Instructions for making a 24" x 24" outdoor mosaic mirror
You need: Mirror frame, tumbled safe recycled glass, ceramic tile adhesive, sanded grout, paint brushes, rags, mixing bucket and mixing stick
1) Use a pencil or marker to divide the mirror frame (the area around the mirror glass) into as many equal spaces as you need for your group (i.e. 6 spaces for 6 people, 15 spaces for 15 people). Number the spaces and assign each participant a number. That is the space they will create their design on.
2) Put tumbled glass in trays or bins for easy access by student artists. Have students collect glass pieces that they like for their design. Older students can lay their design out on paper before gluing if they like. Younger students are better off going directly to the glued mirror frame. This also depends on how much time you have.
3) Emphasize to students that anything they can draw or paint they can create with glass. The glass is also beautiful in abstract designs, patterns or colors. If they are trying to create a picture such as a flower or heart they should make sure that the colors of the background glass is in contrast to (is different from) the color of the main image. The mosaic work is just like creating an art puzzle. Cover the entire space with glass. Many students will take great delight in carefully piecing the shapes together. There is no wrong way to do this part of the project! (attention adults:loosen up!)
4) When the student is ready to create their design, have an older person spread the ceramic tile adhesive on their numbered space with a paintbrush (you can have several helpers doing this at the same time on different spaces).
IMPORTANT: A) Spread the adhesive as thick as you can without having it ooze up over the cracks between glass pieces. If adhesive fills the area between glass pieces the grout won't fill it and you'll get white adhesive blemishes showing up on the finished piece. B) Do your best to keep adhesive off the glass surface. It is easier to clean off when it's wet rather than scraping it off when it's dry. C) Let the adhesive dry for at least 24 hours before you grout it.
5) Have at least 3 clean rags per mirror handy if one adult is grouting. If students are grouting their individual space they'll need a couple rags each
6) In a bucket or bowl mix the sanded grout with water to the consistency of brownie dough or cake frosting.
7) Spread grout all over the area in order to fill in all the cracks and spaces between glass pieces. Yes, the glass pieces will be temporarily covered. Use circular motions to insure that air bubbles are gone and all spaces are filled. Take particular care to grout the edges so that the area between the glass and edge of frame looks finished.
8) With your clean rags start cleaning the excess grout off the glass until it looks beautiful. All cleaning must be done while the grout is still wet. Clean rag surfaces is key to this step. Let dry for 24-36 hours.
a) Put a coat of cement (masonry) sealer over your grouted area.
b) Have all the artists sign and date the back of the mirror with a permanent marker.
c) Paint the back and sides of the frame with outdoor paint.
d) Make a chart of who made what piece of the mirror and take photos of children making the mirror. Display all of this at the auction and wherever the mirror is displayed.
e) Invite as many parent helpers as possible to the making of the mirror. The more people who witness this wonderful process, the higher the demand for the mirror.
f) Make sure people know that this is a weather-resistant outdoor garden mirror.