Monday, July 15, 2013

Mosaic Tile DIY

So we have this bookshelf that we turned on its side to use for our tv in the living room. It's got 8 cubbies, and only came with enough backing to cover whichever 2 cubbies we wanted. I got tired of being able to see through them and the mess of cables. I thought I'd buy a 12" x 12" mosaic tile with a really awesome pattern from the store, attach it to some wood, and then to the back of my cubbies.  But I didn't want to spend that much (even though that could also be fairly low cost).  Then somehow I thought of this: painting wooden sticks and attaching them to a poster board.  Now, I didn't have a clue how that would turn out or how long-lasting it'd be, but I figured that it would at least be a fun project. Plus major bonus:  the materials are so incredibly cheap!  I wouldn't be too upset if it didn't turn out as I envisioned it. So here's how it looks in our "entertainment center":
DIY mosaic in back of shelf  (left of the owl)
Supplies (Less than $5.00):
1. Bottle of glue - Elmer's or Tacky Glue ( I used tacky glue because that's what I had laying around and I'm comfortable with how it works.)

2. Paint - any paint/glazes/stains you have.  I used small acrylic paints that I got for like $0.30 on sale. I mixed my own colors to have more variety.

3. A brush - I used about a 1" brush and I was able to paint 2 sticks at once to speed up the process a bit.

4. Popsicle sticks - these come in multiple sizes, choose whichever you'd like.  Mine are the 1/2" wide. I found them at Michael's and I used a coupon so I spent less than $3.00 for a pack of 500.. don't know if I'll ever use them all but I probably won't have to restock on these for a very long time!

5. Poster board - yeah, like the $0.25 poster board! One sheet covered 2 of my cubbies (each about 1' x 1'). You might want something sturdier, but this worked just fine for me.  I chose white, but if you're trying to go for a look that is all different shades of one color, I'd go with the poster board in a similar color.

6. Scissors, pencil, ruler

7. Cup of water and paper towels to clean brush in between colors.

8. Nails and hammer (if you plan on attaching to the back of a bookshelf like mine).

1. Lay out your poster board.  I used the same board to paint the sticks and then attach them on.

2. Cut your sticks. This is the not so fun part, so get it out of the way now.  I wanted all of my sticks to be rectangular, and at least the sticks that I found had rounded corners.  So you can volunteer a partner if you want for this ;).  If you have a chopper of some sort, that might save you some time.  I just used plain old scissors and help from hubby to cut these corners off.

3. Get your paint on! I actually decided to water down my paints a bit so you can still see the grains from the sticks just a bit (bonus: you'll use less paint and have leftovers for more projects).  The possibilities here are endless.  I decided I wanted a bright punch of color for ours. So I have a little bit of every color, and added a few bronze and silver pieces for a some shine. A little glitz can't hurt!
Maybe you want to do shades of browns, or cooler tones.  I turned a close-up of mine into sepia so you can see how it might look if you wanted to do all browns (which I really like and would like to do for a different project):

Paint, paint, paint.  By the time you move on to using a different colors, your first ones will be dried. You don't really need to worry about drying time for these especially if you don't glob on the paint - easy does it.

4. Measure out where your piece is going. Then draw it out on your poster board.

5. Here's how I attached the pieces: I wanted an offset look.  So I started with 3 different stick sizes; the full length, 2/3 of the length, and 1/2 of the length (I eyeballed these measurements).

I started with a full length stick on the bottom left border and glued my way over to the right.  In my case, the sticks hung over the edge when I got to the right. I marked with a pencil where it should stop, cut, and glued.  Depending on what size or pattern you're going for, maybe you won't have that problem! 

On the next row, I used a stick that was 2/3 of the length, glued my way over to the right, marked and cut if there was any hangover.  On the next row, I used a stick that was 1/2 of the full length, and glued my way to the right. Then on the third row, I used a full length stick again. And repeat.

There might be an easier way, but I started this project late at night and I refused to stop until I finished, so maybe I wasn't thinking as clearly as I would have earlier in the day.  

6. Then when I let it dry for about 10 minutes just to make sure those last few rows were really attached, I cut the poster board about 1" around the tile because in my case, I still had to attach this to the back of my bookshelf and that was just enough space so I could nail it down. Patrick nailed the poster board to the back of the bookshelf while I made sure it was nice and level, and ta-dah!

I really, really want to do a radial pattern to hang as art on the wall using this same technique.  And maybe add a circle mirror on the inside.  There are so many possibilities with this.  It's simple and fun, kids can have a blast with this and you can turn all those painted sticks into anything. Maybe a frame for their artwork? Lay some mod podge over it and create a place mat? Coasters?

Linked on Clean & Scentsible


  1. Cool idea! I love all the colors, and I agree - this would be awesome as wall art!

    1. Thanks, I'll probably do a little something for the nursery :)

  2. That looks awesome - what a great idea! I'm totally going to try it out :) Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you:) If you do something like this I'd love to see it!

  3. This is amazing. what a fabulous idea with popsicle sticks. Love it. Thanks for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty