Tile Tree Mosaic Art

14 Days

I'm going to let you guys in on a little secret and share how I make my mosaic art! It's much easier than it looks. It's an art project that does take several hours to complete, depending on how many tiles you choose to use for your image, but the end result is something one-of-a-kind!
I actually entered this piece in the 2014 ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, MI. I currently have a new mosaic in this year's ArtPrize as well - a new mosaic with a new theme. While I've perfected my technique and developed a signature style, this type of art is something that anyone can make with a little bit of practice and patience.
Bathroom tile can be anything BUT ordinary with these instructions!
First, start with a photo or image that you love. For this piece, I used a photo that I just snappe on my iPhone one day of a tree I used to pass on my daily commute. I have always loved this big, beautiful tree.
With some graphic design tweaks, I enhanced the silhouette and changed the background's colors. This step is something you can hire a graphic designer for, or follow your own vision if you're well-versed in software like Photoshop. I divided the photo into 1/4's so it would suit my 14x20 inch size, and printed each panel in multiple colors. I printed it right on my home printer!
You can use just one color scheme, but I mixed and matched the tiles. Mixing and matching will mean you need to cut the paper to fit the tiles exactly the same on each photo, so for your first try, you may wish to stick with just one color scheme.
I then decoupaged the pieces of the photographs onto ceramic tile - though I've since discovered that glass tile works even better for this project. Both types of tile can be found for about $10 a square foot in your local home improvement store's bathroom department.
I trimmed all the excess paper off from around each tile, so that the photo paper fit each tile perfectly. It's a tedious task but it's what makes the piece look polished. I worked on this piece for an hour or two every night for a couple of weeks.
When the tiles were all prepared, I used several coats (4 or 5?) of a triple-thick spray gloss glaze. Each coat requires 24 hours to dry in between. At this point, the tiles are all still attached to the mesh backing that you would typically cover with grout if you were using the tile for backsplash.
Finally, I peeled each tile off the mesh backing, and mounted it on a painted wood background. My mosaic was 14 x 20 tiles (1 inch each) and I mounted them on a 18x24 piece of wood with heavy-duty adhesive.
When it was all finished, the image finally came together! I used hues of green (to match my living room) and purple (just because I liked it). The piece conveys light and the rising sun in the colors I used when re-assembling it.
This is my 2015 mosaic, mounted on glass tile, and using just one image instead of mixing and matching. I used the same procedure to create and glaze the tiles, though!
If you want a little more back story on why I chose this image, I have a short video to share. Be sure to stop by the post link at the bottom to read more about my ArtPrize experience and thoughts!

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Adrianne Surian

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Teri
    on Aug 14, 2017

    I'm a tree lover myself and your piece is beautiful. Did you buy different colored tile for this? And when you say glass tile works best I'm not sure just what you mean?
    • Karen
      on Nov 8, 2018

      Tile made out of glass as opposed to tiles made out of ceramic, etc.

  • Bonnie
    on Sep 29, 2017

    What kind of paper did you use? Photo paper, card stock, copy paper? Where would you find glass tile squares on mesh like the ceramic ones? Thanks.
    • Suzann
      on Jan 10, 2019

      You can find glass tile squares at any time store as well as the big box warehouse stores like Home Depot or Lowes. They cost more but are definitely worth it.

  • Susan
    on Jan 17, 2019

    Can you attach the mesh and all, and just paint the mesh? Or grout? It is a little confusing as to whether you cut each tile then trimmed, or laid the four pieces of paper then trimmed.

    • Kathy
      on Apr 24, 2019

      When you buy these tiles at Lowes or HD the little tiles are already cut and are stuck to the mesh. She said she peeled them off and glued them to a piece of wood. You can buy them in ceramic or glass. Usually people use these for backsplash but this is very unique and beautiful

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