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Are you a tile-o-phile? Mad about mosaics? Never fear, mosaics are back! Everywhere you look, items are being tiled. But, none of these are conventional materials, designs or surfaces. This centuries-old art form has undergone an amazing transformation: the traditional has met the contemporary.

Sure, you can still tile a floor, a wall or even a trivet. But for real impact, try covering the top of your breakfast table and the seats of the chairs or stools. Kitchen countertops lend themselves beautifully, as the tiles are decorative and functional. Or, be bold and create a mosaic design on the smooth, exposed sides of the cabinets. A dining room buffet cabinet or a coffee table topped with tiles makes for an unusual conversation piece. In the office, a desktop decorated with mosaics adds some color and texture, and in the bedroom, mosaic lamps are a warm accent. You don’t have to invest a lot to enjoy the beauty of mosaics. Small, tiled picture frames, mirrors and candles strategically positioned throughout your home will do the trick.

Mosaic crafts are wonderful outdoors, also. A tiled birdbath is a spectacular focal point near the front entrance. Cover the top of a picnic table and watch your next barbecue come alive. If you’re really ambitious, tile a short walkway in the backyard or create a colorful border around the patio. Cover terra cotta flowerpots for some color below the stems. Even a mosaic sign with your house number makes quite a statement.

The best part of tiling is that you can do it yourself. With a few simple materials and some interesting tiles, you can easily create a work of art comparable to items sold in department stores, specialty shops, boutiques and galleries. Take a worn piece of furniture, cover it in tiles, and the transformation is amazing!

Mosaic tiles may be found at flooring stores (be sure to ask for leftover pieces) or craft stores. Specialty shops carry unusual tiling materials, including marbles, glass or china, which create a three-dimensional look. This type of store is the best place to purchase broken glass and china pieces, because they use a process called “tumbling” to remove sharp edges. Mosaic galleries offer classes in tiling in addition to selling finished pieces. Patrons may also walk in and make their own beginner level piece at a studio worktable, under the guidance of an employee. These shops are also becoming popular sites for birthday parties and bachelorette gatherings.

Specialty shops can furnish all of the tools necessary for making your own mosaics, but for the best deal, shop the local hardware store or home improvement center for support supplies. You’ll need enough ceramic tile adhesive or “mastic” to secure the tile pieces to the surface being covered. Attach the tiles and let dry overnight before applying grout. Sanded floor grout comes in powder form and is available in many colors. Add 3 tablespoons of water to each half cup of grout and mix. If the grout is too thick, add drops of water until it reaches the consistency of oatmeal. Spread the prepared grout over the mosaic pieces and fill all of the spaces between the tiles. After the grout begins to set (approximately 10 minutes), gently wipe off the excess from the tiles. Allow the grout to dry and then buff with a soft cloth.

Be creative and try unusual color, shape and texture combinations. For a unique twist, attach one half of a teacup, handle side up, to your project. Layer tiles and try different colored grouts. But beware! Mosaics are addicting. Because this is an easy art form with impressive results, you may find yourself tiling everything in sight. That’s all right, because with mosaics, you add beauty to your surroundings. So, sit down, roll up your sleeves and tile a while.