Make a magical mosaic decoration with a secret heart…

Shhh! Don’t tell Granny & Grandad! Isabella and Toby have been making a very special mosaic decoration as a gift for them. Not just any mosaic decoration, but one with  something special on the inside…

Mosaic bauble with a secret heart...

Have a sneek peek, then maybe you can have a go too? There’s a long version (involving paper mache’!) and quick version of how to make these decorations, so you can choose. And remember, you don’t have to use mosaic tiles if you can’t get them easily. We have used glass nuggets (easily available from pound stores) and you can use beads, buttons, sequins, glitter foam….  The key here is to paint the background of the bauble black as this looks classy and dramatic when it shows through the ‘tesserae’ (tiles).

We took some polystyrene craft balls…

What can you see in the crystal ball...?!

…ripped up some paper (we used packing paper, but newspaper is fine)…

…made some glue, using the recipe from Amanda Soule’s Handmade Home. Half a cup of flour, 2 1/2 cups water, one tablespoon salt and (optional) some clove oil (I accidentally dropped half a bottle in – made for a very Christmassy smell during our making sessions!)…

…we covered the ball with some Vaseline before gluing about 4 layers of paper strips on to the ball (you don’t have to wait for each layer to dry). When dry you want it to be firm and solid…

…we carefully cut the ball open with a craft knife and took the polystyrene ball out. We then made a hanging mechanism with some wire (you can re-enforce the inside to prevent the wire from cutting through)…

…then here’s the special bit. We made some hearts with air drying clay, painted them, then wrote special notes to the recipients of the gift. These were put inside the bauble, and took a photo.

Of course, Granny & Grandad won’t see this but they will hear it and we will give them a photo of the heart & notes with their gift. That is a bit like life don’t you think? That we have to trust the love that other’s hold in their hearts for us, even when we are apart and we can’t see it…

… then we paper mache’d the two halves back together again and when dry, painted the bauble black. It was a little tricky lining up the two halves and keeping them steady so lots of grown up help may be needed here…

…now for the fun bit! We started sticking tiles and nuggets to the bauble.

The key here is to use a very tacky  glue that dries clear because you are not working on a flat surface. We use acrylic kitchen sealant (like silicone but low pong!). It is white when it comes out of the tube but dries clear.

Use a thick blob on the back of each tile so that it embeds nicely into the glue. It should not slide off. Don’t worry if some of the glue squidges out of the sides, as it dries clear. Just make sure you clean off any that goes on top of the tiles.

…I worked out a layout for the tiles and nuggets with Isabella and started her off so that the pattern coursed nicely round the bauble. If you have tile cutters, you can of course cut tiles up into smaller sizes or different shapes. The end result…rather stunning wouldn’t you agree?

You can make simpler versions of these by skipping the paper mache’ and heart bit. Just use polystyrene balls (painted black) or cheap baubles (there are some nice metallic colours available in hard plastic baubles which will show through nicely as a base colour). You can also glue straight onto polystyrene and once dry, grout the baubles with black grout like these ones….

Most importantly, have fun together!

24 Responses to “Make a magical mosaic decoration with a secret heart…”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. sherrie says:

    Wish mine was little again. I love the photos, such great concentration.
    Well done mom!

  2. Christine Schilling says:

    I love these! Your color pallette is very rich and pretty ..
    I wonder how heavy these turn out to be?
    Do you think a paperclip buried then duck taped into the paper mache would work well?
    One Tip: when I work with kids, I squeeze about 1 -2 Tbs of the caulk into the corner of a cheap small sandwhich bag. Twist the baggie at the top of the “glob” to keep all the caulk down in the corner (and kee doing this throughout). Cut a teensy (or bigger for more flow) hole in the tip – Its just like icing a cake!! It’s quite neat, and every kid gets her/his own … My Mom, who works with little ones, taught me the rhyme they say: Not A Lot, Just a Dot! .
    I love your site!

    • Concetta says:

      Hi Christine, thank you for your lovely encouraging words! They are heavy-ish! Paper clip idea is good – re-enforcement important. I know about the bag thing but have never tried, so we did and my daughter loved it!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I wonder if these would hold up well outside? I guess if you went with grout or sealed them, perhaps? I love the idea of the secret message! These would be neat for moms day, valentines…thanks!

    • Concetta says:

      Hi Rebecca, to make outdoor ones, use polystyrene as a base (not paper mache). This glue, or silicone glue or ‘thinset’ (cement tile adhesive) is good, then grout. Hope that helps!

  4. Jude says:

    I’m very tempted to have a go at the simpler ones especially – don’t think I have the patience for paper mâché!

  5. mari says:

    these are sooo cool! i love the secret message.
    would the poly styrene balls with grout stand up to cold weather? um, snow? we’re here in the NE U.S.
    thank you for the idea.

    • Concetta says:

      Hi Mari, see reply to Rebecca earlier – yes they will be ok on polystyrene – use silicone glue (dries clear and is flexible so will move with expansion / contraction of extreme weathers). You could always made a secret hollow in the polystyrene!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    OMG they are adorable…Both…the kids and the mosaic! The grandparents will be so happy and so proud also.

  7. jacqueline says:

    Dearest sweet Concetta, this is really so beautiful and i too adore the secret message! Thanks so much for sharing how to make this and the process of your photos really help lots! Your little ones are just so adorable and talented! Have a lovely merry happy week and love to you!

  8. What a fun project! Gorgeous, too!

  9. Moira says:

    those are fab! Lovely idea to have the secret messaage inside and the colours are truly wonderful. I would love to do this with my grand children!

  10. Cheryl G says:

    I absolutely love this!

  11. AG Ambroult says:

    what a sweet and special gift! You are so right…that painting the ball black first makes it look better. I never would have thought of that. Those baubles in the last picture are gorgeous too. Those would look so sweet hanging in the back yard all year long! (Are they weather resistant?)

  12. Liz says:

    Thank you for such a lovely tutorial and a great idea. The possibilities are endless.

    Definitely inspiring.

    (way behind on her reading)

  13. brenda says:

    Luv it…. I am going to do this with the granddaughters soon… they will be xmas gifts for thrir parents… and a special one from me… to them.. they wont know that…

    so glad I found U…


    • Concetta says:

      Hi Bren

      that’s so lovely – and sooo organised! Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you here again soon 😉

  14. If we wanted to do this without using the paper mache how would we hang the ornament?


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