Glass Mosaic Stepping Stones
Students will design, transfers design to cement paver, safely cut art-grade glass to shape, create permanent mosaic glass design on cement paver and secure with cement mortar and watersealer.
By Deborah Sherl [Deborah is a teaching artist at Indian Hills Elementary School in Pocatello, ID USA]
After attending a one hour class on art history and basic concepts of mosaic design, students will design, transfer design to cement paver, safely cut art-grade glass to shape, create permanent mosaic glass design on cement paver, secure with cement mortar and watersealer. (Optional: students can gift wrap and present to parent for Mother’s or Father’s Day!)
From the Author: So much more is learned during this 12 hour (broken up by 3 weeks) art event! This project is a much anticipated annual 5th grade project with twelve years now of Garden Stepping Stones going home for Mother’s Day. We do this only one time per year – with the 5th grade students – for the Annual Mother’s Day Gift! It takes some serious time and effort of many volunteer parents, teachers, custodians – everybody gets to make a STONE! It has become a tradition that parents do NOT want to allow slip away with all the other budget cuts here in our school system.
What You Need:
- Safety Eye Protection Glasses for each participant.
- One (1) Cement Paver (approx 12-16 inch diameter – hexagon if available.
- Cut & Art-Grade Sheet Glass – various colors & size pieces.
- Clean popsicle sticks – used to gauge distance of each piece of glass from the other.
- Glass Nipper tool – to be shared 1 pair for every 2-3 students.
- Design pattern/s to transfer to stone surface.
- Carbon copy paper.
- WellBond Glue for securing glass design to stone’s surface.
- Cement mortar powder form (will mix in batches with water & apply over cut glass design.)
- Glass buffing materials – soft clean cloth.
- Thompson Water Sealer – applied with brush over finished stone for weather protection. (Only after mortar is well dried – 2-3 days).
- Encouragement, Guidance, Fun & a Safety-First environment.
What You Do:
Lesson completed on mosaic art history & basic concepts of mosaic design.
SIMPLE design created/found – transfer to surface of cement paver with carbon copy paper, taped down to stone’s surface. Using heavy hand & ball point pen – carbon transfer completed.
Color plan created with various glass selection – complementary colors encouraged.
Students watch teacher DEMO glass safety precautions (as do all parent volunteers). Each does a successful return demonstration for safety first environment. Safety glasses reguired.
After color selections from bins of scrap glass as well as new sheets of art-grade glass, the detail work begins of securing pieces of glass to paver surface with WellBond glue. Each piece of glass must be at least 1/8 inch away from the next closest piece of glass in order to maintain mortar space for mosaic effect. Also – mortar will secure the glass to the paver permanently.
Design/glass gluing may take up to 4 hours – break down into 2 – 2hr sessions.
Pavers are set in a safe (large) area to dry. Wellbond will need 3-5 days to dry completely – will become totally transparent (starts out white – like Elmers glue.)
After tarping all work space – mortar powder is mixed in large buckets with proportionate water (should be mashed potato consistency) and is quickly spread by hand over entire top & side surfaces of the paver stone – OVER top of the glass design. Excess mortar is quickly squeegeed OFF. Adult volunteers and students must work quickly as the mortar is so messy & dries so fast.
Paver stone is again set aside in safe place to dry for 1 hour, then soft clean cloth is used to ‘clean’ residual mortar off of the glass surfaces. Popsicle sticks may need to be used to ‘move’ excess mortar. Glass design is buffed shiney & clean.Allow mortar to ‘cure’ for about 5 more days. 10 FINAL Step-pavers are taken outside (for ventilation purposes) and Thompson Waterseal (CLEAR COAT) is brushed over entire stepping stone paver. Two or three coats would be great. No wait time between coats. Allow to dry 1 hour, re-buff glass surfaces of mosaic design.
Optional: We then GIFT WRAP the pavers and each child adds the Mother’s Day Card they made to the outside of the wrapping. Garden Stepping Stones are taken home in time for Mother’s Day!