Broken plates can be snapped into smaller shards called tesserae and sorted by color and size for pendants or mosaics. Mosaic tesserae may be adhered either directly or indirectly (the reverse method) to a dry, sturdy base; cleaned, grouted and sealed. The reverse method ensures a flat surface: uneven shards are temporarily glued to brown paper with water-based glue and then pressed into wet cement -- or "buttered" with waterproof, heat-safe adhesive -- and pressed onto a base.
Tesserae with their sharp edges sanded smooth can be transformed into trendy accessories. Pendants are made by wrapping tesserae in jeweler's wire, gluing tesserae into pendant settings or gluing jewelry-hanging apparatuses (bails) on tesserae. Earrings, necklaces, charms and bracelets are fashioned from shards drilled with a tiny diamond bit; strung with a cord, knotted string or jewelry chain; and often accompanied by beads. Tesserae-decorated wide belt buckles, buttons and brooches are sealed with resin.
A modern art mobile is built by wiring and balancing drilled broken plate shards. A plaque, framed picture, mural or sculpture needs a strong, waterproof, warp-free base. Intricate patterns or pictures should be worked out before the final drawing is transferred to the base or to the brown paper. Curvy patterns work better with the irregular shapes of broken plate tesserae. Matching the grout color is important because it enhances and defines the final design.
Projects for Outdoor Use
Drilled tesserae may be strung and hung at varied lengths, making delicate wind chimes. A garden globe, concrete garden sculpture, birdbath, house number or terra-cotta planter can be covered with broken plate shards using the direct or indirect method. A smooth stepping stone or tabletop should be covered using the indirect method. Shards need to be spaced at least one-quarter inch apart for grouting. Projects for outdoor use must be weatherproofed with waterproof sealant.
Projects for Indoor Use
Floors, furniture, tabletops, walls, cabinets and counter-tops can serve as canvases for broken plate shards. A wood, metal, plywood or fiberboard surface becomes a base for a smooth hot plate, magnet or coaster when the top side is decorated with tesserae using the reverse method. For a textural effect, tesserae can be glued or cemented directly onto the entire surface of a doorstop, vase, table centerpiece, frame, figurine, ornament, box top, platter or heavy dish.
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