Design a Mosaic Wall Relief

Use discarded dishes from thrift stores and garage sales to create your own mosaic wall relief.

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Dawn Mendelson of Long Beach, Calif., demonstrates the technique of "pique assiette" — using broken plates to create new compositions like this mosaic wall relief.

Materials and Tools:

8" x 10" ceramic tile
pencil and paper
collection of broken plates and 1/4" ceramic tiles
rice bowl
teapot lid
safety goggles
tile nippers
metal file
containers and craft sticks
dust mask
Thinset mortar
rubber gloves
container of water
sanded grout
grout sealant
hanging hardware: chain; 2 no. 6-32 x 3/4" machine screws with nuts
electric drill with 1/8" masonry bit
brown craft paper
air plant


1. Place the 8" x 10" ceramic tile base upside down. Mark and drill two holes at the top of the 8-inch side (for hanging later).

2. Wear safety glasses. Cut the rice bowl in half with tile nippers.

3. Select broken plate pieces and small square tiles with colors that complement each other.

4. Plan the basic layout on paper, cut or drawn to the size of tile base.

5. Break pieces of dishes into various shapes using tile nippers, keeping them approximately the same size.

6. Wearing a dust mask, mix Thinset mortar with water to a creamy consistency.

7. Using a craft stick, apply the mortar to the edges of the bowl half and the desired location on the back of the ceramic tile base. Adhere bowl to the base. Fill the teapot lid with mortar to make sure there is a strong hold.

8. Adhere both the half bowl and the teapot lid to the base tile. Wipe clean any excess mortar around the edges.

9. Use the mortar to adhere tiny ceramic tiles and broken pieces of plates for the border.

10. Adhere the background pieces.

11. Let set for at least 24 hours.

12. Wear an apron, rubber gloves and a dust mask to mix grout. Mix sanded grout with water to a creamy consistency. Add colorant if desired. Let it sit for five minutes.

13. Cover the work surface with brown craft paper. Press and smooth the grout over the mosaic with your hands, filling in all the spaces between the tiles.

14. Poke a toothpick through the grout into the drilled holes to clear them for the hanging hardware.

15. Clean off excess grout on tiles using a damp sponge.

16. Buff the piece clean with a dry cloth.

17. Let the mosaic cure for at least 24 hours.

18. Seal with grout sealant using a small paintbrush or sponge.

19. Add the hardware and chain to hang.

20. Place an air plant in the rice bowl and hang your mosaic wall relief.

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