Sunday, September 28, 2014

Broken Plate Mosaic Bird Bath ...A Garden Project in the Last Rays of Summer




Back in August we laid out our broken dishes on the garden table and began a repair on the bird bath that had both a big edge chip and a crack.  It  would no longer hold water. With summer heat and drought, I like having bird baths for our feathered friends to perch on, drink from and splash in. 

Despite our August intentions, a number of intervening realities left those dishes  spread out for several weeks, waiting on the garden picnic table like a Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
Then on the last Saturday of summer, I saw the opening...it was a day of gentle September sun and we were unscheduled. A small backyard project was just the rest we needed.

It was calming, in our somewhat fractured world, to take disparate pieces and fit them into a new coherence, to bring new purpose to objects too damaged for their original purpose, yet too pretty to just throw away.

Thinset is smeared into the bottom of the bowl.  the broken cherub
 was tried out and removed.
Thinset is nice that way...you can pull things off even after they have dried.
Mark taught me how to use his wet saw and I made some of the pieces smaller.  I plopped some thinset on the back of each piece, fitted them as shape and color seemed to suggest (and hopefully in a way the birds would like) and smooshed them into place.  


Here is my first  broken plate mosaic ready for the Thinset to dry which took over night.

It was fun. You can see we have broken a lot of dishes over the years.  I am glad I saved them. As I wiggled pieces around I remembered where or who the plates were from.  One was Mark's grandmother's and one was from my grandma.  My dad gave me some of the plates.  A few I had bought at garage sales to sit under potted plants and two of them were gifts many years ago from a boyfriend; dear people each one and I believe they all felt kindly towards birds as well.  

I  did the mosaic by myself, but when it was time to do the grout, Mark helped me...which really means, he did all the work, but it allowed me both to learn and take pictures of the process.



He had white grout, but the bird bath was terra cotta, so we added a little red to match it up better.  You pour the grout into the water in the bucket and mix it up so it is smooth and sticky.  


The goal is to spread the grout into all the empty spaces between the broken plates.



The grout tool he had was designed for larger flat surfaces, so I got one of my kitchen spatulas which worked pretty well. 





 Next step is to sponge the tile or in this case plate surfaces clean with gentle wipings with a very soft wet sponge that you keep rinsing out.



 Eventually the grout is confined to the spaces between your pieces and it is time to let it dry and cure.


 The test now was to be sure it would hold water.  It does.


So back it goes on its pedestal...to be filled it up for the birds...



And then you step back in hopes that the birds might come and use it. 

9 comments:

joanne said...

If I were a bird I would be delighted to bathe in your beautiful bird bath. You did a fantastic job. Something I have always wanted to try...

GretchenJoanna said...

This is SO wonderful - I am envious of you and the birds and truly inspired. I have saved broken dishes to cover the holes in the bottoms of planters, but never thought of doing something more creative with them. Mosaics are so much fun! (and yours is very artistic)

Katie (Nature ID) said...

It's interesting, I can see a quilter's sensibilities in the way you arranged the pieces. It looks good and is functional, too.

Leslie said...

This is incredibly lovely, sentimental and useful all in one. Great idea and beautiful work! And what a pretty spot in your garden. I like the geese, too. :)

Rosannah said...

it's so pretty!

psychelyn said...

That's beautiful. Very creative.

Emaline Foster said...

I love it! What a beautiful way to use the special but broken dishes from family! It makes me happy that you kept the pieces! good job finishing your lovely project!

Haddock said...

The end product is really colourful. The birds must be real happy.

Neal said...

Beautiful and creative. As well as holding many memories for you, it will provide a cool place for the birds to splash in the heat of summer. Well done Jeannette.. Cheers