We love to mosaic with broken china. Each little piece of broken china is like a little decorated gem. And collecting the china at thrift stores and flea markets is half the fun!
Breaking china into pieces to use in your mosaics might seem daunting, but once you see how it’s done, you’ll be eager to try. The cutting tool really does most of the work and the rest of the work is worth it!
Every time we go to the flea market , we keep an eye out for pieces of china. We looked for pretty plates and dishes with flowers and designs around the outside edge. We also look for inexpensive knick-knacks with little porcelain roses. (They remind us of birthday cake flowers made out of china.) We love to embed them in our mosaics.
Let us know if you make a mosaic with broken china. We’d love to hear about it!
Jennifer & Kitty
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How To Mosaic With Broken China
3 terra cotta pots, 4″ diameter
Spray paint, white
5-7 china plates
China knick-knacks with 3 roses
1 lb. sanded grout, white
8 oz. mosaic grout sealer
Permanent craft adhesive glue (choose a viscous and fast-drying glue)
Tools & Supplies
*We have both tools and use the nippers to get big cuts and the wheel cutters for more precise cutting.
Latex or nitrile gloves
Disposable mixing container
Wooden stir stick
Face mask (optional)
Cup for water
Pail for rinsing sponge
Step 1. Use The Tile Nippers To Break The China Into Tiles
Don your leather gloves and glasses and place a plate inside a zipper bag. (This is to catch and contain any sharp little chards.) Use the tile nippers or wheel cutters inside the bag. Grip the edge of the plate with the tile nipper blades perpendicular to the edge of the plate. The nippers only need to cut ¼” to ½” into the plate.
Squeeze the nippers onto the china. They will create a crack and break the china into two pieces.
Repeat the process to cut the larger pieces of china into smaller tiles. We tried to create tiles around ½” square (although none ended up square). We created about 90-100 cut tiles per pot. So we cut a lot!
Here’s a video we made to show how to cut a china plate with both tile nippers and wheel cutters. (We were making a different project, but the technique is the same.)
Step 2. Use The Chisel To Break Off The Roses
To chisel the roses off your little knick-knacks, fold a piece of bubble wrap and cover it with a rag. Don your safety gloves and glasses. Set the knick-knack onto the towel. Place the chisel edge under the edge of a rose. Strike the end of the chisel with the hammer. It may take more than one blow. (We broke the petals of one of our roses, but we glued them back on when we put it on the mosaic. No one is the wiser!)
Step 3. Glue The China Tiles To The Pots
Paint the pots, including the inside lip, and let them dry.
This next part is like doing a puzzle, so we like to start by laying out all our tiles on the table face up.
We start by gluing a rose to the front of a pot. Next select tiles to tuck under the rose and attach them with a dab of glue on the back of each tile. Leave about 1/8? between each tile for the grout. Choose tiles with straight edges for the bottom and top of the mosaic. Fill in the spaces by scanning your table full of tiles for the right shape. If you can’t find one, use your cutters to create the perfect tile (be sure to put your safety gloves and glasses back on!). Repeat to mosaic the other two pots.
Step 4. Mix Up The Grout
Wear a mask (if desired) and put on your latex-type gloves. Mix half the grout package according to the directions on the label. (Ours took one part water to seven parts grout, so we used a little more than one ounce of water for half the 16-ounce bag.) Add less water than you need at first. Stir and add more water if the mixture is too dry. Mix until the grout is the consistency of natural peanut butter. The grout stays workable for about 15 minutes, so be ready to grout the mosaic before you mix the grout.
Step 5. Spread The Grout Onto the Tiles
Spread the grout onto the surface of the mosaic pot right over the china pieces.
Use a damp sponge or putty knife to spread the grout around all the china pieces and roses. Make sure the top edge and bottom edge of the mosaic are grouted.
As you are finishing, go over the pot with a damp sponge lightly cleaning the grout off the tiles without removing the grout from between the tiles. Clean the lip of the pot with a damp sponge to remove any grout before it sets up. Repeat to grout each pot, mixing up more grout as needed. Let dry for 30 minutes.
Step 6. Buff The Tiles Clean
After 30 minutes, use a paper towel or damp sponge to wipe the grout haze off the china pieces. Be careful not to remove the grout from between the tiles. Wait another 30 minutes and buff the haze again. Repeat if necessary.
Step 7. Seal The Mosaic
Let the grout dry for 24 hours, then seal the surface of the tiles and grout with grout sealer and a paintbrush. Let dry. (Sealant makes the mosaic water resistant, but not waterproof.) Now plant a trio of succulents and sit back and enjoy your little garden!