I use any wooden shape I have on hand. In this project, I am using flat wooden round ball ornaments I found on Amazon. My local craft store also has many shapes available. I sometimes leave my wooden surface as is, or I prime the surface. Prime Time or Rick's Mix would work great for this. Sometimes I like to paint different colors for the background if I plan on leaving some larger empty spaces visible in between the glass or shell embellishments. I always make sure the paint is dry before gluing on my pieces.
I sometimes draw a light design on my piece as a reference or I will put the pieces on randomly as I go. I use a simple white all purpose craft glue and tweezers to attach my pieces to the wooden shape. The glue I prefer to use dries clear. I apply a small amount of glue in the area I have decided to start at and spread it out thinly with a craft stick. Working in small sections ensures that my glue won't dry before I can place my pieces on it. If I put a piece down and don't like it's position, the craft glue will allow time for adjustment before it sets. If I do need to move pieces, I will use a toothpick so my tweezers don't get sticky from the wet glue.
Once I have my whole piece covered and am satisfied with my design, I let my piece set overnight so I can be sure my glue is completely dry.
No need to grout! Once I know everything is dry and the pieces are secured, I move on to the epoxy resin topcoat. First I will prep the back of my piece with either liquid latex or blue painter's tape. That way, if any drips catch underneath they can be easily removed. I prefer to use CCDIY Thin Viscosity Artist Resin for this project because I enjoy the light coverage. I love how the Thin Viscosity allows the texture and angles of the embellishments to remain. When the texture catches the light at different angles, it gives the piece movement and pretty visual effects.
Mix and apply the resin according to the directions on the bottles. For this project, I find that usually one coat of resin is sufficient. It offers great protection and makes the piece easy to clean. Since I want the texture of my embellishments to show through, any minor imperfections in my resin will usually blend in and be unnoticeable.
After the resin has cured according to the directions, I will peel the tape or latex off from the back. If any resin has seeped onto the back, I will sand it down. I usually paint the backs with metallic acrylic paint, followed by a clear varnish. This gives the back of the piece a nice surface, especially if I want to add a personalized message.
Now I add my ribbon and it's done!