Tuesday, August 21, 2012

All things are difficult before they are easy.....


On my studio wall I have this quote:

All things are difficult before they are easy. 
Italian Proverb

It's one of my favorite sayings. I try to remember it but I fail miserably often. I stitched it on a pillow which was featured in my book Colorful Stitchery....

Photo by Kevin Kennefick
(You see the second pillow says "creativity comes out of chaos" - another favorite saying of mine.....) 

After my August Knitting Retreats wound down, I kicked myself in the butt and decided to actually do something I have been thinking about for at least a decade. I love handmade pottery (made some myself at one time) and antique jugs, vases, pitchers, plates. Our farmhouse is decorated with all kinds and for me, there is nothing like drinking a cup of coffee or tea from a handmade or antique mug.  Sadly, they don't always survive. I have been saving every single broken plate, cup, and bowl hoping to one day do pique assiette. It has always seemed rather daunting....

The Italian Proverb I quoted above is so true. I've gotten good at certain crafts and techniques but trying something new is always a bit of a stretch for anyone. After seeing how much fun my students had with their lampshades, the painting and the act of learning something new, I took the leap. It started like this - a pile of broken junk and a hammer and tile nippers. A few good books listed at the end of this post were helpful but until I finished the first garden pot, I really didn't feel confident.


With a hammer and some tile nippers it starts to look like this...


Then I applied the acrylic adhesive (sometimes known as "mastic") - first to the pot with a putty knife, then to the back of the shards with the same putty knife. I actually found that my artist's palette knife I usually use for oil painting was incredibly helpful and I will  use it when I make more pique assiette pots. I worked a section at a time - approximately 1/3 of the bottom of the pot is finished below. I set it to dry overnight.... then worked the next section.


With this first pot, my plan was to break up different bowls and plates and make them into stripes up the side of the pot. This was a good plan but turned into a nightmare because I was going for color (no surprise) and many of my shards were concave not convex. I did it anyway. Before grouting you must wait 24 hours for the mastic to dry. There is a lot of waiting in this project.

Terra cotta pot before grouting
I used a premixed gray colored grout and built up over the sharp edges of the concave pieces of tile. No clue how this will last the test of time but it is a start. I had to work it in sections and the grouting happened over a total week of drying and waiting and fitting it into my day. Here is the finished pot - without flowers of course. If I was smarter, I would have begun with a smaller pot but then I'm me.


My plan is to make a couple new pots for the garden each summer. We shall see if that happens. Some good plans go awry. At any rate, I'll share the second one I am working on when it gets finished. Some helpful books follow in case anyone else is nutty like me saving their broken plates and bowls in their basement too.

Making Mosaics by Leslie Dierks
Making Bits and Pieces Mosaics for the Home by Marlene Hurley Marshall

11 comments:

Claire said...

I love the idea of mosaicing flower pots and this looks very good. My first thought is that the grey grout is slightly overwhelming - I think the pieces needed to be closer together or perhaps white grout would have thrown the colours into more relief. I think you would have struggled with a smaller pot because getting ceramic to fit nicely on a steep curve would be very awkward. This is a brilliant start I can't wait to see how you follow it on. If you can find some of the books by Kaffe Fassett, he also loves mosaic and has covered everything from flower pots to old toilets and walls with it.

Rose said...

They look great! Mosaic has been on my wish list for years! Thanks for the inspiration and the book suggestions.

Firefly Farm said...

I think it's fabulous, and the best part is it has your signature style about it. Love the idea of the stripes. When a piece is too curved one way or another I just cut it into smaller pieces. Have you looked at the Google images for "Mosaic Flower Pots?" very inspiring.
I always use gray grout, but first dump in a bunch of fine copper or gold glitter. Love!

GirlRural.com said...

A nice way to enjoy your treasures for years to come!

Kieren Dutcher said...

Looks great! I haven't tried it on pots, but I love the mosaic stepping stones my kids and I made...over several summers. They have moved with us to 3 different houses, and I'll always bring them with us.We used marbles and mirrors along with broken pottery. I'll try to do a blog post, and send you the link. I've made them with my students,too, and they have lasted for years. Very fun! but yes, lots of waiting!

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

Since we moved to this farm, 12 years ago, I've been finding and saving shards of crockery that keep coming to the surface in the yard around our old house, thinking it would be fun to do a project with them. 100 years ago, there was a log house here that burned down and I've even found pieces with the scorch marks still visible. You've given me an idea to work with now! Love the look of your flower pot.

Tobie said...

Thanks so much for this post. I've been saving my old broken plates too-just for this type of work.
Some of them are my mom's plates and bowls from when I was growing up so they have sentimental meaning too.
Thanks for the book list also-I wasn't sure how to go about it.

Daisy said...

Thank you so much for this post! I love mosaic but I'd never heard of pique assiette. Your flower pot looks fabulous!

Bonnie said...

I need to stitch that saying on a pillow as well! Thanks. The flower pot looks amazing. I love that you repurposed things that you loved but were no longer able to serve their original purpose.

Jane said...

I save my broken crockery! It takes the hurt out of losing the piece knowing that some day(!) it will appear in a mosaic! I have Kaffe Fassett's book for inspiration and instruction.

Best wishes, and love the new header,

Jane

Jane said...

I save my broken crockery! It takes the hurt out of losing the piece knowing that some day(!) it will appear in a mosaic! I have Kaffe Fassett's book for inspiration and instruction.

Best wishes, and love the new header,

Jane