These short, dark, winter days are the perfect time to think about brightening up your garden with some garden art. My favourite garden art is glass mosaics because they are so versatile. Used for stepping stones, signs, quirky objects and even applied directly to structures such as your greenhouse or a stone wall they are enduring and colourful. I don’t do as much mosaics as I would like to and the pieces I have done have been a bit time consuming. So I thought I would warm up to mosaics this winter by making several ‘garden cubes’.

My cubes are small concrete pavers (4” x 4”) but one can use any size of paver or brick. The main thing is that they are small so that several can be made up in an afternoon. Once cured they can be placed within the garden separately or together. Not only are they easy to do, they still look good when they are full of mistakes.

Following is the process:

1) On a piece of paper draw lines for the dimensions of your paver or brick or flat stone and draw something within the borders, but keep it simple for now.

2) Now take some mactac and transfer your drawing to the mactac by holding them both against a window and tracing the drawing onto the mactac. What you want to end up with is the right side of your drawing facing the sticky side of the mactac. Basically, you build your picture upside down. For a small project you can also just draw directly on the mactac. Cut your mac tac to match the dimensions of the object you are going to mosaic and leave about ¼ inch extra all the way around. Lift the corners of the mactac backing and tape it to a board, cardboard or whatever as long as it is a stiff support. Now peal off the backing and lay your pieces onto the sticky surface. If you have to stop, just lay the backing on top of your project to keep the surface clean.

3) Get your stone or paver and put masking tape around the side edges to keep them clean. Then mix up some thinset (preferably with acrylic in it)-you just require a small amount-and put a thin coating on your stone. Take your mosaic and place a piece of strong cardboard on top so that the mosaic is sandwiched between two supports.Then turn the mosaic over and take what was the bottom support away and slide the mosaic onto the prepared stone. Carefully position the mosaic and apply some pressure to get the mosaic settled on the thinset. Make sure the surface is smooth, then cover with a damp cloth and leave for maybe 12 hours.Cover the container with the thinset as you will need it again.

4) After 12 hours peel off the plastic from the surface of your mosaic. If it seems like it hasn’t set up much then leave it alone for a bit longer. If it is set up then gently clean the surface and fix any pieces that don’t seem to be in place. Using your thinset place more on top of your mosaic and push it in to the gaps. Wipe off the surface of the mosaic with a cloth or sponge. Repeat the process if there are still gaps. Then cover the stone again with a damp cloth and leave for another 6 hours. Now pull off the masking tape gently and clean any residual thin set. Once the thinset has set, it will be hard to remove it.

5) I assume you can put a sealer on your mosaic if you want the thin set to stay clean outside, but i haven’t tried it. You can also use coloured grout in your mosaic but then i think you would need a sealer. Regardless, if it is winter, you should let your mosaic cure inside for a few weeks at least.

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