Floral Mosaic Tile Frame

Terri Nikolis of Dallas turned an artistic ability into beautiful frames for furnishings.

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While preparing a first-time mosaic project for her daughter's school auction, Terri Nikolis recognized an unknown talent and joy of creating with her hands. This led Terri to take a local class in ceramics. Soon she began to make her signature handmade mosaic tile frames for mirrors, cork and magnetic boards.

Materials and Tools:

clay
cookie cutters
kiln
underglaze
clear glaze
frame
tile adhesive
black grout
rubber gloves
sponge
water
painting supplies (optional)

Steps:

1. Paint the frame you wish to embellish before beginning, if desired.

2. Roll clay into approximately 1/4-inch-thick slabs.

3. Cut tiles with cookie cutters or build by hand (such as flowers). Some pieces are cut with cookie cutters and then attached to other pieces of clay to make three-dimensional pieces. (Flowers can also be made with flower cookie cutters in three sizes, starting with the largest size on the bottom and adding each smaller size on top to make multi-petal, three-dimensional pieces.)

4. The clay then has to air-dry approximately overnight. After it has dried, wipe each piece with a wet sponge to smooth out the pieces and eliminate imperfections.

5. Place the pieces in a kiln and bisque fire to cone 04 (the firing takes approximately 8 hours and about 8 hours to cool). Let cool.

6. Place bisque-fired pieces on the frame, filling in almost all the space with different sizes and shapes of pieces. Tip: Take a digital picture of the piece so you can remember where each piece goes.

7. Paint each piece with bright-colored underglazes. Use a base color on each piece, then with small squirt bottles, add detail with two or three additional colors.

8. After the underglazes have dried (which takes no more than 30 minutes), pour a clear dipping glaze about 1 inch deep in a plastic flat dish and dip each piece in it. Place on newspaper to dry.

9. After the glaze has dried (about 15 minutes), wipe the glaze off the bottom of each piece. Place on kiln shelves and put in the kiln and fire to cone 06 (the firing takes about 7-1/2 hours and then cools for about 8 hours).

10. Place the fired pieces back on the item to be made, using ceramic tile adhesive to secure them. This needs to dry overnight.

11. After the adhesive is dry, mix black grout and spread over the mosaic tiles with your hands (using rubber gloves), filling in the spaces between tiles; then wipe the excess with a wet sponge. Use a toothpick to pick out any grout inside the flowers or stuck to any of the three-dimensional tiles. The piece then needs to dry completely, usually overnight. Make sure the piece is completely clean of all grout residues; then it is ready to go.

Website: www.piecebypieceart.com

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