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









The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods

Mosaic Odysseys Festival moving on to Athens and Mykonos

The first exhibition for the Mosaic Odysseys Festival at the Hellenic Centre  in London was a great success. We had a lot of visitors and several sales.
After selling my works “The Whirlwind That Takes Me There” , “The Enchanter“,and “The Four Winds“, I decided to make new works to send to Greece.
I wanted to make 3 dimensional birds and initially thought about my gold birds that appear in my work frequently. They would be more realistic and fly on their own odyssey to Athens…(only the courier would spoil my fantasy) . However I dipped into the BOOK once again (Homer’s Odyssey in case you wondered) …and found just what I was looking for.

It’s in the beginning of the section where Circe tells Odysseus how to escape from the House of Hades. She tells him how he must avoid the sirens song, then goes on to mention the overhanging and very high rocks that the gods call the Wanderers. She says …
“Here not even a bird may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father Jove has to send another to make up their number…”

I decided to make the doves so they were partly 3 dimensional but so you can still hang them on the wall. And hang them rather like Hilda Ogden’s very “tasteful flying ducks” in Coronation Street!!¬† (Sorry, did I say tasteful? Oh yes, so I did)

I cut out my doves from plywood with only one wing and constructed the others 3 dimensionally. I have used a little of my hand gilded metal leaf glass in them.

dove progress 4

For the bodies I used polystyrene eggs and cut them in half.

dove progress 8

I chose these funny circle design milliefiori tiles for eyes to illustrate the exhaustion the dove feels after the journey!

dove progress 1

A persistent small spider wanted to get in on the action!

dove progress 5

Various glass on the inside wings.

dove progress 7

Wings are fixed securely.

Bodies and copper wire feet are attached.

dove detail2

Fly my babies…

doves who bring ambrosia small

The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods (take 1)

The tin of rice pudding is of course a joke, although I am tempted to use it in the exhibition.  However there are shipping issues getting tins of food through customs as well as copyright issues using the logo. I wrote to Ambrosia, but I got no reply.
So they will bring symbolic gifts …

doves who bring ambrosia small 1

The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods (take 2)

…where ambrosia is a nectar or a honey made by bees and flowers.

Close up…

dove silver 1 small

dove silver 2 small

dove gold small

The Mosaic Odysseys exhibition will be at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens from September 9th to September 18th.

The final exhibition will be at the Muncipal Art Gallery of Mykonos, starting 23rd September and finishing 3rd October.

Exhibiting artists ‚Äď

Greek artists :

Ioannis Touliatos, Artemis Klitsi, Eftychia Finou, Vasso Spanou, Lydia Papadopoulos, Alexandros Bassadis,

UK artists:

Dugald MacInnes, Nathalie Vin, Aliyahgator, Arianna Puntin, and myself.

Have a look at our website here

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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.




Starling Sculpture Shocker on Shapwick Heath!

Installation Day – Thursday 21 May

Following on from the last post, I managed to fit all the gubbins into my car in one go! Amazing!

car copy

It was a beautiful day and the guys from the Avalon Marshes dug the pits for my bamboos.


Then I took a little time to arrange the birds.

me installing

I was so pleased with the finished installation and thought the starlings have come early to the marshes and look fabulous in their natural environment! When the grasses grow up they will blend in even more and some will be hidden for a while at least until the winter. The copper sheet of the beaks will change colour from copper to verdigris green. I was looking forward to recording the changes.

I wondered what the real starlings would think of them when they returned in the autumn!









me and starlings

Launch Day – Sunday 24th May

I was feeling very disheartened today having heard the news yesterday that a bamboo was snapped and a starling had been stolen. I didn’t sleep last night until the birds started to sing and I had listened to them for half an hour. What if the thieves returned during the night and stole the rest of them? And were they stolen or thrown in the lake? On arrival at the gallery I looked at photographic evidence before I took a group of students to look at them and discovered that not one but two had been stolen!

Here are some of my students who helped make them (apart from those two little imps!)

group 2 starlings

The two stolen starlings are the first and last in the flight path, here you can see where they once were.

Sunday 2 missing

So rather than leaving them out there for someone to keep picking them off like 21 green bottles (now 19) we decided to bring them into the safety of the gallery until we can find them a more secure spot outside.

So here they are where at the very least they cast beautiful shadows when the sun shines!

starlings in gallery

There are several sculptures by my collegues at Somerset Crafts along the trail which I will share with you at some point when I get some good photos. Maybe then I’ll have some news about where the starlings will go next!

But for now if you see a wayward mosaic starling in someone’s garden or on ebay please let me know.


Seeing Starlings Sculpture Launch

For the last few weeks I have been making starlings for a sculpture trail on Shapwick Heath nature reserve along the Avalon Marshes in Somerset. As you know I have become completely obsessed with these amazing birds even after they have left the area! I wanted to make my own flock so that would always be here.

I started the project with a series of workshops where I was able to teach 11 students a bit or all of the process to make a bird sculpture. The design was one I developed prior to the workshops so I could teach them by step-by-step demonstration.

3rd workshop7

This got the birds off to a flying start (!) and I completed unfinished sculptures and made new ones to make a final 21 starlings plus one that will be in the gallery. Here are a few in various stages of progress…

starling sculptures

Like my 2d starling mosaics I used iridescent black glass tile, and mixed it with plain black glass. I used copper sheet for the beaks and they are grouted in black. I think they look pretty good, here’s one…


This project took some planning.¬† The main problem being how to install them so they would be secure and wouldn’t¬† be prone to too much movement in the wind which could casue them to hit each other and break. My first idea was to weld the metal armature wires onto a vertical curved pole but I felt that the final piece would be too cumbersome and could be difficult to install. I then spent several days considering other options, such as welding them horizontally along a tube, onto rigid metal mesh, or inserting the bird wires into various types of tubing. Eventually I chose the latter idea using bamboo.¬† Not only was it a good support structure (the bird wires fitted perfectly into the bamboo sheath) but it would also blend in well with the reeds in the background. The bamboos are also strong and cheap.

So they were cut to various sizes and the holes drilled open and tried out and tested in my garden before sinking them into buckets of concrete.

Here I am mixing concrete to set the bamboos into.

Here I am mixing concrete to set the bamboos into

6 buckets later …

6 buckets

…and I am wondering if they will all go in the car to the site…

Come back next week to find out if they did and see the starlings installed! (hopefully!)


Alternatively, if you don’t live far away come to our Launch Day next Sunday 24th May at Somerset Crafts gallery (where there will be photos of the works as they progressed) and along Shapwick Heath for the Sculpture Trail. There will be several sculptures by fellow members of Somerset Crafts inspired by local wildlife and myth.

The Last Tree at Delamore

As luck would have it I got a message from a friend from Somerset Crafts who saw my post on facebook asking if anyone could recommend a courier for my 150kg sculpture. He is a stone sculptor so he has a heavy duty trolley and used to lifting heavy lumps of stone. Not only that he offered to drive it down to Delamore!

Here is John Candler lifting the sculpture into the van.


At Delamore I could choose the spot I wanted. There was a choice of open lawns or wooded areas. I went for a wooded area although I had imagined it would be good in an open space with no trees!

The Last Tree at Delamore view 1



If you want to read about the symbols and runes the are three posts about it click here for the final post (and back for the other two)

Delamore House

Delamore House

The Last Tree and Chorus at the Wake of the Sun will be resident at Delamore for the Delamore Arts exhibition for the month of May.  To see the catalogue of art click here

To see John Candler’s sculptures click here and here

Cherish the Ash

A PropheticTree (part 2)

I took lots of photos of the ash tree bark and chose the tiles I would use, which included some recycled floor tiles that have been in a dark corner of my garden for years and some of my own hand-made stoneware tiles.


I studied photos of Viking standing stones from Scandinavia and I wanted to copy the style of the naive pictures that were carved into the stones. (Not difficult for me as my style is already quite naive!)

I drew a picture of the 3 roots of Yggdrasill:

drawing of the roots

drawing of the roots

and mosaiced the design onto the side of the tree:


The first root leads to Asgard, the realm of the Norse Gods. Under the well of Urd live the¬†three Norns – “Fate” (Urd), “Being” (Skuld) and “Necessity” (Verdandi). They nourish Yggdrasil by sprinkling wet clay and water around the roots:


The three Norns

The second root leads to Jotunheim, realm of the frost giants, under which the bubbling spring of Mimir lies. Wise Mimir’s head was cut off by the Vanir and Odin set it here. To gain knowledge, Odin gives one of his own eyes for a sip from the spring. Here also lies Heimdall’s horn for the time when he needs it at Ragmarok. Heimdall is the watchman of the Gods, and a son of 9 sisters:


Mimir’s head (left) and Heimdall’s horn (curling around Odin’s eye)

I made Odin’s eye by fusing glass in my microwave kiln.

Odin's Eye

Odin’s Eye

And the third root delves down into the realm of Niflheim where the spring of Hvergelmir lies and the dragon Nidhogg. Nidhogg rips open corpses, and with many other serpents he gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasill:


The dragon Nidhogg

I used a deep copper gold stoneware tile that I made several years ago for the roots.

The Runes

Having sought scholarIy advice from several professors in Nordic studies, I decided to use the “Elder Futhark” runic language for the inscription. This language would have been used from the 2nd century AD to about the 8th Century AD¬†after which¬†the Younger Futhark was developed. The runes mean “Unna Yggdrasill” which roughly translated is Old Norse for “Cherish the Ash“. I have used a bit of artistic licence in using the Elder Futhark, as Old Norse actually corresponds with the Younger Futhark. However I found the Younger Futhark alphabet ¬†more difficult to use as it is shortened and not all the letters have a corresponding rune; several letters are shared with one rune. The Elder Futhark language corresponds with Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic which is an older language than Old Norse but not much different, and as some of the Norse myths are passed down from an older time I felt that perhaps I wasn’t serving it too much injustice!

As if carved into the bark, the runes are made by leaving spaces within the tiles and then grouted with red coloured grout.  Originally the carved runes on Viking standing stones were painted with a red pigment.

You read the runes from a clockwise direction and tilt your head so they are like this:

Unna (Cherish)

Unna (Cherish)

Yggdrasill (the Ash)

Yggdrasill (the Ash)

The Stags

The 4 stags, “Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr and Durathror¬†are nourished by eating Yggdrasill’s new leaves.




I used some more of my tiles I had made several years ago; an earthy green stoneware tile with rusty edges and patches. It was perfect to describe the lichen on the tree. And a brown green stoneware tile with a slight shine on the surface that I used as part of the bark:


The Grafitti

It’s interesting to think that the inscriptions on the Viking Age old standing stones were a form of¬†graffiti.¬† Many of them were memorials raised in memory of the deceased and often with the name or initials of the rune master. The drawings depicted Viking myths.

On my ash tree trunk there is a bit of bark that has been stripped off, that probably seared off when it was cut down, and the fresh wood has been inscribed with some modern graffiti ……¬† and just as the inscriptions of the standing stones would have had – the artists initials!


Come back soon and see the final part of  Yggdrasill Рthe top of the sculpture!