Turn Old Coffee Mugs Into Beautiful Wall Art With This Simple DIY

Mugs and teacups can be one of our most prized possessions, host to endless morning coffees or teas and late-night hot cocoas. When a cup has met its end, either through stains and wear or an accidental dive from the counter, you might be looking for a way to repurpose the mug or preserve the memory of your favorite. A perfect way to turn what was once your favorite vessel into art is to make a mosaic for your wall. Using small pieces of your beloved glassware can be a perfect place to start exploring this creative and fun art form — whatever your skill level. 

Colorful mugs and their remnants work incredibly well for this DIY project, as do intricately designed ceramics that grant texture and pattern to your final design. You will also need some pre-mixed mosaic grout, a putty knife, a grout float, water, and a sponge. In lieu of grout, you can also use ModPodge as an adhesive and clear coat, which will give you a clearer and clean finish. You will also need a base for laying your mosaic. Shallow trays, pans, and other containers with sides work well to keep your mosaic in place as you lay it, though you can also use a piece of plywood or a blank canvas. In addition to your mug shards, you may also want to use other accents like beads, crystals, pebbles, and mirrors for additional texture and interest.

Creating a mosaic from ceramic mugs

You can get as specific or abstract as desired with your design, including simple repeating patterns of colors and shades or intricately wrought florals and landscapes. If you want a more specific look, plan out your general sketch on the surface you will be working on, or work more freely by just adding bits as the creative spirit moves you. To break your mug into workable chunks, place it inside a plastic bag covered by a towel, then strike it with a hammer until the pieces are your desired size. You can also use mosaic nippers or glass cutters to cut more intentionally if you are looking to create specific shard shapes and sizes.

Using a bit of adhesive or grout, begin applying shards to your base, leaving a little bit of space between that will be filled in. To apply it, use a palette knife and a grout float to smooth a thin layer over the whole mosaic to lock it in place. Use a wet cloth or sponge to wipe any of your chosen adhesive from the surfaces you want uncovered. After it's fully dry, add hanging hardware or wire to place your creation on the wall.

Other ways to use mosaics in your home

Mosaics are a great way to preserve your favorite glass and ceramic pieces, not just mugs, but also plates, bowls, vases, and more that you want to save or upcycle. Two-dimensional pieces of mosaic art are a beautiful way to add color and interest to a wall, whatever their size. If you're looking for a bolder statement, you can even create a mosaic directly on the wall itself using the same materials, a perfect solution for jazzing up an alcove or support column.

Mosaic techniques also work beautifully when added to other elements that instantly become art, including boxes, candle holders, and tabletops, all of which can help create pieces that are as functional as they are beautiful. For surfaces that get used a lot, like a side table mosaic, make sure to add a clear protective coat to keep the piece looking good. For smaller doses of the same aesthetic in your decor, try lining a wood frame with a tessellated creation or adding mosaic tiles around the outside of a customized mirror.