A rusty old table gets a facelift

My second project was, again, a table. This particular table had lived most of its life at my family’s cottage, and had consequently taken a bit of a beating from the elements. The legs were rusty and housed a good number of spiders, and the top was, well, the top was just plain ugly. In his travels, my dad had found a piece of glass that was the perfect size to replace the existing top. Voila! I was in business!

Since I was still in school at the time, the piece took a while – I worked at it when I was bored and/or fed up with reading, writing, or arithmetic (I was a stats TA at the time, so yes, this last one holds true). The first bit I glued down was the swirly burst-like thingy that’s slightly offset from the middle, and after that the table just kind of developed on its own. Grouting was, again, not fun, especially because the table didn’t have a lip around the edge. It would seem that I have not yet learned my lesson, as many of my projects since then have been done on lipless bases – I must be a glutton for punishment.

Once my partner and I moved in together, we seemed to have a bit of an over-abundance of coffee tables (3 in a 1-bedroom apartment is a bit excessive), but I still can’t bring myself to get rid of this one. I like the way the light passes through this table, kind of like a stained glass window only more practical, because you can put magazines and coffee mugs on it.

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The table that started it all…

My first mosaic was a rather big project for a beginner: an Ikea coffee table that I wanted to jazz up. But before I could even begin, I hit a snag: the table resided with my partner, in Toronto, but I was an hour away in Kitchener. How to get the table without her noticing? (This was for a gift, after all, so it needed to be a surprise.) Kidnapping the table, even if accompanied by all-black attire, stealth moves, and the Mission Impossible theme, was out of the question. Since I couldn’t bring the table to the mosaic, I had to find a way to bring the mosaic to the table. The solution: daddy. My dad’s quite the genius when it comes to being handy, so I got him to make this nifty little wooden box-like cover that slid perfectly over the tabletop. Problem solved! I could work on the mosaic in Kitchener, and then transport it to Toronto once it was finished.

After finding a suitable design courtesy of the Internet (a Mayan-looking quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala), I got started. Being deathly afraid of my mom’s glass cutter, I played with her scraps as if they were a jigsaw puzzle and fit them into the design I had laid out. Mom was nice enough to cut the border for me, as well as 3 or 4 pieces that were cut to fit when I had really backed myself into a corner. Due to my inexperience, the mosaic progressed slowly. Thank goodness for good music and trashy TV! After finally glueing down the last piece, I thought I was in the clear. But alas, grouting proved to more of a pain in the ass than I had anticipated. Smushing the goop into the grooves, wiping the tiles, misting the whole thing, water-proofing it, and then finally polishing it…man, did I ever hate grouting. Still do, actually. But my patience paid off and the finished product ended up being pretty nice. Ever since then, despite the hours and hours and hours spent painstakingly putting the design together and then cleaning it all up, I’ve been hooked on mosaics.

quetzal table

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