DIY / Mudlarking for a mosaic coffee table & coaster

Our lovely mosaic coffee table is finally complete!

This has been one of my favourite DIY project to work on because it was a pure labour of love from start to finish. Not that it was a difficult one to do, but it is a project that started as an idea, involved different stages of activities and bloomed to become what it is now.

One of Tom’s hobby and passion is to go beach combing along the River Thames. He is what we call a mudlarker: a person who scavenges in river mud for objects of value.

It is a term that was especially used to describe poor people, and notably children who scavenged the River  Thames in London, to make a living during the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Luckily, today’s mudlarkers scavenge the river out of passion and interest rather than necessity. The things you find can be true gems and what’s not to like about holding a piece of history?

12080107_10153311381172858_7308939884610352294_oTom’s finds often contain, victorian clay pipes, Tudor combs, shards of delft ware, animal teeth/bone, glass bottles, buttons, pins, roman pottery and more…


A common and easy thing to find is shards of ceramic and pottery. Some are modern but you can find some that are victorian, medieval and even roman! When I started joining Tom in his beach-combing expeditions (I don’t go as often as he does, nor would I claim to love it as much as he does either, lol) we quickly decided we owe to make something with all these pretty blue piece of ceramics. We had big ambitions such as covering an entire dining table or a bathroom wall once we had our own house, and so we began picking and gathering pieces.

Few weeks ago we decided to get going on a smaller scale, partly because we needed to have our first trial and partly because we have accumulated so much stuff that it is becoming ridiculous not to use them instead of keeping them stored away.

When Tom stumbled upon a little foot stool that had been discarded on the street, we thought it would make the perfect side table. It was just the right size for our first attempt at making a mosaic.

img-20160605-wa0002.jpgThis was an odd, pretty ugly looking foot stool anyway. However it was in good condition and the legs had that retro vibe that we like.img-20160605-wa0003.jpg

Getting Started!

First we had to dissemble the stool.DSCN5934

Then remove the faux leather cover.


The wood was good underneath and just needed a good sanding down to remove the glue and get it ready for paint.DSCN5952


We did the same on the legs.DSCN5953DSCN5958

Once everything was painted I put it out to dry on the balcony. I did a very light coat, merely because I wanted a distressed look and was planning on sanding it down again once the paint had dried.DSCN5959

Tom was multitasking that day…

13427827_10154393407253900_4878260528627451053_n.jpg“But come on now, we still got work to do on that table!” πŸ™‚DSCN5938

Composition & Grout.

On a piece of paper, measured to the size of the area we wanted to cover for our table, we began to assemble the pieces of ceramic and pottery in a way that appealed to us.
I find doing this step quite helpful before committing to a final look.


After gluing the pieces unto the table top and leaving it to dry for a day, we used white grout to cover and keep it all together, giving it a solid surface where we can rest things on.

20160625_124604.jpgAnd after cleaning the excess of grout we left it to dry for a few days.20160625_125643.jpg

Cleaning & Polishing.

After re-assembling the table together and once the grout is dry, the mosaic is left with a light film of grout dust. Just a cloth damped in luke warm water will clean it off.20160626_193355.jpg

Tom proposed we go for a yellow rim around the mosaic.20160626_194344.jpg20160626_200241.jpg

And Voila!

A lovely and pretty up cycled coffee table made out of mudlarking treasures!

img-20160707-wa0003.jpegDSCN5969I especially love the combination of  mismatching shards, their origins and the colours.DSCN5968

Tom also made a bottle coaster using a piece of tile found on the River Thames shore.DSCN5972img-20160707-wa0007.jpeg

We’ve been using this little table very often since its completion. When we have lazy couch dinners it’s perfect to set our food and drinks on it.
It also makes for a perfect outdoor table, when we are sat on the balcony floor.20160707_130721.jpg

Even Buddy-Badger loves it!DSCN5967



11 thoughts on “DIY / Mudlarking for a mosaic coffee table & coaster

  1. This is amazing. Such a fabbi idea. Thank you for sharing it. The table is beautiful and steeped now in history …. Amazing ! Xx

    • Thanks a lot, Elaine! Yes the most charming part of it all for me is the history it has behind it on top of our own personal story attached to it. I hope we’ll keep it long and will tell the grandkids about it lol xx

  2. That is wonderful. Would you mind telling me where you go to ” mudlark” . Although I live a fair way from London I would love to give it a go. Thanks

  3. Aw that’s fantastic! I’m planning something similar for a fascia panel to go in a disused fireplace in my bedroom (so I can use it for candles and still have that illusion of fire). I really need to make a dent in my stash of pottery and beach finds….

    Did you use completely flat bits, or was the grouting forgiving of slightly curved bits?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hello Becca, Oh what a great idea! I hope you get round to make it as it sounds lovely! And yes we had curved shards of pottery, but the grout even things out relatively well. It is still a bit of a wonky surface which adds to the charm I think.

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