Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

For Mother's Day for my mommy, I mail ordered some Ft. Laramie everbearing strawberry plants.  She was unable to find any locally.  Mother is never easy to shop for so I was so glad when she mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she was struggling to locate this variety.

For Mother's Day for Other Half's mother, I bought a garden bench/kneeler since she recently had knee surgery.  Upright it's a bench; turn it over and it has a soft cushion to put your knees on.  O.H.M. (Other Half's Mother) loves to work outside but being unable to squat or kneel down was hampering her from her usual Springtime gardening.  Unfortunately, she isn't able to use it but we got a good laugh about why:  She's about 5'2" tall and when sitting on the bench, she couldn't get the leverage to bend down to reach the ground.  She said, "I'm sorry I have such short legs!"

The other thing I had in mind was a tile top table for their family's new deck that was installed a couple of months ago.  As soon as the deck was finished, O.H.M. remarked how she'd like a little tile top table to put by her chair to set her tea on.  I tried to find one for her birthday in February, but after looking at seven different places, the only ones I found were at Pier 1 and they were crazy expensive and not even her taste.  I told her about the quest and apologized for not finding a table and told her I'd just make her one sometime.  That day, I went to what's left of a dilapidated log cabin on one of Other Half's properties and scavenged a few colorful dishes to eventually break for the mosaic top.

Wednesday, I went to Lowe's and purchased some cedar 1"x2" and 1"x4" to make her table.  I already had everything else at home.  After looking online and not finding any suitable plans for a small mosaic-top table, I decided to come up with my own and just let it take shape as I worked.  What I ended up with was a 24" tall, 15" square (inside measurement) side table with a bottom shelf.  A piece of HardieBacker is recessed in the top, with caulk around those four seams as well as on the inside rim of the cedar, to prevent it from absorbing water from the mortar.  It took about 2.5 to 3 hours to make.

Last night I broke some of the dishes with a hammer, using tile nippers to make more uniform shapes.  I had no idea where the design was going, other than I knew I wanted the light green as corner accents.  Looking at the pieces I had and just letting the design fall into place, here's what I came up with.  The white pieces are the parts of a two-color saucer and the outside of the coffee cups; the aqua was the inside color of the cups.  Cobalt blue was a solid color saucer and the few blue/white pieces are from a "flow blue" type saucer.  I laid out the pattern on the floor beforehand.

This is the first mosaic anything I've ever done so I had to guess what to do.  Using masking tape, I taped off the rim of the table, then mixed and troweled the mortar onto the HardieBacker, then pressed each dish piece into it.  To make sure finished design was even, level and set, I used a leftover piece of cedar as a screed, carefully pressing down from edge to edge.  The design and tiling process also took about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Checking it this morning, the tiles were set and the mortar was still cool to the touch.  Since it's 1/2" thick, I'll let it set until tomorrow before grouting any gaps.  The final step will be sealing the grout after it sets for three days.

I'm going to leave the wood "naked" to see how O.H.M. wants to finish the table after she sees it, and oil or poly it for her.

Total cost:  $19.90.  That's cheaper than the bench I originally bought!

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