Garden Sphere Mosaic

DIY crafting experts show how to create a unique garden mosaic.
unique and whimsical garden sphere mosaic

unique and whimsical garden sphere mosaic

Take a ball from a toy store and try this eye-grabbing design.

Materials and Tools:

15" rubber ball
Parex fiberglass mesh cut into 4" squares
Parex acrylic concrete
1-1/2" margin trowel
safety goggles
plastic tarp
work gloves
latex gloves
colored chalk
shop rag
black china marker/grease pencil
acrylic paint (any kind)
shop rag
paint brush
scissors
2" plastic putty knife for mixing and back buttering
assorted bright colored exterior tiles
tack hammer
dichroic glass
wheeled mosaic nippers
1/4" mirror
glass cutter
8" running pliers
thin-set tile adhesive 8# bag
sanded tile grout (pale mauve #10)
grout glitter/metal flake
magenta and orange, 1 oz. each color
cellulose sponge
tile sponge, cut in half
paper towels
mixing bowls
rinse bucket for grouting

FYI: Dichroic glass is fusing glass by getting it so hot it melts together. It has a transmitted color and a completely reflective color (di=two, chroic=colors; dichroic=two colors). While light passing through dichroic glass will transmit one color, light that bounces off reflects another color.

Steps

1. Using a regular paint brush, coat the rubber ball with regular latex paint to give it texture. You want your working surface to be strong enough. Let it dry.

2. Mix Parex acrylic concrete with water to the consistency of thick cake batter. Spread a thin layer of concrete onto the ball with a margin trowel, as if you were frosting a cake.
Tip: The acrylic concrete will add a sturdy exterior to the rubber ball.

3. Cut fiberglass mesh into approximately 4" x 4" pieces with scissors.

4. Place the fiberglass squares into the ball, flatten and embed into the concrete with a trowel and then smooth. Overlap the pieces by about an inch.

5. Cover the entire ball in this fashion and let dry. Do two more layers for a total of three layers and let completely dry.

6. Use chalk to freehand a design onto the ball. Go over the design lines with a china marker.

7. Wearing safety goggles, cut 1/4" mirror into 1/2" strips with a glass cutter. Snap off with running pliers.
Tip: After cutting the mirror there will be splinters that you have created. These can cut you, so make sure you remove them from the work area as you are working.

8. Wearing work gloves and goggles, break tiles on the BACK (non-glazed) side into small pieces, separate by color into bowls.

9. Mix thin-set adhesive with water to the consistency of commercial peanut butter, let it stand five minutes and then re-stir and use.

10. "Back butter" pieces of the mirror with thin-set and stick onto the design line on the ball to form a mirrored line.

11. Using a plastic putty knife, back butter each tile piece.
Tip: Use the tile piece to take the thin-set off the putty knife; you will keep your fingers cleaner.

12. Place the tiles according to what colors you like onto the concrete sphere. Blend and mix the colors as you like, using small bowls of tile pieces like a painter's pallet.
Tip: Leave a 1/8" to 1/4" space between the tiles. This is called a "grout joint" and will later be filled with grout.

13. Cover the entire piece with tile, aligning the edges of the tiles like puzzle pieces.

14. Let the thin-set dry overnight.

15. Mix sanded tile grout to consistency of commercial peanut butter. Let stand five minutes and re-stir vigorously (this is important). This is called "slaking." Always wear latex gloves when grouting.

16. Wet cellulose sponge in rinse bucket, wring out completely and use to apply grout to ball.

17. Wipe grout onto ball, forcing into the grout joints and moving your sponge in different directions to make sure there are not empty joints.

18. Wipe clean with a sponge and let set for five to 10 minutes.

19. Wet the tile sponge and wring out completely and wipe down the tile again.

20. Sprinkle on metal flake/grout glitter and rub into wet grout joints with gloved hand.

21. Let grout "skin over" and form a light film.

22. When the grout is sandy to the touch and no longer wet, buff with paper towel or a clean, soft rag.

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