Starry Night Backsplash (2011)

My wife, Lois, and I built the home that we live in in 2010 — 2011.

But when it came time to finish the kitchen, we couldn’t decide on what to do for the backsplash. So I decided to be creative and design/make one myself.

I have experience with tile, so that was an easy choice. Then I had to pick which tile to use. I opted for glass tile, and after an exhaustive search settled on Daltile’s Glass Mosaics, which comes in 35 colors.

Next I needed samples, but at the time, Daltile only sold directly to builders. So I drove to the nearest outlet, impersonated my builder, and got a sample board (which I never returned — my builder deserved it.)

Next, I photographed the sample board under a variety of lighting conditions, settled on one, and digitally cut out each sample, saving each as its own picture.

I then used a free program called Mosaic Creator, which you can use to make a picture out of pictures. But in my case, I was going to make a picture out of pictures…of tile. Then I would know which colors of tile to get, how much of each, and have a first stab at how to arrange them.

I tried a variety of pictures. I tried pictures of flowers (the peonies came out looking like a chicken). I even tried a picture of the house…but that seemed too Inception-esque (hey, check out this picture of the inside of my house in which I’ve pasted a picture of the outside of my house made out of pictures of tile arranged to look like another picture of the outside of my house…you get the idea).

In the end, I settled on The Starry Night by Van Gogh. (Of course I did.)

To my great pleasure, it used nearly all of the available colors, and for most of the colors, it required less than 25 tiles…the first 25 tiles of each color were free ;)

So, continuing to impersonate my builder, I ordered the tile, and put it together on my kitchen table. I made a few small adjustments, improving the aesthetics, and then moved everything over to posterboard that I had sprayed with glue and then let dry such that it was only slightly sticky, so I would be able to transport the tiles, but still easily remove them.

Then, row by row, I put it up on the wall.

Next, I had to figure out what color grout to use. Since you only get one shot at this, I made a handful of small test mosaics, and tried eight different colors of grout. I picked the one that I thought worked best, applied it, and viola — Starry Night Backsplash!