Garden Treasure Bird Pool

Welcome to new followers and thank you for all your lovely comments about my Pool of Dreams bird bath. I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed but feel privileged to have been featured on Discover .

I have made another bird pool. This one is a lot smaller and constructed by using my other method by casting the cement mortar into a mould which in this case was a plastic melamine salad bowl from Tescos! “You can’t use that” my daughter insisted, “it’s too nice, you’ll get it covered in concrete and we could use it to eat salad out of!” So I had to sneak it into my shed while she was at college and I covered the inside quickly with wire, mesh and cement mortar.

Again I began from the centre with a beautiful ammonite.

I didn’t like the horizontal direction of the first few strips of gold metal leaf glass, so I redid it …

Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning out that stubborn grout!

Garden Treasure Bird Pool

I love using glass marbles in these pieces combined with glass nuggets and milliefiori tiles. The marbles were bought years ago on a trip with my kids to the House of Marbles in Devon. Many years ago we watched the marbles being made in the factory, which was fascinating. I think even my hyperactive boys were mesmerized and settled down for five minutes to watch. We all bought a tub of marbles each and when we got them home they were played with for a short while before being left to collect dust on shelves in the bedroom. When my kids left home and cleared their rooms they gave me their marbles and I stored several jars of them in my work-shed with the idea that I would use them one day. It wasn’t until I discovered I could cut them into two halves (not an easy cut, and not 100% accurate or successful) that I began to use them in my work. That way I had a flat base to stick them into the cement adhesive.

Garden Treasure Bird Pool and the Pool of Dreams.

Hand cast wire and concrete bowl, glass tile, vintage glass tiles from Marble Mosaic Company, glass nuggets and marbles, hand gilded metal leaf glass, milliefiori, ceramic tiles, fossils from madagascar and the Jurassic coast, gold lipped oyster shell from Boris Anrep’s studio)

Happy May Day

Garden

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Mary Mary Quite Contrary Bird Baths

The last few weeks I have been making bird baths for the Bishops Palace English Country Garden Festival in Wells this weekend. Today was the first day but you still have a chance to come along tomorrow or Sunday!

I thought how nice it would be to make some work based on a garden theme and remembered that old traditional English nursery rhyme …

“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells,
And Pretty Maids all in a row”

I have read that there are different views about the meaning of the rhyme, some say it was about the reign of  Mary Queen of Scots, while others believe it was about Mary Tudor. The rhyme might suggest religious metaphors of Catholicism (silver bells) and maybe the pretty maids all in a row symbolise the rows of Protestants that were executed by Mary Tudor.
However¬†if the rhyme was written¬†not long before it was¬†first published in 1744 then this would be unlikely as both queens reigned in the¬†sixteenth century.¬†But then it could have been written earlier …

I find it interesting that many traditional nursery rhymes appear to be all sweet and innocent but turn out to reveal a much more sinister meaning.

However I made these bird baths in all sweetness and light, taking the nursery rhyme only as it reads!

They are all hand formed shapes (some using a mould and some without) using cement mortar mixtures.

Here is a collection of the baths at the garden festival.

Silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row, displayed in different ways, on cobbles, terracotta drainpipes, slates and balustrade plinths to help customers imagine ways they could place them in their gardens …

Silver Bells, Cockle Shells and Pretty Maids All in a Row at the Bishops Palace

 

Silver Bells

 

Silver bells

 

Cockle Shells

 

pretty maids fb

And Pretty Maids All in a Row

 

And a flower bowl

 

At the Bishops Palace

At the Bishops Palace

 

Click here if you would like to know more about the English Country Garden Festival and visit.

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Summer Mosaic Courses

I have been running courses at Somerset Crafts for the past few months. This month students made a paving stone and a panel for outdoors.

The courses take place either in the polytunnel, outside or in the gallery.¬†I start the courses by¬† discussing my work with students to offer an insight into some of the techniques and materials I use. I also come with an armful of mosaic books and we frequently look at other artist’s work for inspiration during the course.

In addition to my display of work in the gallery I also have (until Thursday 30th May) my solo show Voices of the Wind which is attracting a lot of interest and making a few sales.

paving stone mosaic workshop at Somerset Crafts

paving stone mosaic workshop at Somerset Crafts

I have Summer Mosaic Courses coming up at Somerset Crafts. For dates and details see my website

If you are thinking of coming down from afar, I can help you find accommodation. If you are wondering what it is like around here, think of rhynes, lakes, willows, egrets and cranes, ancient walks and Glastonbury Tor. The levels have small roads great for cycling and walking and of course bird-watching!

Somerset levels

Somerset levels

The gallery at Somerset Crafts¬†is quite large and¬†there are currently 19¬†of us who¬†run¬†it and show our work there. A lovely mixed bunch we are¬†– from textile artists to blacksmiths. ¬†There is a great little caf√© on site too –¬†“Eco-Friendly Bites”¬†(I recommend the peanut butter cookies!)

I have added a couple of pages to my blog (see under mosaic classes) if you want to see what students have made whilst attending a course here.

soaking paper off mosaic paving stones

soaking paper off mosaic paving stones

Maybe see you in the summer

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June Ammerdown Mosaic Course

It’s less than 2 weeks to go before my course at Ammerdown, and there are still some places left if you are interested in coming along. Beginners or those with experience can attend. You will learn the basic techniques and beyond, see a potted history slide show of mosaics through the ages, and there will be plenty of discussion about contemporary mosaics and what is HOT!

Ammerdown is a lovely relaxed  conference  and retreat centre set in beautiful gardens (they should be as one of my best friends is a gardener there!) The food is just amazing (real old fashioned English fayre, lots of it Рwonderful puddings with gallons of cream Рclotted or single, and cream, and oh,  did I mention cream?)

In the evenings you can stroll in the gardens or go to the bar or, as many of my students have done,  stay up really late into the night making their mosaics. Such dedication!

If you want to read about last years course then go to my post here  . You can see the mosaics that past Ammerdown students have made by visiting the workshop pages on the menu on the right.

Here are a couple of photos of the gardens to wet your appetite!

These beautiful black tulips caught my eye last year

Landscaped gardens originally designed by James Wyatt and later by famous landscape artist Edwin Lutyens.

Landscaped gardens originally designed by James Wyatt and later by famous landscape artist Edwin Lutyens.

Course details: Ammerdown Mosaic Workshop 2011

About Ammerdown