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.
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