I'm currently living up in the town of Montrose on the North East coast of Scotland. There is a beautiful beach here and when the tide is out, you can walk for miles. I'm always on the look-out for interesting things brought in by the waves - shells, pebbles and driftwood for instance. Last week when I was feeling particularly low, the sea gave me a really generous present. Washed up on the sand were lots of broken plates and bits of crockery. I didn't have a bag with me, but nonetheless, I gathered them all up, grateful for the unexpected gift.
It's the one and only time I've seen this sort of stuff washed up in Montrose, but elsewhere I've been luckier. A few years ago I stayed on Tanera in the Summer Isles on the West coast of Scotland, and was always finding broken bits of china and sea glass along the shoreline. I remember making a mosaic mirror frame with the pieces I found, and I decided to do something along the same lines again.
Once home, I washed and dried the crockery, and laid out lots of old newspaper. Then I wrapped the ceramic in an old tea towel so that I could smash the pieces up one by one. Very theraputic. I also used tile nippers to give more shape to the pieces as I worked and to remove the sharpest points. ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES when smashing up and shaping your bits of china. You might also want to wear protective gloves. When you've finished breaking up the bits put them onto a clean bit of newspaper and carefully wrap and throw away anything you don't want in the old tea towel. Clean any surfaces with damp kitchen towel.
As well as the china I found on the beach, I added in a couple of charity shop plates bought locally for a couple of pounds. I needed a bit of brightness for the mosaic.
For my base I used a cheap terracotta flower pot and then bought a tub of all-in-one tile adhesive and grout. Using half an old clothes peg as a spatula, I stuck the broken pieces onto the pot one by one. I probably used a bit too much adhesive/grout to start with. It's better just to blob and stick the bits on one by one I think. As I worked, I also added in a few little ceramic favours or fèves that I found at brocantes in France during my Mobile Makery trip in the summer. These little figures come in all sorts of different designs and are hidden inside the Galette des Rois - a traditional cake brought out to celebrate the Epiphany. The person who finds the favour inside his or her slice of cake gets to wear a crown and make a wish!
As you can see, the pot looked a little rough and ready after the first 24 hours of drying - a bit like a crazy Christmas cake with too much icing! But then I grouted it carefully using a damp sponge, gently scraping back some of my over-enthusiastic gluing. I'm really pleased with the final result below, and it's a lovely momento of my walks along the beach in Montrose. A great idea for your own holidays.