I had a stack of 3 or 4 chipped plates I'd been saving. My mom gave me a bag full of pieces of a gorgeous "flow blue" plate that she dropped and broke. My husband and son were at a garage sale and came across a stack 2 feet high of old china plates. All of them were chipped and best of all most of them were totally different patterns. They bought the stack for $2!!!
Here's how I made the table:
I bought a thick pine tabletop and tile board (hardy or hardie backer I think it's called) at Home Depot. My husband cut the tile board to make it fit on the pine table and screwed them together.
The fun part--breaking plates! I put the plates in an old pillowcase and gave them a whack with a hammer. All of the pieces that I liked went into one bucket and the uninteresting ones or ones that weren't relatively flat went into another bucket. Pieces of plates that I wanted to keep together like the 3 pink castle plates I stored in zip lock bags so I'd be able to find the pieces easily.
The not so fun part--I smoothed the edges of every piece on a grinder. They were just way too sharp otherwise. This part took forever!!
I used a butter knife and slathered tile adhesive on the back of each piece and placed it where I wanted it. I wasted a ton of time laying the whole table out first. It really wasn't necessary to do that. If I did it again, I'd plan out the focal pieces (for me that was the 3 castle plates and my mom's flow blue plate in the center) and wing it with the rest. I used edge pieces of plates around the edge of the table to keep that part smooth.
Once everything was glued down, I grouted it with premixed grout.
After the grout was dry, I sealed it with grout sealer.
Matt attached the finished table top to our old iron porch table.
It took way more pieces to finish than I thought it would. I ended up sifting through my discards more than once to get more pieces. There was something very addictive and relaxing about the process of placing the pieces. It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle. I'd start working on it and the next thing I knew, it would be 2:30 a.m. I love the finished product! It's a fairly even surface and not sharp at all.
Here are some pix to show you the details. You can see how thick the tabletop is in one of the pictures. The table base is pretty sturdy so it's not tippy or top heavy.
The plates were very different thicknesses. The tile adhesive is pretty thick. I really did use a butter knife to spread adhesive on the back of each piece. To make the surface as even as possible, thin plates were given a thick adhesive layer and thick plates had very thin coats of adhesive. I used a bench grinder to smooth the pieces. I think a small hand held one would take forever.
One of the pictures shows the table edge where I used the rims of the plates to make the edge smooth and finished looking.
Just for fun, I decided to use the backs of some of the plates to make it more interesting. (See photo.)
My next door neighbor is incredibly crafty...she likes the table so much she's planning to do a bathroom counter. I bet it'll look great.
Sue Gruber taught the upper grades for years. In a moment of wild abandon, she decided to take the plunge and teach the grade she feared most—kindergarten! Sue just wrapped up her eleventh year in kindergarten and loves it. Who knows, the next grade level change might be to sixth grade!
Sue Gruber and Barbara Gruber, a mother-daughter writing team, have created dozens of products for Frank Schaffer Publications, Scholastic, The Education Center and other publishers. Barbara is a former teacher who was employed by Frank Schaffer Publications from l980 to l996. She developed and presented curriculum seminars nationwide for K-6 teachers.
Sue and Barbara launched Barbara Gruber Online Courses for Teachers in 2002. They personally write each course with today’s students and busy teachers in mind. Teachers can do coursework completely on their own, or, if they wish, interact on line with others. They can earn one, two or three semester units from University of the Pacific. Barbara and Sue provide practical strategies and ideas that can be put into action immediately without creating more work for teachers. Barbara and Sue have created exactly what teachers are looking for—teacher-friendly courses at affordable prices. You can find out about their courses at www.bgrubercourses.com
Sue teaches full time, manages Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers and loves writing for the Teachers.Net Gazette. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband and son. Barbara consults for Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers; however, she has “retired” from the business. Retirement for Barbara means she’s busier than ever in Healdsburg, California on a 25-acre working farm called Healdsburg Country Gardens. She and her husband are grape growers for local wineries, have three guest houses for visitors and host wine country weddings.