Arts & Crafts / Be Creative!

Make a Mosaic with Seeds: Folk Art for (Sorta) Cheap!

This little project turned out to be a “badge task trifecta”: a chance to get folksy-craftsy, explore nature’s textures, and recycle a bit of junk. It was remarkably easy to do but took some time. As usual, I have to thank my husband for his patience as I took over our dining table for a couple of weeks.

BADGE WORK UPDATE: PLANTS & ANIMALS, FOLK ARTS, and ECO-ACTION

A task for the Plants & Animals badge asks scouts to use seeds that we usually eat to create a work of art, as many cultures have done across the globe; the task recommended designing a mosaic. The Folk Arts badge asks scouts to craft a natural folk art project. And the Eco-Action badge asks scouts to make a work of art using something they would otherwise throw away.

Let’s start with that last task.

I walked the world without a coffee table all my life. Not quite sure how I pulled that off. Charles walked into my life 9 years ago with a $30 Ikea table. It graced our living room until a few weeks ago when one of the legs broke.

Normally, we’d throw this baby out with the next neighborhood bulk trash pick up. But that table top looked like a pretty good canvas for… something…

I’d meant to replace this old thing for years. Finally, it just gave out. Hallelujah.

I headed to market for an assortment of seeds and came home with these:

From right, clockwise: Peppercorns, shelled sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds in shell, as well as shelled, roasted soybeans.

I dyed a few handfuls of pumpkin seeds for variation. The pink seeds were colored with hibiscus tea; the yellow seeds got a bath in turmeric.

And I picked up some glue. Lots of it, actually. Strong clear stuff for glueing seeds to the board, and cheap Elmer’s clear glue for a top coat to seal those seeds into place.

I looked at a few dozen mosaic designs online, filling my head with enough ideas to lay out a basic pattern using a pencil, ruler, and compass. I hadn’t used a compass since high school geometry; I had to buy one of those, too.

A pencil, a compass, and a little inspiration.

I started from the middle, laying down the outline in peppercorns. (BTW, that was a sentence I never though I’d ever write in my life.)

Outlining the central pattern with peppercorns.

From there, I started filling in the center pattern with seeds, including the dyed pumpkin seeds.

Laying out a pattern before applying some glue.

The central pattern, now complete with peppercorns, dyed pumpkin seeds, soybeans, and shelled sunflower seeds.

I moved to the circular shapes outside of the diamond pattern…

Starting to work from outwards from the central design.

Lining the borders

… and put down the peppercorn border. From here, it was time to start filling in a lot of pumpkin seeds, white and dyed yellow.

White and dyed pumpkin seeds provide the basic “background” between the primary design elements and the border.

Along the way, it felt as though another design element was really needed. Unsure of what to do, I left it alone for a few days, until I found myself in a World Market store. It’s a great place to buy peppercorns at an affordable price, but they also had juniper berries and sesame seeds. Somehow, that magic combination was the inspiration I needed to do this:

Juniper berries and sesame seeds inspired this design element.

And that inspired this additional detail…

Adding a small flower near each corner softened the design.

I finished with a final border of shelled pumpkin seeds.

Finished!

At every step, I added a coat or two of clear Elmer’s school glue and let it cure for a few days.

I considered how I might actually make a new table top out of this creation and add new legs, but in truth, I saw it more as a great addition to a wall on our patio. This meant adding a few coats of polyurethane to really protect it from the elements.

The mosaic has now found its permanent home right here:

Finished mosaic, hanging on the patio.

I have to say, I really loved doing this project and might actually do more things like it. And Charles, who rarely says “boo” about anything I’m working on, made a point to admiring it at almost every stage of development. Weird, but true.

 

Jean Synodinos, Jean Synodinos, Jean Synodinos

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