Click to Print

Face Mosaic Wall Hanging

Rhoda Kahler combines handmade and commercial tiles to create her face mosaic wall hanging.

Materials and Tools:

picture frame*
cement board
utility knife
brads or nails
tile adhesive, tile nippers
grout, bucket, stirring stick, dust mask
rubber gloves, leather gloves, safety goggles
sponge, rags
wire and eyehooks
commercial or handmade tiles
tracing paper and black marker
brick of clay
rolling pin or slab roller
needle tool
low-fire glazes and paintbrush
masking tape
ruler or measuring tape
staple gun and staples
*Purchase a frame from a craft or art store or from flea markets or yard sales.


1. Create a face design on tracing paper. The main focal points for the face and selected design shapes are made of handmade ceramic tiles. Use a dark marker so the design will be visible when it is placed on the clay.

2. Handmade tiles: Wedge out a piece of clay, pounding it to eliminate air bubbles and make it smooth.

3. Roll out the clay into flat sheets using a rolling pin or slab roller to a thickness of approximately 3/8 inch.

4. Place the tracing paper design on the clay slab and transfer the lines to the clay using a needle tool to make slight indentations in the clay. Do not pierce the paper with the needle tool.

5. Remove the tracing paper and use the needle tool to cut through the clay on the indentation lines. Remove the excess clay from around the design pieces.

6. Smooth the edges of the clay designs with a sponge and water.

7. Allow the clay pieces to dry for a few days.

8. Paint various colored low-fire glazes on the dry clay pieces with a paintbrush. Allow the glaze to dry.

9. Fire the clay pieces in a kiln to cone 06.

10. Measure the dimensions of the frame.

11. Transfer the frame measurements to a piece of cement board using a pencil and ruler.

12. Score the cement board several times on the pencil lines using a utility knife. Remember to wear leather gloves to avoid getting cut and for protection.

13. Break the cement board on the score line by snapping it on the edge of a hard surface such as a step. Repeat for each score line on the cement board.

14. Tack the cement board to back of the frame using a staple gun.

15. Remove the clay tile pieces from the kiln after the kiln cools down to under 200 degrees F.

16. Position the handmade clay tiles into the prepared frame.

17. Wearing gloves and goggles break or cut commercial tiles (purchased at a tile store) into smaller pieces using a hammer and tile nippers.

18. Fill in the spaces around the handmade tiles with the broken pieces of commercial tiles. Use the tile nippers to adjust the size and/or shape of the broken tiles to fit better. Tiles should be set approximately 1/4 inch apart.

19. After all tiles are positioned; you are ready to adhere the tiles to the cement board. Pick up each tile one at a time and apply tile adhesive on the back of each tile using a knife. Push the tile back into place. Do not use too much glue so that it oozes up on top of the tiles. Let the adhesive dry for 24 hours.

20. Mix the grout to the consistency of thick batter. Choose a grout color that will complement the colors of the tiles. Let it stand for 15 minutes. Wear rubber gloves and a protective mask when mixing grout.

21. Cover the frame with masking tape to prep for grout application.

22. Spread the grout in a figure eight pattern over the entire surface of the mosaic using a kitchen sponge.

23. After the surface is covered and all areas are totally filled in with grout, skim off the excess grout with the sponge.

24. Let the grout set for 20 minutes or until a haze forms over the surface.

25. Using a soft cloth, buff the entire surface to remove the film from the tile surfaces. Repeat several times until the haze is completely gone.

26. Tile sealer can be applied to the entire face mosaic after the grout dries for 48 hours.

27. To prepare the frame for hanging on a wall drill a small hole on each side of the back of the frame, one third of the height of the frame down from the top. Screw eyehooks into the holes. Cut picture-hanging wire (per weight test) at a length 50 percent longer than the width of the frame. Tie wire around the eyehooks wrapping the excess wire around itself.

Rhoda Kahler LOVES making mosaics and working with tile! She’s filled her house with it — on floors, in the kitchen, in bathrooms and even in a sink. And because the wall hangings are portable, her work can be seen outside her house as well.


Advertisement will not be printed