Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Anatomy of a Glass Mosaic Light Switch Cover

Click photos to enlarge.

Well, my way of putting switch plates together..

Choose a sturdy, commercially made, base to attach your mosaic to.  I now use metal bases. I have used wood in the past, but had problems with warping during grouting, especially for the larger sizes (yup, wood and water don't don't play nice together). And I feel the plastic covers have a bit too much flex, at least the ones my sources carry.

Attach your design with your favorite glue- Weldbond, silicone...

Grout! Such a simple, yet critical step.

  • Color choice is key. If you are going to add a resin coat, like I do for all mine, you need to base your selection on the wet grout color. Photo at left shows the cured grout color. Looks kind of blah and washed out this way but, when covered in resin, it will revert back to the beautiful contrasts of the wet grout color.
  • If you use glass for your design, use fine grit sandpaper on all exposed edges before grouting.
  • Use wood toothpick, or similar tool, to gently recess the screw hole and to shape the switch or outlet openings. It's got to fit in its new home!
  • Properly cure the grout before adding resin.

To protect fingers from sharp edges, and to protect grout from finger oils, all my switch plates receive a top coat of a two part resin epoxy. Quite a messy step, and a bit time consuming, but well worth it.
  • Read the directions for the resin carefully before you begin and follow them exactly.
  • Choose all disposable materials for mixing and stirring and be sure you cover your work surface!!
  • Also, be sure to elevate your project so the excess resin has a place to run off onto. I use a cardboard cylinder or large plastic cups.

Final step- for a complete pulled together look, custom color your screws.

My mosaic art on Etsy:

I make sterling silver jewelry too!!


Mo said...

I have long admired your very cool, and very shiny, switch plate covers. Great tips —— thanks for sharing the process! What type of paint do you use to match the screws to the plates that doesn't flake off when a screw driver is used on it?

Linda Pieroth Smith said...

Thank you Mo!
I have used spray paint and, lately, I've used enamel paint sold for model painting. Came in a set of basic colors that make color matching easy. But, not everyone takes care with tools, so I cannot say it is a perfect system. Tip- use pointed tool to make holes in cardboard to stand the screws in while painting.

charlotte said...

I just found your site!! :) Thanks for sharing your processes. Your work is amazing!!

Linda Pieroth Smith said...

Thank you Charlotte :)

Petuni8 said...

I just discovered your site and I love this look!
I'm wondering if I could use resin epoxy on my current piece.
I am using MDF which I have primed. Would resin work on this?

Linda Pieroth Smith said...

The difficulty I had with wood was during the grouting phase and priming should help with that. In addition, MDF is more stable for mosaicing than solid wood and I use it a lot myself.