The New Pique Assiette Mosaic Buddha Shrine, Part 1 (In the Creative Flow)

I thought it might be fun to work on a pique assiette mosaic and post the progress and the process from the beginning but in installments. Something to look forward to for some and something to keep me from procrastinating. Because I do procrastinate sometimes. Doesn’t everyone? Maybe procrastination is too hard a word. Let’s just say I get distracted by all the other things like worries and other work. But once I start on something creative, I find myself getting happy.

We are really into garage sailing. Not just for the good finds, but for the time out, the enjoyment of it all.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

This mosaic’s main piece was found while out garage sailing. It had been tossed on top of a pile of things in the back of a truck full of junk waiting to be hauled off to the dump. I just happened to see it while on my way from one sale to another on the same street. The little Buddha had been a lampstand, but the base was broken. I found the owner of the truck and he very kindly gave it to me, probably wondering why I would even want it.

It sat in my studio for weeks. Now and then I’d show my find to my students, proudly holding it up and saying that some day it would be the start of new piece. As soon as I had some time.

Then finally, last week, the little Buddha finally got his day. Will and I needed something to change the day, something to do to relax, get happy. We pulled out the Buddha and began. First we pondered, should we keep the light fixture attached and make another lamp? I looked around the studio for dishes and ornaments to compliment him.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,
some of the pieces that would compliment the Buddha
detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,
trying out ideas

Some of these dishes had been saved for a long time, all slightly Oriental and exotic. One idea followed the next and soon we were in the flow. We saw him in front of a pond with a floating lotus flower, meditating with some sort of ray pattern as his backdrop. With this sudden realization we dropped the idea of keeping the light fixture, dismantled it and saved it for some future project.

cutting off the broken lamp base
cutting off the broken lamp base

Will carefully sawed off what was left of the lampbase.

As always, things just seemed to come together. The lotus flower was part of a broken ornament and was originally going to be part of the pond in front in our design.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

Then it turned out it fit just perfectly into the front of the Buddha ornament itself. Ok, no problem, I had a slightly worn lotus shaped tea light holder to replace it’s original spot. Oooh, tealights in front of him, now that would be good.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

Sketches were made, deliberations on the placement of the pond, the back drop, the curves and layers, and finally the pattern for the stand was cut out of newspaper. Will, obliging as always, went down to the workshop and cut and screwed and glued the base for me from plywood.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

While I listened to sawing downstairs I broke the dishes and spent some time doing a few trials of placement for the back-drop.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

Finally, I could start. And in the bloom of the moment I actually got quite a bit of the backdrop covered.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

The golden pheasant plate has become the border, the pheasants flying over his head. One oriental plate with a black background became the ray and two other plates also having a floral oriental feel but with white backgrounds became the filler.

Next will come the pond, the lotus flower and leaves. Will I need a spot for another tealight? Decisions, decisions. Trial and error. Too much pattern? Will it “work” together? I love this part. Doing a bit, stopping, standing back and looking, assessing. I’m getting happier.

Click for part 2 of the Buddha Shrine Creating in Real Time


#5 In the Pique Assiette Mosaic Inspiration Series – Feng Shui and the Foo Dog


I like to dabble in all sorts of things, like to shake up my thinking a bit. Feng Shui was one of those interests that I took up for a time and I even incorporated some of its ideas into my home here and there. For instance the far corner of the greenhouse, the “wealth corner”, is full of Jade plants, or money plants. There are other little touches throughout the house too. And I admit that keeping the Chi flowing is a good reason to tidy up. But for an old hippie like me, there are just too many rules to Feng Shui, so I just picked up a few that I liked.

Feng Shui Mosaic, Helen Bushell,

When I found the Foo Dog or Lion at a flea market, I knew I just had to do another Oriental Shrine pique assiette mosaic and I wanted to incorporate a bit of Feng Shui too. I’d already done a small shrine incorporating a couple of Blue Willow porcelain saucers, some chopstick rests, a little Buddha and a stork figurine.  Pique Assiette mosaics, by the way, are a type of mosaic quite different from the usual mosaic made with tesserae, because of the use of the dishes and ornaments.

I’d been trying to cut a round mirror when it just cracked on its own in this wonderful semi-moon shape. Well, something like that cannot be wasted! The shape of that mirror dictated the shape of the shrine and created the shoulders to put the little chopstick rests on. Everything just flowed together.

Where did I get almost all of these wonderful ingredients for the shrine? Well, here in Victoria, we have the most wonderful Chinatown ever. I love shopping in Chinatown, especially in a hidden little alley called Fan Tan Alley which is just too much fun to prowl.

Fan Tan Alley entrance from Pandora Street, Victoria BC, photo
The mystery entrance to Fan Tan Alley from Pandora Street
Fan Tan Alley,  Victoria BC, photo
Character shops in the alley
Fan Tan Alley,  Victoria BC, photo
The window of Dragon Song Music
Fan Tan Alley,  Victoria BC, photo
Baskets in a Fan Tan shop window

Now, with the find of the Foo dog, again things that I needed just seemed to fall into my lap. The background was made from some really good, antique Blue Willow dishes, given to me by an antique dealer friend of Eric’s. They were chipped and perfect for breaking. And break they did, like butter! So easy to cut and shape.


detail, Foo Dog Mosaic, by Helen Bushell,

More chopstick rests and another little Buddha were found on a trip to Chinatown. Any excuse to go there will do, after all. Other oriental saucers were found in Value Village and before I knew it, the piece was ready to start.

Foo Dog Mosaic, by Helen Bushell,

But this time I wanted to incorporate some Chi into the design. Chi is a flow of energy in Feng Shui . For that I wanted a water flow, so I created a little “golden river” for the fish to swim in, that led to the serene Buddha. The Foo Dog or Lion was at the gate to protect the Buddha and would keep the “Blue Willow garden” tranquil.

And so Feng Shui, with a nod to tranquility, Chi, and the garden became a design element in this little shrine.