, 5 July 2016

July 6 th 2016

My other recent project has been to make another mosaic for the garden.  I am a real novice and self taught but love the process.
I wanted a panel depicting gold fish to complement the pond seats and pick up the colours in this area of the garden including the blue 'French corner'.

I learnt a lot making the pond seats.  Mosaics which are for outside use need to be mounted on concrete board not wood.


Wood does not work as it expands and contracts with the weather and so the tiles will eventually pop off.

I use the indirect method which involves using strong brown craft paper and reversing the design.

Here you can see the design drawn out and the pattern emerging.  The tiles are glued upside down 
( back uppermost) the front of the tiles is stuck down onto the paper using 50/50 water souluble PVA glue.  There is masses of information and instructions on the Internet.  Here is a great site

I find the best way to see how it is progressing is to take frequent photos.  Because it is not yet grouted it's difficult to see the pattern but a photo works brilliantly.  Oops the fish need bubbles (nearly forgot)! 
the panel needs a frame too.

That's much better!

You can try different ideas and see how they work. 
 Here I wanted to try some larger tiles but decided against them in the end.
If you don t like an area you can pop the tiles off easily and correct.

Once all the tiles have been applied the piece is pre grouted.  This ensures that the adhesive which is white does not come up to the surface through the tiles.   The grout I use is from Topp tiles (the staff are really helpful and knowledgeable) I tend to go with black but there are several different colours now on the market.  Don't go with a colour that is the same as your tiles or they will disappear into the background.

This grout has a special ingredient which stops it from whitening.  It's a bit more expensive but worth it when you have spent so long on a project it's very frustrating to have it spoiled for the sake of a few pounds.  This happened to me on a mosaic table although I rescued it by going over all the grout with a sharpie pen! (I kid you not) I decided I had nothing to lose but it worked and two years on is still fine.

Wear a mask and gloves.... it's a messy job and the powdered grout and adhesive is an irritant if breathed in.

I got a tip from a mosaic forum which was to mix the water and grout (1 part water to 5 parts grout) in a zippy plastic bag and squidgy round to mix.  It works really well to contain the mess.


Here is the panel finished and before it is pre-grouted.

And here pre-grouted

I measured the wall where the panel will be hung and pre drilled two holes.  I held the hardie backer against the wall as a guide and marked the screw holes onto the board and the wall this allowed me to drill the mortar (much easier) rather than the brickwork.  The two holes are now half way across about 1 inch down from the top and about 3 " up from the bottom ( see photo above)

Now prepare the hardie backer board.  I painted the edges and the back using suitable paint. I then pre drilled the hardie backer with a countersunk drill so the screw head would be flat.  This will provide an invisible fixing.  I have left two tiles out of the design where the screws will go. Once screwed into the wall the tile can be glued back in and then grouted to form an invisible fix.  The tile can be prised off if necessary.  

The backer board is covered with a thinsulate adhesive similar to the grout in powder form and mixed with water to form a slightly thinner consistency.  The exact amounts are clearly marked on the pack.  This is applied to the board and required a notched spreader to create furrows. This helps the tiles to adhere well.
Then the pre grouted panel is applied to the adhesive tile side down.
Note to self this job needs 4 hands to carefully position it before it touches the adhesive.
This is then gently firmed down so the surfaces bond.  You will need to make sure all the edges of the tiles and the backing board line up.

Once this is dry, moisten the paper and leave for 5-10 minutes to soak in, you may need to wet the paper several times and then it should peel off.  Make sure you are careful round the edges as these tiles are very vulnerable.  If tiles come lose you must restick them with a suitable  glue as grout has no adhesive qualities.

Once peeled off make sure all the paper is off the tiles and clean them up if necessary.

Once dry, grout the top to fill in any gaps.  This photo is in here so you are nt frightened when you grout!

Use scrunched up newspaper to remove excess grout from the surface it works really well and avoids too much water which will dilute the grout. Some books suggest dampening a sponge and repeatedly going over the tiles to remove the grout. I find this does use quite a bit of water even if you are careful and takes ages.  This is the first mosaic I have used scrunched paper on and it works brilliantly and is quick. 
 When clean leave for 30 mins and then polish with a clean dry cloth.  

Leave over night and repeat the buffing up.  Grout takes 24-36 hours to 'cure' and if you are going to put it outside it is a good idea to seal it with a good quality grout sealer.  The books recommend waiting 72 hours before doing this.

Here it is in its final setting

Close up

Monday, 4 July 2016

July 3 rd 2016

July 4 th 2016

I always struggle with indoor crafts when the summer comes. The garden beckons and having been retired now for a year I have been able to give it the time it deserves this year.

This photo was taken on 31 st May this year
The alliums were great, especially the three globemasters (middle of bed).  The larger head size is not so obvious. They have been great value, I plan to get some more for next year for both sides of the path, they are now forming seed heads but are still lovely. 

The bed otherwise is waiting patiently for the perennials to spring into life.

And now!

It's great to see it at this time of year, The wall was built last year, finished in late July and then planted up so all these plants are in their first year, almost certainly too many.
 The illusion door is brilliant, it fools most people and gives a real focus to this side of the garden, the path nicely breaking up the two beds.

Trip round the rest of the garden

The pond has goldfish and a heron stop wire fence which has mostly worked except for one event earlier in the year when a new heron on the block halved the stock!

The beautiful Japanese grass Hakenechloa macra at the back of the pond has a lovely compact habit and is very well behaved.
The pot in the foreground with the multicoloured leaves is Hottuyunia cordata 'chameleon'  it is very invasive if in open ground and it likes a moist, well drained soil.  I ve tried it in the pond but that was too wet. So I have lined this pot and the one on the other side with a thick black bin bag, slashed the bottom and filled with compost, manure and John Innes no 3. This makes a 'bog pot' and they love it, they've flourished and are hopefully contained.

The 'aviary' in the background is a cat house for our indoor cats.  Our Ragdoll (such a fantastic breed)   Minx now goes into the back garden which has been made much safer with the wall which relpaced a very decrepit fence.   Here she is :-

Ragdoll cats are bred to be indoor cats which is why we bought 2 6 years ago.  We lost her sister earlier in the year from kidney diseases and we have missed her and feel Minx could do with some feline company.
She will soon be joined by 2 Ragdoll kittens 

Ruff (aged 5 weeks) and 

Tumble......so cute, hope she thinks so too.

Back to the garden!

The side of the house has a separate garden linked by a curved cobbled path. Here we have a free standing pond with mosaic seats, made to make them more durable.

There is also a 'French corner' 

The succulent pot is new this year

These are doing well but will need winter protection from frost and wet weather.
I plan to dismantle and cover with Victorian cloches or borrow my neighbours green house.

I have enjoyed being in my garden this year and seeing it mature, there are still large areas which are quite new and I am planning a fairy garden for next year.......