Mosaic Bird Bath Delight

We’re sort of lazy gardeners. We follow the no dig, layered methods and don’t go in for applications of herbicides, pesticides or unnatural fertilizers. We don’t do a big fall clean up either. We just let the garden be at the end of the season, leave the leaves, leave the seeds, don’t take down plant growth. We just walk away and leave it all for the birds and squirrels.

And the birds reward us by coming by and eating all the seeds left on flowers and plants, the berries on our shrubs, the seeds in the trees and rooting around for insects in the layers of leaves and whatnot. We keep a set of binoculars at our kitchen window right next to a couple of bird books to identify who flies in for lunch.

The best thing, of course, is watching our bird baths. The two baths are placed just so we can get a good view.

Two Mosaic Bird baths, summerhouseart.com

We’ve had a bit of cold snap here in usually balmy Victoria, and the water in the birdbaths has been frozen. Yesterday the temperature came up and with it a lot of birds in the garden, mostly Robins.

We saw one Robin trying to get drink around the ice in the birdbath and decided to do the birds a favour.

The layer of ice was taken off and the baths cleaned out and refreshed with new water. Within minutes of our return to our kitchen window we were rewarded with a steady stream of birds coming to bath.

First one, with one waiting on the rim…

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

then two,

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

then three Robins ..

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

and then two Robins and a Towhee..

Mosaic Bird Bath, summerhouseart.com

and then the baths were full of rowdy, splashing birds!

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

We actually had to go out two more times to clean out the baths and refresh the water and each time, within minutes, the baths were filled with splashing and happy birds, who then flew up into the trees to preen and clean their feathers. Thought I’d share our little bit of bird bath delight today. And thanks to Will for creating this little video, he says apologies for the bumpiness and bad resolution.  But hey, you know it’s just for fun.  And also big thanks to Kevin McLeod, who seems to make just the right music for us to use.  You can find Kevin’s work at incompetech.com

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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How I arted up a Garden Gnome

Ok, I admit it.  I bought a garden gnome at a garage sale last summer.  Will shook his head, he could not believe I actually paid for it and brought it home.  It was, I must also admit, really awful.  Made out of resin which had cracked, the paint job on it was an attempt to repair a fading mess.  It was dirty and covered in pine needles.  And then it sat on our deck all winter because, although I meant to repaint, it I hadn’t decided quite how….yet.    Until today, when it all clicked, out of the blue or pink as you can see.

gnome-landscape

OK, I also admit that this inspired paint job was not without a bit of inspiration from another artist.    One in Italy, of all places, with a web site called The Good Machinery,  that I happened to see and of course, Pin, on Pinterest.  And what this artist did with little plastic toys was, I thought, pure genius.   Well I thought so…..

So here it is,  my garden gnome, inspired by,  but after all, totally reinvented and refurbished by me.  And it was fun too.  He did need something to hold and in another inspired moment, I fitted him with a solar garden light.  I think he’s going to fit right in.

gnome-close-up

 

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A Recycled Post about Recycling for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day or for many Earth Week.  I like to think that every day is really Earth Day.  In honor of the day, I’ve decided to do a bit of recycling.  The following is a post I wrote way back in 2010, but I think it still works.  I’d like to share a bit about how to recycle in the garden and even how to use recycled dishes to create art in the garden.

Actually, Recycling, could be the main theme of our lives.  Now it’s called thrifting too.  We’re a couple of old Hippie artists, who were there for the start of the recycling movement. For us it’s just a way of life. We buy everything used and we also get a lot of “good stuff” as I like to call it, absolutely free. Best price there is. And as I mentioned in other posts, it’s a pretty abundant lifestyle too.

Of course we compost. Every scrap of banana peel, tea bag, coffee ground and egg shell is collected in these recycled coffee bins that I brought home from a job. The tiles on the backsplash behind them are all recycled. In fact every tile was actually free and found at garage sales or from sample boards thrown out by tile stores.

kitchen-compost
The composter the food scraps go into, was also free.  Someone in the neighborhood was tossing it. Our rainbarrel is a recycled drum formerly used for soap.

black-composterIn the green house, I recycle too. Every pot from years past is saved to be reused, trays are sometimes taped up to plug leaks but are still put to work. These Black eyed Susan vines are sprouting in cookie packaging.

cake-packaging

The seeds for the Purple Cone flower, which I am rather impatiently waiting to see sprout, are planted and living under the protection of packaging, which in its previous life housed a cake bought for my birthday a short while ago.

In it’s next use it may become storage for broken dish shards in my studio, like the many, many salad green containers already put to a second use.

boxes-of-shardswm
Out in the garden we have, now wait a second, I have to mentally count, at least 4 wheelbarrows. Only 3 are shown here.  All free or almost free. All recycled. I have an abundance of wheelbarrows you could say. I think they are kind of beautiful, in a sort of colorful, shabby, knocked about and used, way.

3-wheelbarrows

 

Now that I’ve reached the garden with my recycling theme, I’d like to show you a few pieces of our garden art. Now maybe art for the garden is an odd sort of theme for Earth Day but a lot of our art is made from recyled materials. The mosaic in the herb garden is a recycled chimney covered in old dishes and tiles.

mosaic-chimney

The stepping stones are all made using recycled dishes and tiles, a type of mosaic art called Pique Assiette. In fact, all of my mosaic artwork is made from recycled dishes, tiles and ornaments.  If you would like to see how to make them check my post Creating a Mosaic Stepping Stone Helen’s Way.

black-arcs-wm

frontyard-wm1

And old sink found in, I must admit, unashamedly, a dumpster dive, is home to our succulents.

basinwm

 

The chime that Bill fashioned out of an old anniversary cup found at a garage sale and hung with flattened silver cutlery is another recycled artwork. There’s much more art to see on one of my previous posts about garden art called Bill’s Driftwood Chair and Other Garden Art Whimsies.

chimeswm

 

There are so many things that we can recycle and reuse for our gardens from artwork to garden furniture to garden tools and implements. There really is no need to go out and buy new most of the time. I always like to say the world is an abundant place as long as you don’t mind second hand. Not buying new saves resources and cuts pollution. Buying used saves more stuff from ending up in landfills too.  And the best thing is getting out and about on the weekends looking for deals at garage sales ( we always plot the most efficient course to save gas), enjoying the  sun at a beach on the way from one sale and the next.   Life is good.  So that’s my little, I hope, upbeat, message in honor of Earth Day.  Even the post is recycled.

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Bench Swing Transformation

 

Today, a little story of a colorful “make over”, so to speak, of a tired little bench swing, transformed by taking on the colors of the garden.

 

beforeafterfin

 

A couple of years ago, Bill and I, on one of our garage sailing Saturdays, found this old bench swing. It was kind of old and worn, kind of rusty, but I could see it, in my mind, totally transformed. And for only $7 to buy and another $7 to have delivered, well, we didn’t have to think twice.

bench-before

But as life goes on, not everything gets done right away. And so the swing was used as it was for a couple of summers, and spent it’s winters under a tarp under the greenhouse. But I didn’t forget my vision.

 

And finally this summer the time was right for a colorful makeover. We were planning a party and I decided, ok, this was its year to shine. So preparations were made, the tarp laid out to catch paint drips and the paint, which just happened to have been bought for other purposes, turned out to be perfect for my plan.

 

The metal framework was the first to be painted. A lovely pistachio green, painted on by brush. I’m not a big fan of spray paint, since I’ve always found a lot is wasted and it’s hard to control. Besides I kind of like the streaky texture we got and left it there deliberately.

green-frame

Then we started on the periwinkle blue for the bench.

blue-starting

and then the red for the side tables.

red-side-table

As we went along I couldn’t help doing a bit of color transformation on my old Crocks too.

shoes-a-little-paintedshoes-painted

Finally, the bench was painted and looking pretty good. But, as we sat on it, I decided it needed a bit of a cushion too.

bench-after

Which led to going through my stash of fabrics and a couple of days with the ironing board and the sewing machine out in the kitchen. We’d just replaced our foam bed topper and it occurred to me that the old one would make a good stuffing for the cushion. A little more recycling accomplished.

fabric

I had a rather fun time putting together another Intuitive patchwork.

patchwork-cushion

And finally, the finishing touch was complete. We’ve been pretty happy with the final result and have been enjoying a little swing on a summer day.

bench-finishing-touch

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Garage Sale Loot, A Russian Tall Ship and a Real Find – Paxton Chadwick’s Illustrations

dog-garage-sale-sign

Last Saturday, unlike my last entry, was the most perfect summer day ever, sunny, warm and just generally full of promise. A good day for garage sailing.

I always have this little superstition that you must find something at the first sale or it won’t be a good day. OK I made up that superstition myself but it often proves true. Garage sailing, as I’m fond of saying is a lot like fishing, sometimes you catch something, and sometimes no luck at all. If we don’t find much I just pocket that weeks garage sale allotment and save it for the next week. The first stop yielded three big pots of plants for the garden at $1 a pot! Now that’s a good start. And we were off to find even more good loot.

And speaking of fishing we found these colorful lures, which will make a nice present for Eric and Scarlette, the avid fishers of the family. Personally, I just like the colors.

lures

How do you like the Garage Sale sign at the top of today’s post? Oddly enough this sign was for a garage sale to raise funds for a group that rescues street cats. Anything to do with cats is something I’ll support and I found a lovely Cat bag and a book of Cats in Art cards. That’ll make a lovely gift for some cat lover don’t you think?

cat-bag

We found a garage sale given by a fellow who claimed that he “used to go garage sale-ing”. How is it possible to be a former garage sailor? I can’t imagine stopping. It’s hard enough to wait for spring and the season for it.

Like a true bargain hunter he had picked up these wooden rings from a friend who was closing up a shop. No idea what they were for… we all guessed for macramé. But they were so lovely that I had to take a couple of photos.

blue-yellow-rings

yellow-grn-rings

And also a pic of this ornament, which I suppose is supposed to be a Sword Fish. But just a pic, didn’t buy it. I’ve been trying to leave something for others, you know.

dolphin

Then as we drove on to James Bay by way of the Harbour we spied sitting moored a HUGE three masted tall ship. So of course, we had to go and check it out. Turns out it was a Russian Training ship in port just for a few days. They were giving free tours to anyone who wanted to check it out. It was called the Pallada. I’ve left the cars in the photo just so you can get an idea of the size of this ship.

Pallado Russian Tall ship

In James Bay we found a few more treasures. This little arrangement of garage sale loot shows the vintage colored dominoes I found. We played Dominoes later that night and I must admit Bill won 4 times in a row. A rematch is imminent. Plus I found a glass cream and sugar set, which reminded me of my childhood for some reason. The birds were from the same sale as the dolphin pictured earlier and may feature someday in a mosaic. The cat card is from the book of Cats in Art cards found earlier. This is my fave card in the bunch.

cat-card-dominoes

Also found these cement pillars which will end up mosaic-ed soon, I hope and become rather nice plant pot stands.
cement-pilars

To get an idea, here’s what happened to a chimney we did years ago.
mosaic-chimney
And yet another little arrangement of treasures. The bedside table will I think get redone and painted, but I’ll leave the drawer which has the greatest texture. We had to snap up these vintage lamps and clock too. Bill is planning to rewire the clock. He loves these old clocks and this one has a most lovely shape.

tablelamps-clock

In Fairfield, I had to snap these colorful buckets of flowers. This store has always been here, a spot I always slowed down to enjoy when walking home years ago when we lived in this area .

flower-stand

But now, for the best, which I have saved for last. For those of you who already know of Paxton Chadwick, this won’t be a surprise. You may enjoy reading a bit more about him, since not only was he a very talented illustrator but oddly enough a Communist in England. What I found out about him could only be found on Communist or Labour blogs.  I’d never heard of him before, but when I found this little beat up book illustrated by him I was enchanted. They have the look of printmaking to them, almost wood block. The detail is fantastic and the colors, well, just enjoy. Now I’ll have to find other books done by him for Penguin Books in England so many years ago. This book was published in 1952. So I leave you enjoy just a few of these fabulous illustrations. I did find a few more illustrations here on Google images. And all this enjoyment for only 50 cents!

pond-life-scan

frog-left-page

frog-right-page1

dragonflies-yellow

divng-beetles-on-purple

moorhen-and-cody

water-vole

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Hart’s Garden of Rust and Whimsey

Way back in May I gave you a little glimpse or Installment #1 of the zany little plot of paradise that is our friend Hart’s garden. In May, the focus was on the Rhodos with just a little dollop of mosaics. But today, be prepared for a peek at how an artist “decorates” his garden.

Now the three of us have spent years at Art college and I suppose what art college teaches you most is to see possibilities in even the humblest of things. To see beauty in texture and form. To create compositions and focal points, and in Hart’s case, to create what I like to call “arrangements”. In fact, my nickname for him is the “Lone Arranger”.

Take for instance his arrangement of rust in a tucked away spot on one of the many paths in his garden. Here the garden wall is decorated with a collection of muffin tins left to rust, creating a grid like texture that sets off the mosaic bench in iron oxide colors, that even has a suitably colored ceramic fish as part of it’s surface.

muffin-tin-wall

As your eyes take that in you are led to a rusty cowboy figure, a rusting feathered heart ( a garage-sale-find-birthday-gift from us) and a birdhouse decorated with ….. yes that really is a pair of pears.

cowboy-and-birdhouse

And rounding out this rusty feast for the eyes is a rusting bedstead curling through the greenery. I just love this spot.

bedstead

Carrying on with this tour, we come upon Rodin’s The Thinker, lost in thought, of course. The Gazing Ball behind him could represent the world, maybe the focus of his thoughts. But note the arrangement, the way the colors of the ferns and Japanese Maple complete the scene Hart has created.

the-thinker

Next, near another wall is the Half Man. I noticed when I was getting the photos ready that I’d managed to inadvertently create the proverbial “fig leaf” with cedar. Funny story here, a neighbour could see this figure from her window and phoned to say it freaked her out first thing in the morning. Hart obligingly moved it for her.

half-man

On my way to another part of the garden, Mojo, one of the cats, had to get cozy with my camera. He’s very affectionate.

mojo

Other people on a pebbled beach see pebbles. Hart sees heart shaped rocks. Here a collection is featured, set off by rust and greenery.

pot-of-heart-rocks

Another mosaic bench set in the front entry to the courtyard, matches the lushness of it’s surroundings of ferns.

bench-in-ferns

Even a gateway is not left unadorned. Here the little mosaic stepping stones create a counterpoint to the bars of the gate.

small-stepping-stones-gate

The garden has many gathering spots, places to party or to relax. For this spot the beaded curtains and flags are enticing, pulling you in, to find out what is beyond or behind them.

beaded-curtains

And beyond is another example of recycling and rust. The round mirror, already giving way to nature, garlanded in tacky plastic beads becomes elegant.

beaded-mirror

A wooden mirror reflects not only the view but becomes the subject of an arrangement itself.

wooden-mirror

And the pink flamingo? Well, that was another garage sale find of ours, that I painted up and we gave Hart on another birthday. Well, in a garden full of whimsey, I was sure the flamingo would feel right at home.
pink-flamingo

So I hope you’ve enjoyed Installment # 2 of Hart’s garden. I know we never tire of it. There is still more to see, but we’ll save that for another day.

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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A Few Hearts, A Few Flowers and Suddenly – Happy Valentines Day!


garden-hearts

Anytime that I’ve grouted a mosiac and had a bit of grout left over, I’d just shape it up into a heart and let it set. Somehow I’ve gotten quite a little collection of cement hearts to put in the garden. In summer they’re often lost in the strawberries and the flowers.

Then of course, being Valentines day, we need a few flowers too. These lovely Bergenias blooming this week in our front garden fill the bill.

bergenia

Quite a while ago, I took one of those little cement hearts and pasted it down to a little board. Then I had some fun creating a Rosie Valentine with a few broken dishes.

mosaicheartwm

 

if you’d like even more hearts and valentines today, have a look at an old post of mine about my collection of heart boxes, “A clutter of hearts”, that I posted last July.

Happy Valentines Day!

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What an Artist Notices in the Garden

While I was out and about in the garden looking for spring in yesterday’s post, I was noticing more than just plants coming up.
Like the colors of the wheelbarrows, leaning against each other as they wait to be used again.

wheelbarrow-collection

The stacks of pots I’d been collecting last fall and forgot about in the path, now acting as little reflecting pools.

pots-in-path

My sculpture, a class project from years ago in art college, now happily growing moss surrounded by carnations. I think some mud wasps have been filling her ear and her mouth. I never did like that model.

cement-head

And the gate, also growing moss caught my eye. That little wood-stove grate is to remind Will that someday, hopefully, this summer, I’d like a new gate with that grate acting as a window into the garden.
gate-closeup

We never seem to rush into these things though.  Will claims it’s weathering in.

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Will’s Driftwood “Chair” Sculpture and Other Found Garden Art Whimsies

One day this summer, on a whim, Will suddenly built this driftwood chair. It’s not exactly sit-able so I think of it as being more of a sculpture. I’ve put off posting it because he keeps adding to it. But for now, it appears to be done… at least until he finds something new for embellishment.

chair2wm

henchickswm

The seat creates a nice spot for my little dish of Hen and Chicks.

chairdetailwm

Right now we are trying to decide if his latest embellishment, a spiral hanger attached to the back, should be painted something colorful. I’d like that since it would relate to the mosaic chimney in the herb garden.

chimneywm

More color, I always say.

We have these bits of found art all over our garden that, to us, add a great sense of whimsy to the place.

basinwm

We found the old basin at a demo site years ago, and it’s nicely weathered. It’s a great place to grow succulents and we love it. So do the succulents.

One day, while out walking, Will found this rock tangled up in a piece of rusty wire and it hung on the wall for a long time before we found the perfect circle of rusty wire from an old pot, to pull the whole thing together.
The chime came together last year, oddly enough just before our wedding anniversary. The silver goblet found that day at a garage sale, where else, celebrated some other couples long ago anniversary.

chime2wm

Will put the whole thing together that day as a special gift for me. Friends and relatives have loved it too and he’s made quite a few now from bits and pieces. Seems we’re always looking for good old silverware for another one.

Some of these serendipitous sculptures never really get finished. Will just keeps adding to them.

colanderwm

I like to call this one his bird playground and one day he added this rusty colander to it. Just the right addition.

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How to Create a Pique Assiette Mosaic Stepping Stone – Helen’s Way

There are probably lots of ways to do stepping stones. I have my way and it works for me. There are lots of things you can put on stepping stones for your garden, like dishes, stones, marbles, keys, whatever you think will look good in a stepping stone.  This type of mosaic is actually called Pique Assiette, which roughly translates to “stolen dishes”. The beauty of doing a stepping stone is that the same method works for most outside mosaic projects.  Check out more of our garden stepping stones.

Tutorial, Pique Assiette Stepping Stones, summerhouseart.com

I’m not a big fan of really orderly designs, with symmetrical elements or tidy circles of pieces arranged in a regimented way. No, I tend to go for the intuitive and fast method of working.

First of all, although I’ve seen lots of sites that say otherwise, this is not suitable for children. It has sharp shards from dishes, it has caustic cement and requires some strength and lots of common sense. I am cutting myself all the time and keep bandages handy and I’m way past childhood.

Secondly, I’d like to say, if you are going to make these, use the proper precautions with mortar and grout. These are caustic materials, they require that you use dust masks when mixing to avoid breathing in the caustic dust. They require that you use rubber gloves to avoid getting the caustic cement on your skin. That said, read the package, note the cautions. Please don’t go leaving this stuff around children and pets! Please remember to clean up as soon as you are done and make sure not to leave this stuff in bowls to harden into cement that you will never ever get off.

Process, Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

You may wonder why I have a photo of a pail of water? Well, the next precaution is NEVER NEVER rinse off anything with cement on it down a drain. It will set and your drains will be plugged! Ok, so why the pail? That’s where I do all my rinsing of gloves, mixing bowls and implements. I let the cement settle for a day or so and then gently pour off the water into a garden path and scrape the cement that settled into the bottom of the pail into a bag and put it in the garbage. There won’t be much but, hey, better in the bag than in your drain.

An important note about dishes and tile to use. If you use tile that is meant for indoor use or dishes that are porous under the glaze you will have this nasty thing happen.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

The moisture will seep under the glaze and when it’s cold the water will expand and pop the glaze right off the dish or tile. I know, because it’s happened to us. So make sure the dish is really dense and not porous and use tile that is very dense and meant for outside use.

The last important note. Wear goggles when snipping dishes. Broken pieces have a way of flying out and hitting someone. Be careful, for obvious reasons with shards. Don’t wipe away little shards with your bare hands, use a dust brush.

OK enough warnings. On to the fun stuff. As I said, I like the intuitive way of creating stepping stones. But having said that I don’t judge what others may like. Creativity is self-expression after all.

You will need:
A concrete stepping stone
Dishes and/or tile
a work table
a pail of water
rubber gloves
dust mask

old cotton socks

Gray or White Mortar or quick set ( I use it in powder form and add water)
a jar of clean water
a bowl for mixing mortar and grout in ( I use old stainless steel mixing bowls)
a trowel for applying the mortar
something to scrape between the pieces to remove too much mortar, like an old knife.
two-wheeled glass cutter or tile nippers
tile cutter
sanded grout ( it comes in colors, so have fun)

Step 1- Getting ready to start
I buy concrete stepping stones from the local home building supply store. We used to make our own, but honestly, it wasn’t worth the effort. Stones are about $2 or $3 to buy. They come round or square.

Put a concrete stepping stone on a work table so you don’t have to be bent over the whole time while creating it. You’ll thank me later. I like to cover the work table with plastic first to save it for other uses. Also, it’s a good idea to put the cement stepping stone up on a few little blocks of wood to raise it off the table surface. It’ll make it easier to get your fingers under when you finally pick it up to move it.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Step 2- Cut up the dishes and tiles
Please put on your eye protection! I wear glasses anyway so that’s mine but really protective goggles are worth it.

Cut up the dishes into bits and pieces using nippers or two-wheel cutters or tile cutters. For cutting up tile, use the scoring wheel on the tile cutters to score the tile and then break it with the tile cutters. If you don’t know how to use one ask the clerk in the tile store, they’ll usually be happy to demonstrate.
Play around a bit with the arrangement. You could arrange them all before hand on an area approximately the same size as the stepping stone. More about this later.

Since mortar sets in about 20 minutes max, laying out your pieces on another surface will cut down on the time it takes.  Or you could do it my way and just arrange them right on the mortar and wing it.  Keeping in mind that the mortar loses its stickiness and you may have to make a little new mortar to finish sticking down pieces.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Step 3- Mixing the mortar
Put on your Dust mask! Put on your Rubber gloves! Seriously!
Wear your rubber gloves! I like to mix with my hands, encased in rubber gloves of course. Don’t do this bare handed! It’s caustic. see warnings above!

Put the powdered mortar in the mixing bowl. You will have to guestimate here for the amount of mortar. Add water from the clean water in the jar, a tiny bit at a time. Mix up the mortar to a peanut butter consistency.

I like to use stainless steel mixing bowls that I find in thrift shops, they work well, and are reusable.

Get it to a peanut butter or just slightly thinner consistency by adding the water to the mortar ( this applies to grout also) very slowly as it will become too thin very quickly if you add too much.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Spread the mortar over the stone using a toothed trowel.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Lay each piece on the mortar and try not to squish up mortar between the pieces. You’ll need that space to put grout in later. If it happens, and it will, just remove it with a blade like tool. I cut and fit dishes as I need to as I go along.

You’ll have to move fast, mortar sets up on a hot day really fast, you’ll have only about 20 minutes! In fact I wasn’t fast enough on this one and it started to dry out and nothing stuck. So I scraped off the dry mortar and just buttered a bit on, for each section I had left to finish. Ok, it’s cheating a bit, but it did work.

BIG NOTE: watch out that when you put pieces down on the mortar that you don’t leave nasty points sticking up. You’ll know you did, painfully, later when you are smoothing grout over the pieces and snag your fingers on a point. And you wouldn’t want to step on a point later.

Be careful, this stuff is sticky and keep the top of your dish pieces clean and wiped off.  Once mortar sets it’s cement and you won’t be able to remove it from the surfaces of the dishes!

NOTE FOR BIG PROJECTS: When we are doing a big project, or if we want to take our time designing a piece, we work a bit differently.  We glue down each piece with a bit of mortar buttered on to the back of each piece.  We just mix up tiny amounts of mortar at a time in a small bowl and apply it to each piece as we stick it down. When the mortar gets too hard, we just clean out the bowl and mix up another fresh tiny amount. 

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Step 4 -Take a break
Now that you have all the pieces mortared down, take a break and enjoy a cool iced tea. When you can’t move the pieces with your fingers, the mortar has set. We’d actually done the mortaring in the evening after a long day and stopped altogether to go in and watch movies. Of course, we cleaned up all the mortar mess like the bowls and implements first in the bucket of water! Then the next morning I was ready to grout.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Step 5 -Grouting
Put on your dust mask and rubber gloves!! Mix the grout in a bowl adding just a little bit of water from the jar at a time. Again I like to mix with my hands.

Get it to a peanut butter or just slightly thinner consistency.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Let the grout “slake” for a few minutes, no more than 5 and with your gloves on still from mixing it by hand pick up a handful and start “smushing ” it all over the surface.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Be sure to fill in each space between the pieces well. I use sanded grout always.

Step 6, or Why should I save old cotton socks?
I like to use old cotton socks to remove the grout from the surface. Some people like to use old sponges but I’ve found it’s just too easy to remove the grout from between the pieces with sponge. Dry old socks work well and you can turn them inside out and use the inside too. Once you have most of the grout removed from the surface leaving only a bit of hazy layer, let it sit. Break time again! Not too long, just 5 minutes and then back to work! Come back and with a clean sock shine up the pieces.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

Step 6, Enjoy!
Enjoy the work you’ve just produced. Sit back and tell yourself what a genius you are! Then after your new wonderful stepping stone has had overnight to set and cure, dig it in to your chosen spot in the garden path. Hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorial.  You can use this method for other outdoor projects like bird baths too.  Check out our Mosaic bird baths too, if you’re interested.

Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial, summerhouseart.com

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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