It seems we have Mr. Richard Cadbury to thank for introducing the first heart shaped chocolate box, unveiled back in February, 1861. These boxes became all the rage, and their much admired lid designs made them popular for storing household items once the chocolates ran out. In keeping with that tradition, here’s a little project to help children make their own mosaic heart box, for storing their chocolates and treasures.
- hard surface to make mosaic heart e.g. tin or wooden box, piece of wood
- Weldbond Adhesive
- small, flat paintbrush to apply adhesive
- old plastic container and mixing tool for the grout
- pair of latex gloves
- mosaic tiles
- additional items such as beads, buttons, polymer clay designs, etc.
- safety glasses
- dual wheeled nippers
- cardboard box e.g. shoe box
- sponge and bowl for water
- cotton cloth eg. part of an old t-shirt
- toothpick or wooden skewer
1. First, you’ll need to find a heart shaped box or a plain box to make your own heart on. Make sure the box is made out of something hard like wood, tin, or plastic. Cardboard won’t hold up to the water in the grout. Dollar stores are great places to find these kind of boxes, and is where we found ours.
2. To make the heart, collect hard objects that can withstand grout going on top. We used a combination of tesserae tiles (Venetian glass) found in craft stores, buttons, heart shaped jewels and magnets, polymer clay decorations, etc.
3. Making the heart requires fitting all the pieces together with just a small amount of space left between them for the grout. It’s a bit like making a puzzle. If you’re making your own heart design rather than covering a heart shaped lid, make sure to use contrasting colours to surround it and fill in the rest of the surface, otherwise the heart won’t stand out.
If working with older children, you can go ahead and cut some of the tesserae tiles to help fill in the spaces. Cutting involves using a tile cutter like a dual wheeled nipper. It can take several cuts to obtain the shape you require, and this will improve with practice. Cutting inside a shoe box is a great way to contain the small pieces of cut glass, and do wear safety glasses since small pieces can fly out.
4. You can either glue pieces in place as you go along, or lay everything out first and then glue. The easiest way to apple adhesive is to use a small, inexpensive flat brush. I recommend using Weldbond, which is stronger than white glue. Remember to apply glue to the back of tiles – the side with ridges. Once all the objects have been glued down, allow to dry for 24 hours before grouting. Your heart design can also be enjoyed without grout, in which case you would be done.
5. If adding grout, the amount you need depends on the size of the box. Prepare it by placing the grout in an old plastic container and adding small amounts of water at a time, while mixing together. The grout should be the consistency of peanut butter, so not too wet. With a glove on one hand, scoop up small amounts of grout and apply on top of the tiles/objects. Press it well into the spaces, and remove any excess. Some corners of the tiles will be more raised than others, so be careful not to cut yourself. Also, make sure to fill in the edges/borders well.
Once grout has been applied everywhere, and all the excess has been removed, allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes, enabling it to partially set. Then use a damp sponge to gently wipe the tiles/objects to clean them. Be careful not to press too hard into the spaces where the grout is, or you will remove it. Keep rinsing the sponge in a bowl of clean water, making sure to squeeze out any excess, and continue until the tiles look clean. Do not pour excess grout or water with grout down the drain. It is a fine cement-based product that solidifies, and must be diposed of outside, or in the garbage.
6. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours. Use an old cotton cloth (eg. old t-shirt) to give the tiles a final polishing. You can add a tiny bit of water if necessary. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to gently remove grout which gets stuck where it shouldn’t be.
If you would like to do this project with young children, simply skip the tile cutting and grouting parts. Have them collect a variety of items to create their heart shape. This time, they don’t need to be able to withstand any grout , and can include small squares of paper, pompoms, etc.