Monday, March 9, 2009

Cardboard Mosaics

I'm starting mosaics with Grade 3. This is our first project. Not really a true mosaic but a good starting point for them.

The idea for this came up while my daughter was doing a book report. She was reading "Chasing Vermeer" and for the project component she made a set of Pentominoes.
Afterwards we had a lot of 1"x1" cardboard pieces.........inspiration strikes.

Materials Required:

corrugated cardboard
cardboard for your base...I used the back from a notepad
acrylic paint
crackle medium (optional)

Cut your corrugated cardboard into 1"x1" squares. They don't have to be perfect.

In fact they look better a bit off...

My daughter had traced out a grid on a big piece first.

Take your base cardboard and paint it black or some other dark color. This will be your grout color.

Let dry.

Glue the squares onto your base cardboard leaving space in between.

Paint white. Draw on your picture. I outlined mine in black so you can see it here.

Paint in your design. Use bright colors as we will be putting on a dark wash to antique it later.

When you have painted it the way you want let dry.

I then painted the surface with crackle medium. This is optional. I wanted a crackle finish to the tiles and we have some of this medium at school but you can leave this out if you want.
Let dry.

Using some very watered down paint that matches your grout color, apply a light wash.
This ages your piece making it look like some ancient mosaic you found on your travels.
Let dry.

That's it. Pretty straight forward and it will get my Grade 3's thinking about tiles and mosaics. A good lead into our second project eggshell mosaics, but that will be next time.

Give it a try and I'll see you next time.


  1. I am curious- Are you an art teacher in a scool system? I guess I could look at your profile again, but if you are, do you have to follow a set curriculum with your kids? I think these youngsters are pretty lucky to have you as their teacher- wherever it is that you teach. I really like the projects you do with them.

  2. wow- please excuse the spelling/typos of my previous comment!

  3. supplies overflowing: I am an art teacher at the local school where my 3 kids attend. I do this on a volunteer basis as there is no budget for an art teacher. There is a growing trend of parent/volunteer led art programs in schools across North America.
    The curriculum at the elementary level is fairly open only addressing some basic concepts in form and composition.
    I try to focus on techniques that the kids may not have been exposed to before, usually "messy" ones that require someone like me to do the prep and the clean-up.
    It is my passion and I absolutely love watching those kids develop into well rounded artists. As well, I find I need exposure to this creative energy as it feeds into my own work.
    I started off only one day a week but I'm pretty much fulltime now, (they even gave me my own parking spot this year).
    Thanks for your interest and comments I truly appreciate them.

  4. Thanks for your reply. These kids (and school)are very lucky to have you- I know that if our school system here (NJ) didn't have an art program, I would be upset. The exposure of art, along with gym (down to one day a week over here) music (once threatened at the high school level) etc. helps to make well-rounded indiviuals-
    ps- the eggshell project looks like fun, too!

  5. Hi Gail, I assist in a K-2 enrichment program at my local school, and the instructor and I came across your great idea of cutting mortar board for each student to paint on, making clean-up easier. I'm trying to find your dimensions on your website but am not having any luck. Can you guide me!!! Thank you! my email address is

  6. You proboly tryed this alreay, but i did a group project with my 1st grade and my 7th it is a grid project. I chose an image and divided it into squares. On the back of each square i had a number, Each student got a square and a bigger blank square. Each student was to draw what they saw on their smaller sqaure to the bigger sqaure. Once everyone was done we put it together. It was so much fun and both grades did a good job. I used carbon paper to help out the first graders. 7th grade did amazing. if you would like to see it let me know
    Thanks so much for your creativity and all that you do for the students as a volenteer : )