Being a butter fingers ensures I have a ready supply of broken cups around me all the time. But being creative and thrifty also means that I don't really toss a broken cup into the trash all that easily.
Much as I'm a hoarder and save pretty much everything for a "rainy day", this habit of mine came through when I created this stunning mosaic table top from pieces of broken cups that used to be my favourite tea mugs. And mind you this was my first-ever mosaic project, if you can call it that.
So today, I'll share my broken mug to mosaic table DIY process because I'm sure you have tons of broken cups too and not only is it amazing to be able to save your favourite pieces of crockery, it's also a sustainable and ecofriendly habit to be to transform our trash into treasure! If not, start breaking them today just like this Greek tradition of smashing plates as a celebration!
So here's a step-by-step process of turning your broken mugs into mosaic projects
which could be table tops, trays, and so much more. Once you get the hang of it, let your imagination run wild!
Raw materials you need:
Broken pieces of ceramic. Usually 3-4 cups will make a 12-15" surface
A wooden, flat surface like a table top or tray
An adhesive like Fevicol
1 kg white cement
Step-by-step process of turning broken mugs into mosaic
Ideally, the prettier the original ceramic was to begin with, the prettier will be the final product! Luckily for me, I had 4-5 pieces of the same mug which had unfortunately crashed and cracked at different periods of time but instead of throwing them right away, I'd been using them as penholder, plant propagators and what not. But when enough was enough and I had 3 of these, I decided to take things in my own hands and with my own 2 hands, I cracked them some more.
Step 2: Crush them into even bits
Not all cups that are broken do it in equal splinters and shards. Some are cracked, some just lose their handles and so on. But for a mosaic project, you need uniform sized, flat pieces of ceramic. So collect your broken mugs and get pounding! I used a thick oven mitt to sound-proof the action as well as not crush them into a powder.
Step 3: Prepare your surface
Next thing you'll need is a flat surface which will be the base of whatever it is you want to create, in this case a table top. I used a dilapidated old wooden side table that had been lying in despair for years. Its wood was chipping off and fading making it a perfect candidate to be transformed. I gave it a good wipe and dry.
Step 4: Arrange your broken bits into the pattern you want
This part is important as you need to have a pattern in mind to be able to stick it in. I didn't really have the patience or the different colours of ceramic to create an elaborate design. Besides, it was my first ever mosaic project so I wasn't even sure if it was going to work so I went freestyle with mine and simply spread the broken bits of the ex-mug on the table top somewhat equi-distance. A little variation here and there doesn't matter.
Step 5: Stick the pieces down on the prepared surface
Now, by now you've figured that the broken pieces of ceramic are going to be stuck on the surface. We'll come back to this putty. For now, begin by sticking all the broken bits on to your clean and dried surface one by one. This step is very important as you'll learn later!
Step 6: Prepare your filling putty
Right now, what you have is a table top with pieces of ceramic sticking out of it! Doesn't look anything like a usable, functional table right? Here's where the magical filling putty comes in!
This putty is necessary in any mosaic project to serve as the bind between the surface and the ceramic and create one solid and even flat base to be used as a table. For this, prepare a paste-like material consisting of 2 parts of White Cement which is easily available in Hardware stores (As an aside, I freakin' love hardware stores, it's like my Zara!) and 1 part water. Stir it well until it's like a toothpaste like consistently.
Now without thinking much, just slather this paste all over the table top including on top of the mosaic, letting it sink into the gaps between the pieces as it goes. Don't worry about it. It'll all be okay in a bit. Continue doing this until there's no gaps left and the entire surface looks covered in this weird white goo.
Step 7: Shave off the excess putty
Within minutes of applying the putty, using a flat tool like a dough scraper, scrape off the excess putty as if to create a flat surface.
Step 8: Wash and wipe the table top
Once the putty is dried off (leave it for a few hours), you can pour copious amounts of water on top and using a dish sponge, wipe off the putty stains on top of the ceramic bits.
All the ceramic is now visible and yet submerged under a layer of this gooey cement putty and your shiny new mosaic table top is ready! To add even more finesse to the table, you can coat it with a layer of furniture polish sealant or varnish. I wanted mine to look a bit boho and rough (and I was lazy) so i let it be. It is still a bit uneven and I think it adds to the charm of it.
It does look like a lot of work and it is, but it's mostly easy and the ingredients required is next to nothing. Imagine, creating something so unique, boho and functional with something that would've simply been tossed into the trash. Now use this mosaic table turned glorious graveyard of dead mugs to enjoy your morning mug of tea in!
And if that mug breaks someday, you know what to do.
About the author: I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession.