Let’s Make Cents — Challenge # 12

Penny Floor at The Standard GrillNOTCOT’s story raced across the blogosphere like wildfire. You see, the folks at The Standard Grill in New York’s Standard Hotel covered their floor with a mosaic of thousands of pennies. It’s just not a common sight.

I decided that rather than a straight report on The Standard’s floor, instead we should use it for inspiration for our next Challenge. Heck, we can cover things in pennies, right? It’s got to be cheaper than some mosaic materials.

Penny Mosaic Serving Tray

I wasn’t in a position to penny tile an entire floor (at least not right now), so after some hunting I decided to cover a simple, espresso-stained, wood serving tray. It reminded me of the dark-colored grout in the grill photos. It was a manageable size, sturdy, and it had four sides that would neatly contain the grout.

A few notes about what I did. After staring at the adhesives rack at the hardware store for something that would adhere metal to wood, I chose a silicon adhesive. I also bought the darkest grout I could find, a charcoal grey.

Wooden Serving Tray BeforePenny Mosaic Serving Tray Supplies

I got $7.00 in pennies. I used just under $3.00 worth; for contrast with the tray I chose only a range of the shinier and not the dark, discolored pennies.

I worked in well-ventilated area and wore safety glasses and vinyl gloves. I adhered the pennies one-by-one with a small daub of adhesive on the “tail” side. I first worked along one short edge. After I finished a few rows, I moved to one of the long edges. The adhesive gave me some working time so I could adjust to get the spacing between pennies for these first rows just right.

Adhering the PenniesGrouting the TrayCleaning Off Grout

I let the adhesive dry for 24 hours before grouting. You know what? It was fun, like a grownup playing with mud pies. I plan to seal the grout, but need to wait until it dries for 48 hours.

Completed Penny Mosaic Tray

So that’s my penny mosaic tray. I’m thrilled with the result (and I love how the cobalt glassware reflects the pennies—see the top photo). In homage to the quilter’s tradition of a “God square” (one imperfectly set patch) I put a single penny tail side up—see if you can find it.

I will definitely do this again and maybe on a (small) floor some day!

That’s your inspiration. This week’s Challenge: Cover an object for your home in a penny-mosaic. It could be a tray like mine, a photo frame, an accent table top, you name it. Go small or go big, whatever makes cents to you (couldn’t help myself).

Mosaic Art and Style by JoAnn LocktovAnd now that you’ve got grout under your fingernails, you’ll need the inspirational book, Mosaic Art and Style: Designs for Living Environments by JoAnn Locktov. Everyone who enters the Let’s Make Cents Challenge gets one chance in a random drawing to win this wonderful book that profiles many modern mosaic artisans, and shows with colorful photographs their contemporary mosaic art for your home.

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When you're done, snap a photo and submit your entry. Do so by Wednesday, August 26, 2009 to be included in the Ta-Da! Challenge Results post. We can't wait to see what you do!

Let's Make Cents -- Challenge # 12

  • Submission Deadline: Wednesday, August 26, 2009
  • Ta-Da! Challenge Results: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Check out all 2 entries:

1. Matt Groener in Oregon USA2. Mike Dovidio in Columbus, OH, USA

1. From Matt Groener in Oregon USA:

Matt Groener's entry

(Late entry, sorry)

$31.11 worth of pennies (3111 pennies), 51 wide by 61 tall), based on a picture of Lincoln taken in 1864.

I used a piece of thin piece of luan board painted gloss black. The wood grain shows up very well between the pennies in person. I found that regular old wood glue stuck the pennies extremely well to the backer board. I had to pry up a couple with a chisel!

In the same vein of forced imperfection, there is a single 1943 steel penny in the bottom right corner. Almost looks like a period in an extremely long penny sentence to me.

I had hoped to use one penny from each year of Lincoln pennies (1909-2009) but have not checked my work yet to see if I succeeded. Most of the darkest pennies are “Wheat”pennies prior to 1958, and none of them were “cleaned” or “darkened”. I simply used my “eye” to gauge the correct color and picked from literally thousands of pennies to get the right blend. (I purchased almost $150 in pennies for my “palette”).

Framed and with a sturdy plywood backer, it weighs about 78 pounds. I chose to frame w/o glass as it was too distracting from the shimmer of the pennies themselves.

I have many other pictures of from start to framed finish if you are interested.

2. From Mike Dovidio in Columbus, OH, USA:

Mike Dovidio's entry

Another late entry, I know, but here is a Barack Obama portrait – 1,537 pennies in all.
I also have done a smaller lincoln, a yin/yang symbol, and am in the middle of doing a Brutus the Buckeye one as well.

I like doing the offset grid instead of straight up and down, you get less black space and better diagonal lines, but makes vertical lines look more staggered. Still trying to figure out what the next one item will be

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12 Comments for “Let’s Make Cents — Challenge # 12”

Fabulous! I love this idea for taking something inspirational and applying it to a more manageable project. I’ll be linking.

Wonderful, Rachel. It was a blast getting all muddy with grout, and I love the glow of the copper pennies.

Keep up the great work on your site; so much fun!
— Kathy

[…] Finally, gobs of you have been checking out the Let’s Make Cents Challenge. So it makes sense that entries will soon follow. Can’t […]

Love the inspiration. There is a similar floor at the Cup Cafe in Hotel Congress in Tucson, AZ ( http://www.hotelcongress.com/cup/image-gallery/ ). Quick history lesson: the Hotel Congress is notorious for playing a huge part of John Dillinger’s capture in Tucson.
I have always marveled at how beautiful the floor is but how long it must have taken to install.
I think my Ikea side tables might be begging to be redone with a good coating of coins.

[…] want to get going on your next project! And Design Junkies, check out the two open Challenges: Let’s Make Cents and Frugal Fabric […]

Hi Jennifer!

Wow! Another penny floor — who knew? Thanks so much for the link and the history lesson for us all.

It must have been time consuming, I agree. I read somewhere that for the penny floor at The Standard Grill, they may have used some kind of adhesive backing squares made for custom mosaics. In this way, they could comfortably work setting the pennies ahead of time, and later adhere the squares to the floor.

I think this is such a fun idea because the material is completely accessible to us. And I adore the coppery glow. We use our tray all the time and I am thrilled with its look. Now, for your IKEA tables–I say ‘Go For It!’ Just think what cool tables you’ll have. We can’t wait to see them.

Has anyone seen a penny floor elsewhere? Please share with us stories, photos and links.

Pop by anytime Jennifer,
— Kathy

[…] idea and ran with it and shares her how-to’s to make a tray.  See her instructions here at HomeWorkshop.com. Creative penny mosaic […]

[…] útil y bonito con ellas. Obviamente, si ya no las puedes usar, puedes utilizarlas para decorar y renovar una vieja bandeja. Es un trabajo muy simple y seguro a todos les […]

[…] Vía | homeworkshop […]

[…] les toutes avant de commencer armé pour t'assurer comment restera le produit final. Une voie | homeworkshop Posted by Mark Russel at 9:02 […]

[…] the weekend an astonishing thing happened. Matt Groener of Oregon entered our Let’s Make Cents Challenge. His entry was a little late. About two and a half months late if we’re counting. But he […]

Hey Mike,

There really is no “late” in these creative share-a-thons.

Yowzah! All I have to say to you (and to Matt) is “I am not worthy.” 🙂

Fantastic work!! I clicked over and saw your yin/yang too — can see that working in many enviroments (wouldn’t it make a great accent table top?).

Thank you so much for sharing (and do let us know what you decide to do next)!

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