Sunday, September 12, 2010

Breaking China Plates for Mosaics~Tutorial

I've been asked how I break plates for creating my mosaics.  I hope you will find this helpful. Showing someone up close and personal is a lot easier than explaining through words. So bear with me on this! Keep these three things in mind...  
1.  Always wear safety glasses.

2.  Start off using a plate you aren't super crazy about.

3.  If it breaks in a place you aren't happy about remember these are mosaics and there really are no bad cuts.

                                   Breaking Plates to Save the Focal

I personally find this easier than saving the rim. You will need a pair of wheeled nippers. I bought mine on Ebay. By far the best brand is Leponnit. They are a little more expensive but worth it. I once cheaped out and bought well a cheap pair. They literally broke while cutting my third plate. I'm all for cheap, in fact my kids call me "The Cheap Mom" but there are times where you need to shell out the extra $ and this is one of them. OK back to plate breaking.

Leponnit Wheeled Nippers

Hold your nippers parallel to the inside of the rim and squeeze

Continue holding the nippers parallel to the inside rim but not under the dreaded foot of the plate. We'll get to that little sucker in a minute.
Continue nipping all the way around.

       Now you have a nice round focal but underneath is the foot of the plate which needs to be removed otherwise when you lay out your design the focal will be sitting too high. Remember the foot is not your friend! 

In order to get rid of the foot you need to place the nippers over the foot. If the foot is really high well good luck because sometimes the nippers won't open wide enough to get over it. Oh how I hate when this happens!

Just nip away the same way you did when removing the rim. Stay as close as you can to the foot in order to preserve as much of the focal as possible. You of course will be holding the plate with one hand and nipping with the other but since nobody wanted to play photographer over here one of my hands was busy holding the camera.
Here it is although a little blurry.
When it's all cut out there will be some jagged points. You can nip these away until you get it relatively smooth. If you are wondering how come some focals look so smooth well for me I take them to my glass grinder which I've had since my stained glass days which was eons ago.  
 Hope you find this helpful. I will do another tutorial on saving the rim a little later.                                                                                                                                                                    


Rhianna said...

Hi Sue, thanks, that was an awesome tutorial. Can't wait to see the one on rims. I'm defintely intrigued by this art form. Can't wait until my renos are under control so I can play with crafty stuff again.Love your work.

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I do mosaics and i would love to have a glass grinder. I use my Dremel with the grinder attachment, not quite the power of a glass grinder. Going for stained glass to mosaics must have been a natural transition. I use a lot of my salvaged roses for my mosaic projects. Thank you for stopping by.


Joy said...

This tutorial is really great! I wanted to know how to. So I think my next project will be this? I have to go to a thrift store 'n get some pretty plates. ;-)

Rebecca said...

Hi Sue, just found your blog and love your work! Your tutorial on breaking china is great. How would you break ceramic pottery? I have(oopps- had)a beautiful oval, ceramic glazed, flat bottom (no ridge!!!) casserole dish my husband made a hundred years ago in was partially 'broken' by accident and I could not bring myself to toss it. I would love to surprise him with a lazy susan made from the original piece. The pieces and shards are in a bin labeled "mosaic crafts". Any suggestions? Also how to smooth rough edges? I have done a bit of mosaic work. Mostly on terracotta planters for the garden. We just broke thrift store china with a hammer (in a canvas/cloth bag and tossed all the 'ridge' pieces!) We did supplement with some craft-store stained glass pieces. I used some pieces I know where too sharp- we just put lots of grout on those areas. Any advise would be appreciated. I am off to the thrift store so I won't have to built the ball-bearing lazy Susan!!! Thanks so much! I can't wait to explore your web page.


Sue@Uniquely Chic said...

Hi Sarah,

Sorry it took me forever to respond. My Mom has been visiting from FL and I have not had much time. I love the idea of turning your husbands broken treasure into something meaningful and special.
I work mostly with china but have used a few pottery type plate and I suggest you buy some nippers to trim off any unwanted sharp edges. You may not have enough pieces to cover the lazy susan so cheaply shop around (Marshalls/Home Goods)and see if you can find some complimentary colored plates. When you lay it all out on your susan use thin set mortar which you can find at HD or Lowes. Get a cheap spatula and butter the thickest piece you are using first. Place it and press. I like to use, believe it or not, my kids old blocks. When you get to the thinner pieces use the block or any long piece of wood as a level. You'll butter the thinner piece place it and then pull out the block/wood level using the thickest piece as your leveling point. I hope I am making sense here. This creates a smooth, level finish. Feel free to contact me @ and I will happily talk you through it. I tried to email you privately but couldn't. Let me know if you get this. Good luck on your perfect gift!

free2danz said...

How can I use the rim of a plate on a table top. I've noticed when cutting a plate that the inside part of the rim closest to the foot would be thicker than the outside of the rim. If I lay that on a table top it would not be very level because of the difference of thickness. Any suggestions? Thanks

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