How to Make a Mosaic Wildflower Monolith Sign

Design a ceramic tile flower to decorate a stone sign.

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Materials and Tools:

fiberglass mesh
1-by-1-inch and 2-by-2-inch ceramic tile in various colors
PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue
thinset mortar
sanded grout
contractor-grade waterproof sealant
sandstone
safety glasses
respirator
grinder
chisels
hammer
grout float
sponge
bucket of water
terry-cloth towel
mixing containers
notched trowel
foam brush
pencil
wax paper
masking tape
offset tile nippers
square of wood for work surface

Steps:

1. Cut and shape the wildflower with offset tile nippers and ceramic tile. Quarter a 2-by-2-inch off-white tile, and shape each square meticulously into a flower petal.

2. Shape several off-white tile petals.

3. Shape the corolla in the same manner from a 1-by-1-inch deep-yellow tile.

4. Cut and shape the background tiles with the offset nippers. Quarter a 1-by-1-inch ceramic tile, and remove the beveled edge from each 3/8-inch piece, shaping it into a tidy square.

5. Cut a square from fiberglass mesh using scissors. Cover a scrap piece of wood with wax paper to use as a work surface. Tape the wax paper onto the wood. This will prevent glue from leaking through the mesh and sticking to the surface.

6. Tape the mesh to the wax paper on the scrap wood. Mark the center and a border around the mesh.

7. Starting at the center, glue the tile pieces for the flower first, and then glue the background tiles around the flower with PVA glue. "Butter" each individual piece with glue and put it into place on the mesh. Let the glue dry.

8. Prepare the substrate by tracing a template the approximate size of the mosaic on the stone with a pencil.

9. Wearing safety glasses and a respirator, use a grinder to score the prescribed space to the right depth and chisels to remove the small chunks within. When you're done, there will be a recessed well the depth of the tile.

10. Mix the mortar with water and apply it to the space for the mosaic. Press the mosaic into the mortar to assure a good bond. Allow ample time for the mortar to cure, which will vary depending on how thick the mortar is mixed, with 12 to 24 hours being optimal.

11. Mix sanded grout with water to the consistency of pudding. Mask off the stone around the edges of the opening. Apply the grout to the mosaic with a float, filling all spaces between the tiles. Let the grout stand for about 15 minutes, and then clean the monolith wildflower sign with a wet sponge. Remove the grout haze with a terry-cloth towel. Pull off the masking tape.

12. Let the grout cure for a minimum of 48 hours, and then seal the mosaic sign with a high-quality sealant applied with a foam brush.

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