The New Pique Assiette Buddha Shrine Part 5 – The Inevitable But Strangely Perfect Conclusion

The Buddha Shrine is finally done. My little Buddha, rescued this summer from the back of a truck full of junk, now sits in splendor, cross legged, quietly contemplating the lotus flower I have bestowed upon him. Will is sure his expression is now one of serenity with just a hint of a smile. All problems have been solved, all has come to it’s inevitable conclusion, all is as it was meant to be.

Well that’s pretty well how it seems to me now, now that it’s all done. The dishes I thought I needed, I didn’t need. The dishes I had and the decisions I made now all seem right, destined even.

I suddenly came to a conclusion about the back and just filled the space with green and blue turquoise dishes. Dishes, I might add, that were in my kitchen cupboard all along. Sometimes I use dishes meant for mosaic for a while and I’d totally forgotten they were there to be used.

back, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

The color fit well with the front of the shrine and it also leant a quietness to the design. So another problem solved with no effort.

The edge was done with the little scraps of gold tile I had left and the skinny little pieces seemed to be the right design solution after all.

side, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

So yesterday, Will and I donned our rubber gloves and slathered on the grout. The grout color was somehow fittingly called Green Tea, to which I added water colored with just a bit of Phthalo green paint. I wanted the grout to be more turquoise. Oddly that didn’t work either but the color actually became an almost exact match for the Buddha’s antique finish. Another strangely perfect conclusion. I was actually quite pleased when we finally glued him in place and grouted around him, just how well the grout color fit so well with the Buddha.

 Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

So here it is, all done. Candles lit. Shown here as he is in daylight.
Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

And then here as he is at night with the glow of the tea lights flickering on his meditation.

Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

Now all I have to do is find a spot for him or a new home where he will be appreciated, where his serene meditation of a lotus flower in front of the tranquil green rippling pond will remind an onlooker to slow a bit and quiet their thoughts. And realize that everything has a way of flowing, just as this little shrine did, to it’s inevitable conclusion.


The New Pique Assiette Mosaic Buddha Shrine – Part 3 (Progress, a Piece at a Time)

The Buddha shrine is slowly coming along. I haven’t had much time to work on it in the last little while but I did manage to get the base that the Buddha is resting on covered in gold tile. I did say it’s a slow art, didn’t I?

The gold tile is from a stash of Italian tile that I picked up at a garage sale years ago. There is very little of it left and I do what I can to stretch it out. A sneaky way to do that is to cut the tile up into smaller pieces. Luckily the brick pattern I chose perfectly fit the space.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

The top of the base where the Buddha sits meditating was filled in with tile while the statue was in place. Much the best way to ensure that by grouting time the space where he will be glued down is exactly right. Right now you can see the broken raw edge of the Buddha statue around the bottom, but trust me, when I grout this, it will all look great and be hidden. I’m considering a sort of verdigris color of grout.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

I’ve been doing some of what I call “fine fitting” to make all the little spots left on the back fit well. One of my students this summer, a nurse, left me a pair of forceps and I must admit they’ve come in very handy when fitting tiny bits of mosaic in tight spaces.

I always tell my students to grab all they can if they see a plate that they know they love and will use. Why oh why didn’t I follow my own advice? I’d seen two of these plates a few weeks back in a thrift shop but had the idea that I had much more of it than I actually did and didn’t buy them. Last weekend I hit as many thrift shops as I could, but no luck. Ah well, I’ll keep looking but I may have to come up with another solution for the raw edge around the pond.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

All in all, though, I’m quite pleased with how it’s progressing. At the moment my next decision is whether or not to mosaic the back of the stand behind the statue. Will it find a home against a wall? Will the back be seen when it’s all done? On the other hand, it does give it a finished look. Oh, more decisions. But I may find just the right plates and that will make the decision easier. I’d still love to find some sort of feet to put under the stand. Wish me luck.

Click for Buddha Shrine Part 4  The Search for Serenity


The New Pique Assiette Mosaic Buddha Shrine – Part 2 (Creating in Real Time)

It has occurred to me that doing this in installments may have set up an expectation. Like daily installments, lots of progress. But that’s not how mosaic works. It takes time. Lots of time. Its a slow process. So if you were expecting something that unfolds in fast forward like time lapse photography, well, you may have to deal with time, real time.

I remember reading that the idea that stress is caused by the fast pace of life is actually wrong. Nowadays, we are stressed by things that don’t happen fast enough. We snap our fingers with impatience at microwaves, bank machines and computers that take longer than a few seconds to do their job or load. So mosaic is like a step into the past, where time takes, well, hours, days, weeks but definitely not seconds.

And sometimes other things get in the way of doing things too. Like the fact that sometimes you get sick, as I was for three long weeks. Or that you get company, happy enjoyable company but it puts you off your progress. But lately, I’ve made progress, some forwards, some backwards.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

First I worked on the water lily or lotus leaves. That came together well. Then I needed to make decisions about the pond. The plate I’d originally planned to use was a disaster. It broke in jagged edges, was too thick and finally abandoned.


But the one I chose next was an improvement. Lovely, dark green with a pattern that to me spoke of ripples in a pond. The problem with it is that it also doesn’t break as well as I’d like. But that’s also part of mosaic, the lack of control, sometimes you have to go with the flow and work with that. And take more time to piece it together.

Next was the stand that the Buddha is resting on. I’d chosen a plate that just didn’t work with my new choice of pond. Students are always surprised when they discover that you can change things that are glued down. That’s what chisels are for, I tell them.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

So off came the plate, and now that portion will be covered in my stash of carefully hoarded gold tiles. Being creative always seems to come down to making one decision after another.

Yesterday, I made progress with the pond. It seemed to go along so well. Maybe it was because I was listening to 10 New Songs by Leonard Cohen as I worked. Music is so important in the studio. Somehow Leonard’s deep smoky baritone and beautiful words just helped the pieces fit.

detail, progress, Buddha Shrine by Helen Bushell,

Now the only problem I face is that I don’t have enough of this lovely dark green plate and may have to use the chisel again to steal pieces of it already ensconced in the background. Or make another thrift store run. Hopefully I’ll get lucky and find more of it. That will take more time. But, time, the slow unfolding of it as you work is really what creating a mosaic is all about. It’s a slow art.

Click for Buddha Shrine part 3 Progress a Piece at a Time


#7 in the Pique Assiette Mosaic Inspiration Series – A Little Bird and an Abundance of Fruit

With this Pique Assiette mosaic shrine, the fruity patterns on the dishes created the main theme. As sometimes happens there was one dish that started the ball rolling. In this case it was the little plate with cherries.

Bird and Fruits mosaic, Helen Bushell,

Without a clear idea in mind, I started to set aside dishes I found with fruit patterns on them. I didn’t know where it was going, had no clue really, just a feeling that someday I’d do something with a fruit theme. Besides, all these fruity dishes were really quite beautiful. For months no real idea came to me as to what I’d do with them.

Then one day, probably while out shopping for dishes to break, with some of my students, I happened upon this wonderful little bird. I don’t know who designed this bird, who lovingly sculpted the original, but thank you, mystery artist. Ok, looking at it, it’s probably a collectible ornament, maybe even worth money, but to me it was the missing piece. It was the piece that twigged an idea. Fruit and birds, birds and fruit. We have grapes and kiwi in our garden as well as a small apple tree. Birds love these fruits. They like to take a tiny bite and move on to the next fruit.

Bird and Fruits mosaic, Helen Bushell,

I saw the bird on a shelf and immediately knew the bird should be reflected in a mirror. Then I needed fruit. Where to get some? Well, thrift stores are full of fake fruit, nice squishy fake grapes and cherries, pear salt and pepper shakers, apple and orange ornaments. It didn’t take long at all to collect what I needed.

I often tell my students that making art is all about making one decision after another, often using intuition. In this case, once I had the final ingredients, all the decisions seemed to make themselves. For one, I made everything rounded, the shelf, the shape of the support, it all seemed to call for roundness, fullness, dare I say rounded fruitiness.

I could have done the mosaic pieces as a random overall pattern but chose instead to group the patterns in flowing areas to set off the cherry plate. The piece was almost too easy to do. I let intuition guide my decisions and with the find of the bird ornament, the piece just “flew” together. OK, OK, I’ll stop now.

detail, Bird and Fruits mosaic, Helen Bushell,

Then last, but not least, I wanted it feel abundant, like the way that trees and vines full of fruit make us feel. Under the shelf, I glued veritable bunches of those nice squishy, kitschy grapes and a few cherries, so it was practically dripping abundance. I’ve given the pretty bird a setting, a home. I like it, it makes me smile. That’s all I really need.


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,

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 mortar 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,

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.  Both mortar and grout have cement in them.

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,

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 thin 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,

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,

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 guess-timate 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,

Spread the mortar over the stone using a toothed trowel.

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial,

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,

Process, Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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.   you can find them here:  A Serendipitous Mosaic Bird bath  and also A Beach Pottery Bird Bath.   Bird baths are done a little differently.  We create small batches of mortar and butter each piece as we go along.  We set up under a pergola and make a summer project of it.  They do take some time, so be patient and enjoy.

Mosaic Stepping Stone Tutorial,

(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 )



Pique Assiette Mosaic Stepping Stones in the Garden

We love making mosaic stepping stones for our garden. They’re fun and easy to do. Well, easy as in low tech. But they do take a bit of work. It’s a chance to use some dishes and tile and sometimes other objects to create some color in the garden. Using dishes and other found objects for mosaic is called Pique Assiette.  I like the whole process of using dishes and found objects, collecting them, finding them and of course breaking them to create new patterns.

Pique Assiette Stepping stone,

The other day, instead of grouting inside in the studio, I’d set up a work table under the clematis pergola so my afternoon student could grout her mosaic outside in the garden. After she’d finished, very happy with how her piece had worked out, and had gone home with her mosaic creation, we still had the work table set up. I’d done a quick demo of stepping stones for her on a small chunk of broken cement block while she was there. So we had everything ready, and we turned to each other and almost had the same thought at the same time. Hey, lets make another stepping stone.

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

So off we went, into the studio, to gather up some dishes and tiles to use. We mixed up some more mortar and started. Before we knew it was 8 pm and time to stop and have a quick supper. We still hadn’t grouted but the stepping stones were done. I got out there this morning and grouted mine. So another stone for the garden.

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

We enjoy the look of these little art pieces. Each one is different and unique. We have some laid into the lawn under the pergola, to create a sort of patio area. Others become entrance art at the gate, or as a way to step through the garden to the car, or as a bottom step from the deck.

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

Will and I work totally differently. He likes to create much more minimal abstract compositions. I tend to use dishes with either floral patterns or just basically colorful dishes laid out in an overall sort of crazy quilt manner. We work quickly and without too much thought, counting on our innate sense of composition to work for us. We just relax and enjoy the time.

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

Pique Assiette Stepping Stones,

There’s something about mosaic sparkling in the sunshine and greenery of the garden that makes you enjoy having it underfoot.

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

Pique Assiette Stepping Stone,

Pique Assiette Stepping Stones,

If you are interested in creating some stepping stones for your garden and don’t know how, you are in for a treat. My next post is all about how to create mosaic stepping stones. There are lots of ways to do this, but this is my way.

Now you may have noticed that we didn’t tell you which of us created all of the stepping stones in this blog.  So, which ones do you think are mine and which ones are Will’s?

(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 )



#2 In the Pique Assiette Mosaic Inspiration Series – The Japanese Plate

I didn’t have an idea for this piece to start with. I wasn’t thinking about Japan at all. Until I found this beautiful plate at a garage sale. It was an authentic gorgeous plate Hand Made in Japan, printed on the back and had a little chip in the border. The reason it had been sacrificed to the sale table I suppose. The pattern was of chrysanthemums or carnations, I’ve never been sure. But I think that the former is more of a Japanese favourite. It was a large plate, about 12 inches across. I saw it as a background for something. And I knew it would look really good broken and reassembled in a mosaic.

Geisha Mosaic, Helen Bushell,

So the plate was the start or maybe it was the finish. Because suddenly I had a use for a few things that I’d collected in my studio and it all came together. The Geishas are actually drink glasses from a Japanese restaurant.

Geisha Mosaic Detail, by Helen Bushell,

The backs of them are open and there is a little hole in the front of each one to put a straw in so you can sip your drink. These drink glasses come in all types of figures from geishas to samurai warriors to Buddhas, lots of Buddhas. You find them everywhere at garage sales and thrift shops. And I have a collection of them. Ok I have lots of collections but more about that on another blog. So now I had the geishas in front of the plate, on a shelf and I needed something else. The quiet little birds had been gathering dust for ages and their color caught my eye as being perfect with the colors of the plate. And they gave this sort of lyrical touch to the ladies.

Geisha Mosaic Detail, by Helen Bushell,

What else? A bowl. A Japanese bowl to float a flower in for my little Japanese shrine.

Geisha Mosaic Detail, by Helen Bushell,

Then there was shape of the background to deal with, and in keeping with the theme, I drew out a pagoda shape for the top of the shrine. Now I only had to come up with something for under the shelf. I also collect those little porcelain floral bouquets. No, not to display, but to take apart very carefully with plyers or a hammer and chisel, and use the flowers on mosaics. They’re good even if a bit chipped because you can hide the missing petals in an arrangement easily. So under the shelf there is an arrangement of flowers. They don’t necessarily match the plate but who wants to be too matchy-matchy? And the little lid from a broken pot, turned upside down? Well, that became the finishing touch.

I suppose this was a case of inspiration backwards. The plate started the idea and the Japanese shrine came later. The Hawaii shrine started with an idea and the pieces came later. Backwards, forwards. Inspiration works either way if you let it.

Quote for today. Apropos, I think, for today’s blog

Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.
Thomas Dewar


Getting Hooked on Pique Assiette Mosaics

I think the whole recycling way of life probably led to us getting involved in mosaics. We always found some way to have what we wanted by finding it used or creating it ourselves.

Our very first pique assiette mosaic came about in 1988 or 89, when I decided that I must have birdbath, a really nice birdbath, not just any old birdbath from the garden shop. I’d seen some mosaic made with old dishes in a magazine and the idea clicked. We needed a mosaic birdbath! From that first stab at mosaic we ended up discovering the joys of pique assiette, which in rough translation, means stolen dishes. Well, of course, we didn’t steal dishes, but we found a lot of good material at my favourite store, Value Village. That and all the Sally Ann Thrift stores that abound everywhere.

The base of the birdbath was made by pouring cement into a sono tube found at the local building supply store. The top was built by lining a cardboard box with a black plastic bag and pouring in cement. We scooped out the middle to create a hollow in the centre which would become the bath area. By pulling up on the bag we made the sides rounded.

Now this was our very first attempt and we had no clue. We wouldn’t do the mosaic the same way now that we know so much more. As soon the cement was cured we just set up the base and the top on a picnic table in the back yard. We’d gone to Value Village and found as many dishes as we could in different colors and spread them out on a picnic table in the backyard. We’d put a dish in a plastic grocery bag and whack it with a hammer. The bag was to keep the pieces from flying around on the grass. Soon we were really good at it.

progress, Our first Pique Assiette birdbath, Helen and Will Bushell, summerhouseart.comThen we arranged the pieces in a loose pattern on a piece of newspaper. For each section we mixed up a small batch of cement, applied a small area of it on to the surface of the base about a half an inch thick and pushed the pieces of broken dishes into the mortar. As it began to set, we would scrape away the cement around the last section as closely as we could to the dish pieces and then mix up a new batch of cement and carry on with pushing the pieces in.

progress, Our first Pique Assiette birdbath, Helen and Will Bushell,

As you can imagine the sound of all these dishes breaking in our backyard soon brought out the neighbours who one by one made their way over to our back yard to find out what the heck we were up to.

All in all, the bird bath was quite successful. We left the bath area bare of mosaic for easier cleanup of it with a garden hose. We also tried to make quite sure that the pieces on the rim didn’t have any sharp points poking out, didn’t want our feathered friends to get cuts. The bird bath was also very very heavy, and when we moved to Victoria, we gave it to a close artist friend for her front yard where it weathered in beautifully.

Our first Pique Assiette birdbath, Helen and Will Bushell,

I like the look of that birdbath, sort of lumpy and rough. If we were to make the same thing today, we would apply mortar to each piece of dish, apply it to the cement base and when it was all set, we would apply grout. So much easier and better looking.

There is something about the surface of mosaic. Something about the way it glistens and sparks in the sunlight. I was hooked with that first mosaic. Even now when I get a piece done I rush outside with it to see it in the sunlight. All in all, the birdbath was the beginning of a wonderful journey.

Creating art with recycled materials is a triple thrill. You wake up a real sense of creativity, get to see dishes and ornaments in a whole new way and hey, you get to make art-without-guilt, as I love to tell my mosaic students. To see more of our mosaics and what can be done with old dishes, have a boo at our mosaic gallery pages.