The Making of a Mosaic Bird Bath

I’ve been thinking I need a bird bath.  You may wonder why, to make a long story shorter, I just recently, within the past few months, got my courage up to set my bird feeders back out.  Now I know that sounds strange, but when I first moved to this house, I set up my bird feeders at the back of the property. One night, with the help of a flashlight, I saw a big black bear sitting down helping himself to my bird seed.  The next day down they came.  I missed watching the birds.  Deciding to be brave, I put my bird feeders back up, this time I  placed them near the house.  I figured, either that would deter the bear, or at least I’d get a good view of him eating my birdseed. 🙂   Of course, now I needed a bird bath.  I’ve been looking but couldn’t find one that I really liked. Then the other day I salvaged a clay saucer from someone’s trash (sshhh).   I had seen other people use these as bird baths but what would I use as a pedestal?  Then I remembered, I had purchused some 6″ pvc pipe to put in my pond as safe haven, from the blue heron, for my Koi.  The Koi refused to use them, so I would use this and just mosaic it.

Following are directions for how I made my bird bath.

Supplies:  6″ PVC, saucer for bath, tile or ceramic plates or anything you would like to use to cover the PVC, sandpaper,  tile mortar, sanded grout, grout sealer, baby wire brush (not necessary but helpful), tile trowel (not necessary but also helpful), hammer, paint scraper to apply grout, and safety glasses.

Tile and Plates for covering PVC

Tile Mortar, Grout, and Grout Sealer

Here’s the fun part, using a hammer, break the tile and plates into small pieces.  You should wear safety glasses when doing this.

Break Tile and Plates

Lightly sand the PVC so the mortar will adhere better.  Mix tile mortar according to instructions.  I used half the bag, but should have only used one third, I had a lot left over.  Also, I didn’t use the premixed kind, because the tile guy at Lowes said “the kind in the bag holds up better in outdoor situations” (sure hope he’s right).   After the mixing is done, apply the mortar in small sections, so it will not dry out, this I learned from experience.  Next place tile.

Applying mortar and tile

Continue placing tile until the PVC is fully covered.  Note:  I did not apply tiles to the bottom 6″ because I am going to bury it to keep it from tipping over, this is probably not necessary, just personal preference.

Cover PVC except bottom 6″

After mortar has dried, mix grout per instructions.  I used about one third of the bag, I also used grout boost.  You do not have to use this, but once again, the tile guy at Lowes said, ” this would help with the elements” (again hope he’s right).  After mixing is completed, apply grout make sure you get it down in all the creveses.

Apply grout

As the grout dries use the baby wire brush to remove excess grout.  You will want the grout to dry a little but not all the way.  If it is too soft you will remove too much from in between the tiles, but if it’s too dry it will be a beast to remove.  I suggest you just test a small section to see if it’s dry enough.

Use baby wire brush to remove excess grout

Once the grout is almost completely dry use a damp cloth to completely remove remaining grout and haze from tiles.  This may take time, just keep at it until the tile is nice and shiny.

Remove all excess grout and haze from tile

Once the grout has completely dried your are ready to place your bird bath out in your garden. 🙂   I  put a few rocks in the back in hopes butterflies would also use it, though I’m not sure how that will go.

Completed Mosaic Bird Bath

If anyone is interested in making one of these, the cost is about $30 each, not counting the saucer, I don’t know how much those cost.  To keeep cost down; check local tile stores, they always have scraps they will give away, (most times they will only have nuetral colors, I use some nuetral colors along with the colorful), also look for colorful plates at garage sale and thrift stores, the flatter the plate the more usable pieces you will get.   I purchased my  6″ PVC at a plumbing store.  It only comes in 10 ft pieces which will make at least three, depending on how tall you want your bird bath.  I paid around $20 for this a few years ago.  The draw back is since the PVC, mortar, grout, and grout sealers are only sold in quantities to make three bird baths, the cost of $30 each only applies if you make three.  But Christmas will be here before you know it, I’m sure we all know someone who would like one of these. 🙂  Did I just tip my hand?   The time in labor to build the bird bath is approximately 5 hrs (not including drying time), give or take depending on experience.   If you have any questions I’ll help if I can, just drop me a line at charsgardening@yahoo.com.

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32 Responses to The Making of a Mosaic Bird Bath

  1. I’ve never thought about tiling PVC pipe but what a great idea. I have a post showing how I did mosaic on a birdbath. But I only did the shallow bowl part. This turned out very pretty and I can’t believe you did all that work indoors. It is a great Christmas idea… thanks for the how-to.
    Meems

  2. Donna says:

    Very nice job. Love the crafty gardeners.

  3. Charlotte, your birdbath turned out fabulous! If the bear decides to forgo the feeders, and try out the new bath instead though, I hope you have your video camera handy! 😛

  4. Very creative and great idea! I love Bird baths. Thanks for visiting my blog, let me know how the roasted salsa turns out. Have a great week!

  5. Missy says:

    The birds will love it… and the butterfies too. I’d never thought of using PVC but it looks great.

  6. meemsnyc says:

    Wow, you saw a bear eating your birdseed!! I’d be taking down all the feeders too! LOL. I love your DIY birdbath! What an awesome idea!

  7. Char that was a very comprehensvie lesson. On my list is to learn how to do pebble mosaics. This post bumps it up the ladder!

  8. Jennah says:

    That’s gorgeous! A couple years ago I got some pretty little small tiles online (Mosaics by Maria) and bought cheap Christmas balls from the dollar store. I mosaiced those and gave them as gifts. They were gorgeous, cheap, easy, and a total hit! Plus, they can be set in bowls as year-round decorations.

  9. Deanna ; the coolest person ever. :) says:

    I really like you’re bird bath. It turned out really good. 🙂 wish I coulda been there to make mosaics together. <3

    • Charlotte says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog!! 🙂 Kahlo gets in lots of my post. Maybe next time your home we’ll do some tile mosaic on something. I found that I like using tile better than glass, maybe cause it’s bigger pieces or that you get to break stuff first. 🙂 Keep studying hard!!

  10. Deanna ; the coolest person ever. :) says:

    p.s. i like how kahlo is in the picture.

  11. kimberly says:

    This is the best idea ever!!!! I’m in! Thanks so much for sharing!!! Your bird bath and mosaid job is fantastic!!

  12. Patricia Harkness says:

    Great job! I never thought of doing this, but yours looks wonderful. I am going to mosaic my glass-top outside table as the glass always stays dirty and I think it will be pretty. The hardest part for me is breaking up beautiful old dishes to make the design! I have done a couple of items and it breaks my heart to take a hammer to those dishes…:)

  13. Nancy Bond says:

    Absolutely beautiful!

  14. Wendy says:

    WOW!! It’s gorgeous!! I hope it was as fun as it looked. Boy did I read this post with lots of excitement!

  15. Nice job, a lovey little project and a great feature in the garden.

  16. Gail says:

    I love mosaics and have a few projects in the works. The pvc is a great idea and it’s beautiful~gail

  17. Alice Joyce says:

    Char
    You’re obviously a like-minded mosaic lover!
    And mosaics in the garden are simply the best.
    This is a great project,
    Alice
    aka Bay Area Tendrils
    …found you on Blotanical;-))

  18. JC says:

    That’s a lovely bird bath! I am not good at DIY (lack of patience is more like it) but I admire those who are able to produce beautiful items out of their DIY effort. You are very creative!

  19. tina says:

    Ha! I had seen this post on Blotanical and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is now a project on my to do list. I think the use of the PVC is ingenius. It sure turned out nice.

    P.S. You asked where I got rectangular glass pieces. Hobby Lobby or Michaels usually has a great selection of glass gems of all types. The array is just awesome and so I used them all.

  20. Pingback: Care for Bird Baths « Gardora.net

  21. YellowRoseTX says:

    I love the PVC idea and I’ve been looking for something unique to do; great tutorial; I will use all 3 of these myself! We are in the country with lots of space…but I may think about gifts as well, good idea.

  22. carruth says:

    rather than “plant” the pipe in the ground, i placed it in a large planter and planted nice flowers around it. made my back yard and the butterflies love it.

  23. Susan says:

    How is your bird bath holding up to the elements? Do you leave it outside year round? It’s really a great idea.

    • Charlotte says:

      Yes I leave it out all year. I’m in the panhandle of florida so we don’t get really hard freezes. If I build another one I think I will use silicone to attach the tile pieces and then grout between tiles. I have had to reattach a few tiles but for the most part it has held up very well.

  24. denise says:

    Greetings, how long have your projects been outside? Have they been through a winter yet. How are you holding up? Thanks – so many questions because my community is developing a community art project the plan is for 3 8 ft totem poles. Thanks
    Denise

  25. denise says:

    sorry for my redundant questions. I hadn’t bothered to read the other comments before posting mine. Thanks

  26. Carol says:

    Char, Just wanted to drop a note/comment to say thank you for taking the time to write up and post this mosaic tutorial. We are moving to the country soon and I definitely need some bird feeders and bird baths to attract and be able to enjoy Mother nature and retirement in our little piece of central TX.

  27. Tania Vancini says:

    I have had pvc pipe for three years now, hoping to mosaic outdoor pedestals for my garden. I was told, however, that the grout would never last in on pvc in New England weather. May I ask how long ago you made this bird bath, where in the country you live and how it’s holding up? It’s beautiful!

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Tania, I live in Florida and have had my birdbath for about six years. I had to do some repairs last year as the tiles had loosened from the pvc. I think if I made another I would adhere the tiles yo the pvc with silicone or liquid nails and then grout between them. For me the grout was not the trouble. I read here the tiles that had loosen with silicone and you can’t even tell. Overall I am still very happy with the outcome.

  28. Juan Olmo says:

    My dear friends, please tell me: How is the thinset holding up on that plastic pipe. From personal experience liquid-naild on fiber glass is excellent under hot sun, or rain.

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