After the whole DIY tile disaster, I decided I was better off buying loose tiles and creating my own pattern. This way, the only disaster I might encounter would be a bad pattern or ugly colors.
This was a wise choice on my part. I love creating and DIYing stuff, but some things are better left to the experts, and anything involving polymer clay is one of those things!
What to Buy
The whole reason I tried to make my own tiles was because I didn’t like the premade patterns I found. They are, in a lot of cases, just like what you would find in a full-size house. Which, when you think about it, is kind of what I’m doing here. Kind of. It’s just that none of the patterns or colors really spoke to me.
Some of the loose ceramic tiles that I did find were the right scale but not quite what I wanted in terms of color or pattern. Plus, all of the tile makers seemed to be based in Europe, which is fine. I don’t mind supporting a small business, no matter where it’s located. But, given my somewhat ambivalent feelings on the tiles, ordering something from halfway around the world and paying shipping (also fine!) seemed kind of risky.
I checked my local craft and art supply stores but, again, couldn’t really find anything I wanted. Local to me, no one has dollhouse size ceramic tiles. I can live with that. It’s a pretty niche item. But, I still need something “ceramic tileish” to complete my project.
After a ton of searching, I finally decided that mosaic tiles could be a decent alternative. They’re not perfect, as you’ll see, but it’s the best I can do. And I can live with that.
As I’ve learned, one-inch square tiles are not the right look for this dollhouse. Side note. I wonder if they’re the right look for any dollhouse? So, that meant finding something smaller.
In the world of mosaic tiles, using the word “tile” isn’t quite right, in my opinion. Mosaic tiles come in many shapes: square, rectangle, triangle, random. Of course, I knew I didn’t want random shapes. Or triangles. And, I was pretty sure I didn’t want rectangles. Once I ruled out every shape but square, that left me with few options, which is how I settled on this:
That’s a bucket of 3/8th inch mosaic tiles in “sea” colors. It works out for me because I wanted a blue tile floor in the bathroom. For the record, this was pretty much my only option for small, blue, mosaic tiles. Online I saw other choices in terms of colors, but this was the best choice, for now, so I’m sticking with my bucket.
Here are what the individual tiles look like (in no particular order):
There’s Sea Green, Ice Blue, White, Elsa Blue, and Ocean Blue. Please note, these are not official color names. I made them up.
You’ll also notice they look kind of sparkly. They aren’t really sparkly. It’s more like glassy or reflecty (that is now a word). Maybe shimmery is the right word. Part of the problem is how I had things lit, but they aren’t that sparkly in real life. The exception might be Ocean Blue. It definitely has some fleck action happening in there.
Tiny mosaic tiles
As I said, these are mosaic tiles. What exactly does that mean? Well, I’m not sure, except for this:
This is what I’m assuming is “face up” for a mosaic tile. My guess is that the flat side (the up side) is what’s supposed to show on the mosaic or tile floor in my case. The “down” side is angled and grooved. My guess is that’s so the tiles hold to the adhesive.
It’s a good enough theory. All though I will say that as I shopped around, not every mosaic tile set has this groove thing happening, so maybe I’m totally wrong and down is up and up is down.
I doubt it, but what do I know?
In either case, the groove and angle design presents an issue for me. If I’m right and the groove side goes down (and, even if I’m wrong, that’s what I’m going to do), I’m going to end up with the final row of the tiles (closest to the “front” of the dollhouse) that have a visible angled and grooved edge. The above picture isn’t a great angle, but I think you see what I mean.
From a top down view, the floor should look (in theory) smooth as glass. But, from the side, you’ll get a groovy view, and there’s no good way to cover it. In theory, I could glue something in front of the edge of the floor, but I’m sure that would look weird.
I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, though. In the meantime, I have to create a pattern!
Creating a Tile Floor Pattern
So, as you can see, I’ve got five colors to work with. That said, I’m only working with four because I’m not a fan of the green. It reminds me of a place I lived once that had a green bedroom and a green bathroom. And when I say green, I mean green.
I still have nightmares.
That leaves me with three shades of blue and the ever neutral, always easy to work with, white.
Then it’s a simple matter of playing with patterns and colors. Initially, I was thinking of some kind of checkerboard pattern. Here are my first two attempts with that.
Lovely, but all I can think of is Purina.
I like the checkerboard idea, though, so I try a few different checkerboard patterns.
I hate them all.
Turning to the internet for advice and inspiration, I found a ton of both but nothing that spoke to me. Also, since I’m only using one shape and size of tile, I am a bit limited in what I can do. That’s OK for this project, but it is something to think about for future projects.
The problem with all of these patterns is that they are very square. Duh. Of course, they are! But, they are kind of boring to me, and there isn’t much variation in the pattern. I want a pattern but with a little bit of unpredictability thrown in.
Kind of like life.
After playing around a bit more, it hits me. Instead of a checkerboard pattern, why not try lines?
Lines of Tiles
When I say lines, I don’t mean straight lines. That would look weird (I think. I didn’t try it.) When I say lines, I mean diagonally. Here’s what I do.
I create a small border with the Ocean Blue tiles, then create “lines” with the other colors diagonally across the border, like so, and repeat the colors. That’s the pattern. It’s Ice Blue, White, Elsa Blue (which looks grey in the picture):
When you look at the small version of this, it looks like I went left to right with Color 1, Color 2, Color 3, then repeat. But that’s not what I did. Instead, I went diagonally, bottom left to upper right, with one color creating a “diagonal line” of a single color.
Overall, I like it, but I foresee two problems with this. First, will I have enough tiles to replicate this in the dollhouse bathroom? And, second, will it look good if I scale it up?
Only one way to find out!
First things first. For reference, here’s the second floor of the dollhouse with the wall sort of in place. I used it as a placeholder for a reason.
I know that once I get the wall in place, the bathroom space won’t have an even floor space across the whole floor, as you can see. I have to create a “transition” from one room to the next. I hadn’t decided how that would work, but now is as good a time as any.
Looking at the wall, it looks like it might be the exact width of a tile, so I test that theory.
It’s a little off and not totally lined up in the picture, but I think it’s good enough. That solves that problem (I think. We’ll see).
Then I grab the ruler and measure the length and width of the bathroom.
That’s basically six by twelve inches. Easy enough.
Then I grabbed a large piece of cardboard I have lying around. It happens to be exactly 12 inches wide, so I measured out six inches and drew a line.
Ta-da! A template is born.
Then, it was a simple matter of replicating and scaling the pattern.
Before I get to that, though, two things I learned about these mosaic tiles.
First of all, they aren’t all the same height.
That’s not a huge deal to me, but it is something to keep in mind. If I’m putting items on these tiles (and I will be), I have to keep in mind that the floor won’t be even in every location. Like real life!
Second, nothing is perfect, and some of the tiles were a bit cracked across the bottom. Again, not the end of the world, but also something to keep in mind.
I won’t keep you in suspense. I did have enough tiles for the pattern, and here’s what it looks like:
That said, the longer I look at it, the more it reminds me of cake. I don’t know why cake, but it does. Maybe because I only used three colors? I don’t know.
But, who knows how I’ll feel about it in the dollhouse, so that’s the next step.
Sorry to keep you hanging, but I haven’t gotten there yet. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, have you ever worked with mosaic tiles? Do I have the right end up? Are mosaic tiles the wrong way to go? Let me know in the comments!