Our friend’s home burned down. It was a spectacular home and we were all saddened by the news that this beautiful home had burned to the ground. I had painted a chinoiserie design on a buffet for her a couple of years before and as I left, I mentioned I was working on a mosaic birdbath. She was intrigued and said she wanted to talk to me about making one for her garden.
And then word came of her home burning. All I could think about was all the memories that had been made in this home over the past 40+ years. That’s when I decided to try and get some of her china to make her birdbath. I thought about it a few days and then called a mutual friend to see if she might know who I could call to gather dishes.
As it turned, out my friend wanted to help with the project also. I had helped her last year complete a birdbath for her friend, so I was happy she wanted to be a part of the surprise. She called our friend’s son to see if he could gather some plates and dishes for us from the ashes. He was all on board to surprise his mother.
The fire actually burned for days and there was very little to salvage, but he was able to collect enough for the Beauty From Ashes Birdbath. We were so excited. This picture shows a few of the leftover dishes we didn’t use. Talk about dirty dishes. We had to “do the dishes” before we could get started!
The fire was over a year ago and the new house has been well underway all year long. This past month we began working on the birdbath. Scrubbing and washing all the usable dishes and china was the first order of business.
I wish I had taken a before photo of the burned plates. They were a mess.
Then we started cutting the pieces and deciding which colors to use. Most were blues, reds and oranges so the decision was made for us. I just hoped these were dishes that meant something and not some obscure dishes found in the rubble.
Her son offered to help with his mother’s gift and we were so glad he did. As it turned out he is very artistic himself! And pretty talented at cutting tiles.
We laid out the shards to make sure we had enough. And how much of each color. My friend said she would work on the layout later that day.
The road to decide on an arrangement of the colors and design took several turns… All day we sent messages back and forth with photos and suggestions until finally we arrived at the perfect layout. It’s nice to have a friend who loves creating as much as I do. We’re kindred spirits. Eventually we arrived at a design and we are so pleased with the final results.
For interest my friend added a couple of handles from a teacup and mug, as well as a bow from a Christmas decoration.
They were a perfect addition!
How cute is that? I can just picture the little birds perching here before diving into the water for a bath!
The center was from a treasured piece of pottery her brother had given as a gift, something we would not have known without her son being there! So we made it the focal point. Glass beads add sparkle and shine to birdbaths and so we made sure to use them along the border and gently sprinkled inside.
When all the grouting was finished I painted the base a navy blue. It’s not necessary, but we thought it finished off the birdbath nicely. I had painted my poppy birdbath base and liked the look.
Sunday we delivered the birdbath. Our friend was delighted and recognized every single piece of china and where it had been in the house…urns on the mantle, platter on a table, the china she was serving her dinner guests from the night of the fire….her brother’s pottery gift…the Christmas bow, their mugs and coffee cups. That was priceless to me. I wanted the birdbath to bring happy memories and it seems as if it will.
And for another surprise, her son took extra shards to his young nieces and taught them to make stepping stones to match the birdbath. They were the icing on the cake. The youngest granddaughter was beside herself with excitement to give them to her GiGi on Sunday.
Our Beauty from Ashes Birdbath turned out to be stunning…..at least we think so!
As we were working on the birdbath, I was reminded of how God takes the broken pieces of our lives and transforms them into something beautiful. If we will trust Him with our broken places, He can make us useful in ways we never dreamed. And even though we may have many ‘broken places” in our lives this experience has shown me that the more brokenness we have, the more chances we have of ‘the beautiful’ shining through. We simply need to entrust our lives to the hand of the Creator.
Something beautiful, something good…all my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.
Bill and Gloria Gaither