I never got around to testing the final tile floor pattern in the dollhouse. After looking at the pictures a few times and thinking it over, I decided I didn’t like it. It reminds me too much of a cake decorated with toothpaste.
I have no idea why I think that.
But, I do, so here I am, redoing the tile floor pattern for the Keeper’s House. In the end, I found something that I think I’m going to like better. I say “think” because while I like the new pattern, it’s created a new problem for me, one that can only be solved with mosaic tile nippers.
First, the Pattern
As a visual aid, here’s what I ultimately came up with pattern-wise during my first round of experiments.
Like I said, cake decorated with toothpaste.
It’s fine, but not really what I wanted. And, since this is my dollhouse, I might as well get what I like, right?
So, I started over.
This is the first one:
I like it, but I don’t know. It’s very boxy (obviously), and it seems, I don’t know… not right.
I must say, at this point, I was kind of regretting getting the same shape mosaic tile for all the tiles. A little bit of variation would be nice, and oddly, I think easier to work with. That’s something for me to keep in mind for the future.
The next pattern was sort of a riff on the toothpaste one:
Meh. Again. Square and boxy.
Then I went with something random:
Again, meh. It’s OK but nothing special.
What I really wanted was something in a repeating pattern that wasn’t lines or squares, even though that’s kind of what I’m stuck with.
I played around with a few things and came up with this:
This is exactly what I was thinking of when I had the bathroom in mind. A repeating pattern that doesn’t look square. Fantastic!
However, once I finished a few rows, I noticed there was a problem.
A Blank Space
Here’s a close up of the pattern on the border side:
As you can see, there’s a blank space running along the edge.
Obviously, that presents a problem for me. There’s no way for me to fill that gap with the square tiles. I need triangles and half size triangles at that. Even if these mosaic tiles were breakable along the existing line (that I’m pretty sure is for adhesive), they’d still be the wrong shape.
So, I did what any good crafter does and bought new supplies.
Mosaic Tile Nippers: The Adventure Begins
I did some research (like always) and discovered that cutting tile is an art form. There are different ways to approach it and different tools for each approach (wet saws, not wet saws, different kinds of saws, etc.).
That said, much of the advice out there was for cutting large ceramic tiles like you’d use on a real floor, though I supposed you could use large ceramic tiles on your dollhouse floor by cutting them down to size.
After some trial and error, I figured out I needed to search for “mosaic tiles,” not “tiles.” And that’s how I ended up on mosaic tile nippers.
Without getting too much into the boring details, I ended up with these Goldblatt tile nippers (feel free to click. I am not an affiliate person):
Mostly because the price was right and the reviews were decent. Beyond that, I don’t have any suggestions or insights into why you might want one style of mosaic tile nippers over another. For me right now, it’s trial and error — and a generous return policy.
As an aside, the round things on the end are the blades. They are circular but don’t rotate unless you move them manually. The only reason to move them is when one side of the blade is dull. Cool, I guess, but I think that means once that once the entire blade is dull and used up, your out of luck and have to buy new nippers.
I looked up how to use mosaic tile nippers and discovered there’s not a lot to it. Slide the part of the tile you want nipped off between the blades, then squeeze. The unwanted excess comes off, and you have a pretty edge.
In many respects, that’s exactly what happened with me and my mosaic tile nippers. But, it took a few tries to get it right.
Test Number One
Before I started, I read the instructions. The nippers are heavier than they look, especially on the pincer end, so I figured I should know what I’m getting myself into. The instructions are pretty basic, though the part about wearing eye protection concerned me.
With the instructions under my belt, I grabbed a few of the green tiles. I’m not a fan of the color, so these can be my test subjects. Plus, if I end up using them, how hard can it be to put them back together? Sure, there’ll be a crack in the top, but otherwise, good as new.
I unlocked the mosaic tile nippers and let them expand.
I guess that’s about the maximum thickness of tile you should put in there. That’s a pretty thick tile!
Then, I did a practice squeeze with nothing in the nippers. The handles move easily and aren’t hard to squeeze. Of course, this is with nothing in there, so we’ll see what happens when I add a tile.
Anyway, here’s what the tile nippers look like when they are fully engaged, meaning I’ve squeezed the handles together as far as they’ll go.
You are not imagining that gap. It’s there by design. I don’t know why it’s there or what purpose it serves, but my bet is it’s so the two cutting edges don’t slam together and dull each other. I have a feeling it’s also to make sure you get a smooth edge when you nip.
Mere theories on my part.
I load one of the test subjects into the pincers then gently squeeze the handles together. I don’t want to cut the tile. I’m just trying to get a feel for, well, how everything feels.
The test and results
I decided my best bet was to try cutting the tile along the centerline first. There’s less mosaic tile there, so I figured it would be easier to cut.
Well, I was right. Also, I learned why I should wear eye protection (which I was and didn’t need and am fine)!
I squeezed the handles together without holding the tile in place, figuring it would hold. And, also, because I didn’t want to get my fingers nipped! This is a choice I would (and did) repeat every time. It’s also why when you look at other instructionals, the tile being nipped is either glued in place and hanging off an edge (like, say, in a dollhouse) or is clamped in place with a vice.
As I squeezed the nippers, I felt some resistance, then heard a loud snap, followed by the sound of two pieces of mosaic tile flying across my kitchen. One piece landed on the counter I was cutting over, so it was fairly easy to locate.
The second piece was an epic treasure hunt, which is stupid because my kitchen isn’t that big and isn’t green! I finally found it, though. It had skittered to the other side of the counter and slid across the floor.
Clearly, this is why you wear protective eye gear and clamp your tiles in place before nipping!
It’s also how you end up with uneven cuts.
I find it ironic that I was trying to get a straight cut and ended up with an angled one.
My guess is that the tile slipped as I was nipping, hence the uneven cut. Lesson learned!
Test Number Two (and Three)
Feeling brave and with no reason to wait, I lined up the second mosaic tile in the nippers on an angle.
It’s hard to tell, but I promise that’s corner to corner, not straight across. All though, thinking about it, if I make the straight across thing work, I could create rectangle-shaped tiles for some variation.
Then, I nipped!
Ah! Much better and much closer to the intended result, but, as you can see, it’s not perfect. I know I felt the tile slip as I pressed, so again, lesson learned.
I tried again with tile three and ended up with similar results.
I’m not sure what happened. As I squeezed, I could feel the tile sliding, so I’d stop, reposition, then start over. As you can see, I got worse results!
I have a feeling this is as good as it gets for me and triangles and mosaic tile nippers.
How Does It Look?
Well, it is what it is, and if I decide to go this route, I have to find a way to make it work. So, I start playing with layouts, and the results are overwhelmingly not good.
Because the green tiles are uneven, there’s no way to make them fit evenly around the whole squares. It’s just impossible.
However, if I flip them the other way, it looks a bit better.
That’s not the best look, but it’s respectable. To me.
I think I’m going to make a few more practice runs with the mosaic tile nippers on the green tiles to see if I can improve my accuracy. If I can’t, I’m probably running with this anyway, only I’ll switch out the pattern, so it’s the white tiles I have to cut, not the blue ones. This way, if (and likely when) I have to buy more tiles, all I have to do is get white ones. How hard can that be?
Anyone ever used mosaic tile nippers successfully? Short of clamping the tiles with a vice, is there any way to make this easier or better? Let me know in the comments!