I've gotten lots of requests over the years for outdoor mermaids.
My current mermaids have a plywood base so I would never
recommend that to be used outdoors.
Wedi board is not cheap and the steps are time consuming and a little tedious
but the end result is an outdoor safe piece of art.
Note ~ This post was published January 2014.
I've since changed my mermaid design slightly by giving her
a new hairstyle. If I make another outdoor version, she will be in the
style of my new mermaids.
After lots and lots of research, I finally decided on a product called
Wedi Board, pronounced "weedy".
It's usually used in building applications as a tile underlayment.
It's rigid, waterproof and doesn't warp.
It's super light because it has foam for the core, then it's covered with fiberglass mesh
and a cement coating on both sides. It's about 1/4 the weight of cement board.
It is a perfect substrate for outdoor mosaics.
I found a local supplier but I think you can order online too.
It's easy to work with in terms of weight and cutting it.
You can cut it with a utility knife, and it's easy to cut shapes with it as well.
It got a little tricky when cutting out the detail of the mermaid but I
just cut slowly and took my time.
I started out with a utility knife but ended up using a jigsaw to cut mine.
The cement will dull your blades so when you go back to cutting
wood, you'll need a new blade.
I also wore a mask when cutting it. You don't want to be breathing the fine
cement dust that's created when cutting it.
Here is the first outdoor mermaid I created for an order using the Wedi board.
She had a combo of crushed shells and glass for her body and
crushed shells on the starfish as well.
Since it's an outdoor piece, I used thinset to adhere the shells and glass
and to create the texture.
I also used the thinset to finish the back of the pieces too.
The thinset worked fine to create the texture I needed for the mermaid
tail, starfish and hair.
The second outdoor mermaid had aqua crushed glass.
This was my first time working with thinset. I read lots of different
mosaic forums and boards to become more familiar with using it in an application
like this and I discovered it is not the easiest product to work with, in my opinion.
It's basically cement so you don't want to breathe this stuff while it's in dry form.
You need to put on a mask to scoop it out for mixing and you only mix
what you will use, it doesn't keep.
Which brings me to what you are scooping it out of...
It only comes in 50 pound bags. :/
Which leads to the fact that unless you are mixing the whole bag, the instructions
are not much help as far as how much water to use. You have to kind
of guessitmate how much water to use to get to the right consistency.
In terms of cleanup, it's kind of like grout, which I'm super familiar working with.
You don't want to wash it down the sink. I let the excess harden, then put in the trash.
Just like grout, it's very drying for your skin so wear gloves, which I'm not really a fan of,
but I do it anyway.
Other than those grumbles LOL, once I got going with it, it was fine. :)
The Wedi I bought was a 3' x 5' sheet so I had a little left over
after cutting out the mermaids and cut out a family of shell mosaic sea turtles.
I used thinset again to create the texture and apply the shells.
When using the Wedi board, you have to attach your hangers
before you apply your mosaic or design.
Since it's foam in the center, there's no way to attach hangers after the fact.
They need to be embedded under your design.
They are super lightweight which is great in terms of hanging and
My local supplier also carries a 2" thick 8 foot length of Wedi
which I think will be great for an outdoor surfboard.
I plan to do that one day!
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