Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grouting a Mosaic Tutorial

I did a piece on my blog not long ago on how I composed a mosaic, but I never really touched on grouting it so I thought I would share that now.
I suppose everyone has their own way of grouting, but the end result is the same. Here is how I grout a mosaic.

The first step is to gather all the supplies you will need throughout the process as it becomes terribly messy and you don't want to traipse around looking for something later.
I always have 2 buckets (one for grout and one for water), a spatula or wooden spoon for stirring your grout, plenty of sponges, rags, 2 surgical gloves (it's what I use because you can throw them away), water spritzer, mask( again, I use the surgical ones because you can toss it out).

The next step is to get your grout mixed. This is where the mask comes in handy as the powder from the grout can go everywhere. I am using "charcoal" straight from the box so there isn't any custom mixing here. I use the sanded grout as I think it sets better and looks nicer when completed. You mix what you think you will use, but if there isn't enough it isn't a problem to just mix more. If it were a custom blend, then you will need to make plenty the first go around as the chances of mixing the exact blend a second time is nearly impossible. Ad just enough water to give it a consistency of smooth mud. It should not pour easily.
This is the piece I have chosen to grout. I always put a lazy susan underneath it so that I can not only turn it but it keeps it up and off the newspaper and I can get to the edges better.

After letting the grout "set" for 10 minutes (keeps it from cracking later), then I start to smooth it over my piece with my hands so that I can get it into all the nooks and crannies. I feel like I have a better control this way.

Here it is all grouted. Lovely, huh? I leave it like this for about 10 minutes or less then start to take most of it back off with a sponge and water.

This step is probably the messiest of all, especially if you are using dark colored grout. I keep a bucket of clean water handy and just keep rinsing the sponge and cleaning it off. It took 6 buckets of clean water for me to get to the next step.

Here it is mostly cleaned off. I leave it now for another 15 minutes or so and then continue to keep cleaning it off. The reason I do this instead of waiting until it is mostly dry is so that I can get the grout smooth in between each piece and especially around jewelry, gems or anything bulky. If you wait too long it gets clumpy and more difficult to get off.

This is now clean enough to "set" until it is dry. I spritz it with water about every 20 minutes to keep it from cracking. I probably do this about 4 to 5 times during the drying process. You can also put it inside a trash bag and seal it off and let it dry slower to prevent cracks, but I like to see what it is doing. The spritzed water also keeps the grout looking smooth.
I just use any bottle I have around that will give a lite mist of water. You don't want to drench the thing. I will give it most of the day to dry, but I usually go around with a toothpick and clean any excess grout off my tiles and around the gems. If you wait until it is completely dry you can create a small crevice in the grout and there isn't much you can do except add more grout. When it is still damp you can spritz it and it will run back together making it smooth.

That is all there is to it. I will put up the finished piece tomorrow so you can see the final product. I have another piece I am grouting in the charcoal so I will show that one as well.


Mystic Silks said...

WOW! I finally made it----this is an awesome work
of art--So much work involved. You wonder if people really realize what it takes to create a piece like this.

I ask myself that question everytime I am working on my silk scarves or paintings--:)

JS Glass Art said...

Very interesting! I love seeing how other art is made.

Audrey said...

WOW!! That's a lot of work! LOVE you newest item!!

Kristina said...

Thanks for the tutorial. This piece is wonderful - love the yellow flower.