Every chiminea deserves a solid base to safely stand on, a surface that won’t get burned or heat damaged, something good and sturdy. You can stand a chim on a wooden deck or concrete or stone patio, of course, even on the grass or bare earth if you like, but why not add some colour to your outdoor life and make yourself a simple yet gorgeous mosaic chiminea base?
We made several circular mosaic chiminea bases and they’re still going strong, with just a few minor chips where frost has bitten into the tiled surface. Here’s how we did it, plus some creative inspiration.
DIY chiminea bases – Get busy with the mosaic!
You can either mosaic a permanent circular or square section of your stone patio, or mosaic a paving stone which you can then move around the garden to site in different spots as the seasons or the wind direction change. We used eighteen inch diameter concrete stepping stones as the base, ordinary ones bought at our local garden centre.
We used everyday interior ceramic wall tiles in a collection of toning colours made by Johnsons, experimentally creating some chim stands with abstract patterns and others inspired by flowers, foliage and fruit. One has a grape design with bunches of grapes made from green, red and purple glass pebbles. The tiles have lasted really well through some terrible weather, including the Beast From The East in early 2018 and super-hot summer temperatures hitting more than ninety degrees.
How to make a mosaic chiminea stand in 15 easy steps
- First, measure the diameter of your chiminea’s feet, and either buy a suitable sized concrete stepping stone or slab, or mark the right size out on your patio
- It’s no good using interior tile adhesive and grout. You need the exterior stuff, plus a hammer, a thick plastic bag, a sponge and some soft rags
- The process itself is pretty easy, mostly practical rather than creative. The creative bit involves making a design. Flowers, leaves and fruits are easy to achieve, as are simple yet dramatic designs based on circles and swirls, hearts and other basic shapes
- Decide which ceramic tiles you want to use and set them aside. You’ll need the same number of tiles that fit on the top of your concrete stepping stone or flagstone, whether it’s a square one, round or some other shape
- Put one tile into a plastic bag, on a firm, flat surface, and hammer the tile through the plastic until it’s broken into pieces. Go for a variety of sizes, from tiny chips to larger chunks three inches or so across. This’ll make it easier to jigsaw together the design, using the large pieces for things like the leaves and flowers and smaller chunks to fit into the gaps in between
- Break up all your tiles and organise them into pilesby colour
- Draw your design directly onto the concrete stepping stone with a marker pen
- Start in the middle. Mix up some tile adhesive and spread it onto a small area of the design
- Pretend you’re doing a jigsaw. Push tile fragments gently into the adhesive leaving a 3mm gap in between the pieces. When you’ve finished that section, spread adhesive on the next section
- Work methodically, bearing in mind that the hotter the weather and the sunnier it is, the faster the adhesive will dry or ‘go off’. You don’t want to be left with dry places that your tiles won’t stick to
- Once you’ve covered the entire surface, leave the adhesive to dry completely
- Mix some exterior tile grout. You can buy coloured grouts from specialist suppliers, a fabulous idea which delivers dramatic effects. You could, for example, grout your red flowers with orange or pink grout and the leaves and background with blue or pale green grout
- Dollop some grout onto the dried mosaic and push it into the gaps with a sponge. Do the whole thing in one go. Don’t worry about getting grout on the tile surfaces. You can rub any smears off later with a dry cloth or kitchen sponge
- Before the grout is completely dry, use a rag to gently wipe off the surplus. Be confident, but try not to take the grout out from in between the tiles. Ideally you want to aim for the flattest possible finished surface, without little grooves in between the tiles
- Once the grout is completely dry, give it a good final polish with a dry rag. Now you’re ready to set it into the earth or lawn, or stand it on your patio or deck
More things you can mosaic
Got walls? You can mosaic a decorative trim around the top of a brick or stone garden wall, even mosaic your entire patio if you have the patience. We gave it a go and it took forever, see below! Basically, you can mosaic anything made from stone or concrete.
Using glass to add extra interest – plus an excellent safety tip
We’ve used coloured glass in exactly the same way as ceramic tile to make mosaics. When you use white grout, the colours shine through beautifully. You can make broken glass safe in 20 seconds by putting the sharp pieces into a container of sand and water. Swirl the container around for 30 seconds and the sand takes off the sharp edges so it’s impossible to cut yourself. You can also do the same with mirror to make it safe to use as mosaic.
Other materials to make amazing mosaics
- Broken decorated vintage ceramic plates
- Decorative aggregates like purple or green slate
- Glass pebbles and marbles
If you make your own mosaic chiminea stand, we’d love to see it! Why not send us a photo or two?