Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tutorial-Mosaic Fish Bead Birdfeeder

When I first applied for the set of fish beads from sbsupply on Etsy, she wanted some ideas about how you might use them to make her choice as to who received them. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a mosaic birdfeeder. After all, fish and birds just go together, right? So now the problem was, what did I want my birdfeeder to look like. While waiting to see whether I was chosen to receive a set of beads, I mulled it over and started making some rough drawings of what I wanted. I can’t draw, but at least I got an idea of how I wanted it to look. Finally I got the news I was chosen and got to pick which set/color of fish beads I wanted. When I got them, they are adorable. Now to get to work, getting my final picture drawn out, although it may change as I start applying the glass, but it’s basically what I want. Here’s a picture of how I want it to look, more or less.

Next, I needed to decide what size clay saucer to use as the base for my birdfeeder. I decided for everything I wanted and to look right, it needed to be a 10” clay saucer. So here’s a photo of all the supplies you would need to make a mosaic birdfeeder out of a clay saucer. There’s:

1. Clay Saucer

2. Fish Beads (from sbsupply at Etsy)

3. Miscellaneous glass to use to fill in. (These are all scraps from my stained glass projects.) Plus on this project, I will be using Glass Globs to glue around the sides of the saucer, to decorate.

4. Glass cutter for the more precise pieces, like the bird and clouds. Breaking pliers to break off the pieces of glass you’ve cut.

5. Glue to glue everything. I use E-6000.

6. Grout to fill in when all the glass is attached. And masking tape to tape off the top edges to keep from getting grout on them. I will also use it to tape off the half I’m not grouting, if I decide to use 2 colors of grout. Something to mix the grout in, a rubber spatula to mix with and scoop out on the feeder and a sponge to wipe off excess. Also a soft cloth to polish off the haze of the grout.

7. And finally some sealer to seal the grout and protect everything with once it’s good and dry. I use a general all-purpose sealer from Wal-Mart or Lowe’s.

So, I’ve got my drawing, the saucer and I start gluing the fish beads down. I want to place them first, so I know where to start my water pieces. I then draw off my pattern for the bird and the clouds onto my glass and take my glass cutter and cut them out.

Cutting glass takes a little bit of practice. You need to make sure it scores (cuts) well. You can usually tell by the sound. With pieces that have lots of curves, I only cut a little at a time. I break those pieces off and then make another cut and break it. Since I want the bird and the clouds to be more precise, when I’m done cutting them I use my glass grinder to smooth out all the edges, so there’s no sharp edges on them and they have a clean look.

Once they’re done to my satisfaction, I glue them in place.
Now I know where to put the water pieces and sand pieces. I take my mosaic cutters, my scraps of glass and start placing the pieces for the water. If the scraps are too big or won’t quite fit where I want them, I can nip off pieces or edges of the glass with the mosaic cutters to get them to fit. This part is basically like a jigsaw puzzle. I just take a piece and put it where it seems to fit or follow the curves/edges of the other glass that’s down. When I’m satisfied with the look, I glue it down. Also, I’ve already glued the little pieces for the bird legs, since I want it to look like the bird is standing in the water and I can glue water pieces around the legs.

Next I glue the pieces in for the sand. I also glue the beak and the final fish down so I can start on the sky pieces. I decided to go ahead and put the branch and leaves in, so they’re next. That way I have them specifically where I want them. And the final part of this process is to start gluing the blue pieces for the sky. I have a few little pieces of a blueish-gray, that I mix in to make it a little more realistic. I also used a little bit of green and blue-green in the water to make it more realistic. Keep in mind while you’re gluing all your pieces down, it will look really bad. You’ll see all the extra glue that squeezes out as you push your pieces down to make sure they’re attached well. (You want them completely glued down so no grout or anything can get under them and lift them later.) Plus it just doesn’t look like much until it’s all filled in with grout. Next I glue the glass nuggets to the sides of the saucer. I use some blue around the water edge and white around the rest of the saucer. This is the tricky part. Since they’re on the sides, they want to slide down. So you have to press them in really hard and then keep going back for about 10 minutes moving them back up into position until they finally start drying enough to hold them in place. Viola! All the glass is in.

Next we tape and grout. Although it’s a lot more work, I’ve decided to go ahead and use 2 colors grout. I’ll use black on the water area and then white on the rest of the birdfeeder. I like my grout to kind of match my glass and blend in (most of the time) so it doesn’t distract from the scene. To tape off the edges, just tear little pieces of your masking tape off and fit it around the edges. Next I’ll tape off the top part of the feeder that will have the white grout so I don’t get any of the black grout in those areas.
Now it’s ready to grout. I just mix my grout basically according to the instructions on the box or bag. You want it to be about the consistency of peanut butter. I do only add a little water at a time and mix to make sure I don’t get it too wet. I scrape the grout on with my rubber spatula and spread/push it down into all the areas between and around the glass. When I’ve got enough spread on, I start scraping off the excess. (It’s good to use rubber gloves if you have them, so the grout won’t stain and dry out your hands.) Once I’ve gotten most of the excess off, I take a damp sponge (damp-because you don’t want to put more water into your grout) and start gently wiping off the excess grout that’s still on your glass. I define the edges of the little fish beads, by wiping a little harder around them so they’ll stand out.

Once I feel I’ve gotten most of the grout off, I let it stand about 10 minutes to start drying out. Then I take an old sock or other soft rag, and start wiping gently and polishing the glass to get the rest of the grout off and shine everything up. (If you knock a little piece of grout off, just take some of the excess you scraped off earlier and refill the spot. This is why you don’t throw your excess grout away until you’re completely done.) You will have to go over it at least 3-4 times to get it polished up and the grout haze off. Now I’ll let it stand for about 24 hours before I retape the bottom part and do the white grout.


It’s the same with the white grout as the black. After about 10 minutes or so, carefully pull all the tape off the edges and bottom. When I’m all done, it will set another 24 hours or more and then apply the sealer with a small brush or sponge. Once it’s dry (about 24 hours) you can polish your glass back up with a soft cloth.

Viola! You have a mosaic birdfeeder. Now all you need is a hanger. I make macramé hangers for mine.

(P.S. Sorry if this post is disjointed. I've spent over an hour trying to get my pictures to line up with my posting and it's just not working, but I think you can get the idea.) This birdfeeder will be available in my shop KayzKreationz as soon as I figure out shipping.


Raige Creations said...

this is great! I have been dying to try mosaics. I know how to cut and grind glass since my stained glass class, but know little about the grout, etc. of mosaics. I love your design too! Thanks.

Kathleen McGiveron said...

What a beautiful how to mosaic tutorial! Amazing bird bath! so descriptive!

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KayzKreationz said...

Thanks raige and Kathleen. I really enjoyed doing it.

inkwear99 said...

Wow, Kay, that is amazing and beautiful. Lots of hard work too.

Evie's Tool Emporium said...

This birdfeed tutorial is wonderful! I love the end result!

Laci Jo said...

last time i did a mosaic was in high school, and i loved it! now you are makin' me wanna do it again!

Liz-AnnasOnTheLake said...

What a lovely bird feeder. Thanks for the great tutorial.

craftlicious said...

This is awesome i love the little birdie cant wait for see your mosaic tutorial.
you are awesome