On Making a Mosaic Tabletop from Old CDs…

It looked like a simple, easy-peasy project. I’d read that all you do is cut up your old compact discs then glue them to a surface and voila! You got yourself a fabulous, shiny new table and conversation piece.

Reality is often messier and harder than people make it out to be.

First, I gathered up my old CDs to be sacrificed for the table. I amassed a pile of around thirty.

Next, I cut them up. Or attempted to, anyway. This is the part no one tells you about, how difficult it is to cut a CD. Don’t believe me? Go try it yourself! I’ll wait… see how hard that is???

I found a sturdier pair of scissors that could maneuver through the plastic. There are 2 kinds of CDs – blank ones for recording on, that have a foil backing and ones that were manufactured in a music plant that have a label. I found that the blanks were the worst, with the foil crumbling off at the slightest provocation. The pre-recorded CDs were easier to cut, but sometimes the label would slough off or curl off as I cut, taking with it all the shine that makes the piece interesting. Older CDs, those over 15 years old, turned out to be too brittle to cut. They’d fracture the instant I began to cut them. Out of my pile of thirty CDs, only 1/2 turned out to be useable.

So I rooted around the house and found about 25 more CDs. Because the process of cutting them is such a delicate procedure, it was hard to shape the pieces. Not to mention that I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough to finish the project. I didn’t want to have to buy a stack more, that would defeat the whole upcycley purpose of the project!

I’d purchased a used computer desk off a nice man from the internet, for the whopping sum of $5. Then I removed the bottom pull-out shelf, as I didn’t need it and removed all the tracking hardware. This would become my tabletop.

I slathered all sides of the tabletop in black paint, let that dry. Meanwhile, I painstakingly cut CDs while listening to music or watching videos.

A Google showed not more than a handful of mosaic tables in existence. I thought this was odd, considering CDs have been around for more than a couple decades. It was only after I started cutting and realized the difficulty of it all that it occurred to me that there are probably many half-finished CD tables out there, started with good intentions, abandoned in frustration.

I had a tube of Liquid Nails on me and began gluing down pieces. I realized some white glue was showing and that it was inevitable some glue would appear here and there, and realized I’d have to change glues, since the LN dries white. I switched to Weldbond, my trusty brand I’ve been loyal to all the years I’ve been making mosaics. Weldbond dries clear.

Slowly, the tabletop started to take shape. Still the occasional CD would fracture in my hands or the label would fall off after I’d spent minutes carefully shaping it, causing me to throw the remaining piece across the garage while hurling invectives. As a mosaic artist, I’m not accustomed to working with materials that crumble in my hands, though I am accustomed to angrily hurling pieces that won’t conform to my will.

A month later and I finally had all the pieces glued on, with no more CDs to spare. I let a day go by for the glue to set, then whipped up a batch of some epoxy resin that comes in a box with scary warnings about inhaling the fumes or all the horrible things that might happen to you from exposure to the liquid, like cancer or disfigurement. I bravely soldiered on.

The next day I inspected the final table and found that the resin had reacted with the labels on the underside of the pieces, causing a swirly, psychedelic effect I hadn’t anticipated. A nice surprise.

So that’s how you make a mosaic tabletop from your old CDs. In the event you don’t want to go through the aforementioned process, you’re welcome to purchase mine over at my Etsy shop. If you want me to make a custom one for you, I’d be happy to do so, so long as you provide the CDs. Though if one of those CDs has some cool music on it, I can’t guarantee I won’t swipe it for myself!

My mosaic CD tabletop.
My mosaic CD tabletop in a photo shot outdoors.

 

An indoor shot...
…and an indoor shot…
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