Here is a super awesome wood slice mosaic fireplace mantel surround that was made by Ava C. from Pennsylvania. She used wood slices in the 1 to 3 inch diameter range from our eclectic mix along with some cedar slices. You can see many of the pieces were painted in a wide array of colors that mix with the natural tones of the wood to give a kaleidoscopic effect of an outdoorsy rustic feel coupled with a unique modernness that is sure to be a conversation piece that will draw the utmost attention.
If you would like to take on a project like this or make an art piece or a wall hanging then you can find a selection of pieces in our Churh House Woodworks Etsy Shop.
First you need to decide on what you want to do. If you do not have a structure to attach the pieces to then you can use a scrap of lumber to make a backing. We have made some using 1 inch thick/12 inch wide pine, or you can use larger pieces made form OSB, MDF, or plywood. Then select the adhesive you would like to use. We use a lot of Elmers wood glue for our projects, but most any adhesive that bonds wood will do. Hot glue is fine for a lot of projects, but for something around a fireplace remember that if it heats up it can loosen the glue so for that you might go with a glue with a stronger more permanent bond like Gorilla glue or even a tube of F-13 or F-26.
If you plan to paint any of your pieces it seems easier to paint them before bonding them to your project. Give them a little time to dry so that you can push down on the surface with some pressure when you attach them without having the paint come off on your fingers.
Working with a vertical surface is much more challenging than working on a flat work piece. On a flat piece you can lay out your pieces and glue them one at a time, while on a wall you will have to better form a plan. Make sure to get a mixture of the diameter sizes as you place them. If you are using colors then make sure and mix them up. Take a step back every now and then as you go to make sure it looks good from a viewing distance and so you can see what it needs more of less of. Keep in mind that some adhesives bond instantly and others will give you a few minutes to change your mind. On a vertical wall the ones that are not an instant bond can begin to slide down so since there are advantages/disadvantages to both kinds consider your needs when buying your materials.
After you art pieces is completed we recommend sealing it off with a clear coat. They make brush-on clear coats by Minwax and other brands that work well, but it is usually a lot quicker and easier to just get a couple aerosol cans and give them about 3 coats. This will preserve your treasure for years to come. Remember that a Matte will leave an end result that looks more natural. A satin will bring out just a bit more of the wood and color, and a Gloss can change the appearance entirely by deepening all the colors and tones and putting a very noticeable shine to the work. We usually stick with a Matte finish, but it's all in what you want.