When I was a kid growing up in California, I was always reminded of my grandfathers Swedish heritage. He came from a family of immigrants who had come through Ellis Island and made a life out of nothing. But my baseball loving, cocktail drinking, poker playing grandmother was English and German, a fact that was rarely mentioned. In her sewing room sat an old blue Carr's biscuit tin covered with drawings of English royalty. Queen Elizabeth the First stared off into the distance while fat King Henry and prissy Sir Walter Raleigh glared from the sides.
Full of buttons, I found it fascinating and would pour over the contents, always looking for something new. After my grandmother died, the button tin moved into my mothers craft room and when she died onto my shelf.
This winter I became convinced I had an ugly pot problem that could only be fixed by creating something with all those buttons. Maybe I've just spent too much time at my favorite DC art gallery drooling over the mixed media art, but at no point during my delusion did it ever occur to me that I have no ability to create anything artistic. I just knew I was one button away from absolute amazingness.
Game Fish by Larry Fuentes, created using found objects,
is one of my favorite pieces of art.
I spent my weekends and snow days pouring over my grandmother's buttons, ordering more when the tin didn't offer what I felt I needed. Grand designs began to hatch and my latest project soon migrated to the dining room, where it stayed for months. At some point my confidence should have wavered, stumbled, and crashed, tumbling into the black depths of self awareness. But it didn't.
Auguste Renior's Luncheon of the Boating Party
Just to clarify - I rarely work topless.
When Plan A, a design that required hours of wire wrapping, only looked good while lying flat on the table but resembled Kindergarten Craft Hour when placed on the planter, I knew I had to start over. Super Simple Plan B worked well for a few weeks but soon fell apart and Plan C never made it past the mental design stage before I finally realized I had zero ability to create it.
Plan B originally called for three button swags of varying sizes. But several of the buttons cracked and faded in the sun before falling apart so I never added the additional strands.
With the new school year fast approaching and my free time shrinking, I knew I had to face up to the fact that I have only two artistic skills: 1) making a huge mess and 2) sticking stuff to other stuff. Since I have only ever successfully made one thing, it seemed wise to replicate it - with buttons.
So I did.
So I did.
Using tile mosaic mortar, I covered an old metal birdbath with buttons and beads and then coated it with marine-grade epoxy resin.
I also used beads and charms that say "Be Yourself".
I created the design as I went along.
Many of the buttons are reminders of people I love.
My birdbath reflects me: quirky and colorful.
Considering the recent shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, I paused before adding the Pittsburgh Police button. The mystery of why my grandmother kept this uniform button intrigued me, but adding it to the mosaic served to remind me that the actions of a few do not define the whole. It helped turn an old birdbath into my own time capsule and political statement, even if the only person reading between the lines was me.
Once I had finished the design, I was ready to paint the bird and coat it in resin.
I used blue exterior spray paint.
The entire design has been coated in resin. A thicker layer covers the bottom of the bowl to protect the design from standing water. This waterproof resin is designed for boats and is UV-resistant to prevent yellowing and cracking.
My design is safe under a layer of resin.
How to make a bird bath mosaic:
1. Find a metal birdbath and clean it off.
2. Mix up a batch of Mosaic and Glass Mortar until it's the consistency of cake frosting.
3. Spread it on the birdbath.
4. Stick stuff in it the mortar.
5. Coat it in resin.
6. That's it.
This was a really easy project.