tile work 3

I finished putting together my son, Marc’s quilt top and back. Just need to pack them up to mail to my friend, Louise, who is going to quilt it for me. I’ll wait to post photos of the finished quilt once I have it back from Ontario. (no pressure, Louise) Actually, the only pressure is for the quilt to be finished this year, as I dated the back and I certainly wouldn’t want to change that!

Today I went to my off-site studio to do some printing, and it was not a successful day. I won’t bore you with the tedious and annoying details. I did learn a few things and will be able to get some work done during the week. So in the spirit of remaining creative, I’ll share another of my mosaic tile projects – the front of our house. We live in a split level house, and the wall treatment around the living room windows was stucco. Can you believe it? Plain and boring old stucco. After the successful completion of the tile project on the side of the house, I was ready for the street side. (You can look at that wall in this post, and this post, if you missed it.) This was back in 2004, (before I started blogging) when I was still fairly new to tiling, but I’ve always loved a good “project”. This one took me all summer. Let me try to explain how I worked.

Once I had decided on color, I set about buying all the cobalt blue tile I could find. I still had some from the side wall, but I needed more, more, more! Since I build my projects like I’m creating a giant jig saw puzzle, it is almost impossible to estimate the amount of square footage I should start with. Besides that, I’m really bad with numbers. While my friend, Norm, was busy putting a skim coat of cement over the stucco, I started cutting up tiles into interesting shapes. We had set up a beautiful work area in the front patio area of the house, adjacent to where I would be tiling. I measured the wall, and then just started laying out pieces, cutting and sanding as I went to try to establish even grout spaces between the pieces. I worked on sections of plastic corrugated board – lightweight, strong and not damaged by water. I worked in sections about 2″ square, and when I had several ready, I covered them with brown paper that had been coated with diluted white glue. They were left to dry.

my workshop section 2 section 1 section 3 tile covered in paper sections on the wall puzzle sections more puzzle work

Once dry, I could coat an area of the cement coated wall with thin-set and put the tile section up on the wall. I had to hold things for a few minutes till the thin-set would hold it on its own. Then things were left overnight to dry. When I was certain everything was ready, I wet the brown paper and pulled it off of the tile. Sometimes a tile would have shifted and be too close to another tile, so I would chip it out and reset it. Can you say tedious? When several sections were installed, I put paper over the wall and drew a pattern of the remaining spaces, and then started the process again working on my new templates. It’s a really good thing that I love jig saw puzzles. Really good.

nearly done grouting after grouting detail

After weeks of work, all the tile was in place. I grouted the wall with black grout. I love the look of the black with the blue and yellow tile, but it is really “dirty” to work with. I was so glad when that was done! Whew, I’m exhausted just trying to explain all of this. I’m sure there must be a more efficient way to work large projects, and I did become more proficient as time went on. More to come in future installments. Have a great week!

11 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this process, Terri. I’ve wanted to create a salmon run design for going up three levels of stairs for about four years…so, I hope that this will inspire the process! Looks awesome!

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