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How Do You Make A Bird Bath?


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#1 Bob Coyle

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:24 PM

So I thought I would make ceramic bird baths for some of my outdoor sculptures... It's just a big plate...what could go wrong??

 

Well first off, I decided to just go with an 18 inch slab with upturned rims. I dried it too fast and the lovely upturned rim detached itself from the body.

 

So maybe I was stressing the clay around the rim by just bending it up by hand and paddling it on the outside. So I rolled out another slab and brought it to almost leather hard with a heat gun and slapped it down on an 18 inch bat on my wheel. I spun the edge up as I normally would for a plate, and worked the bottom of the container with a rib to try to minimize s cracks.

 

Well the bird baths are now drying ...slowly... but I noticed that the center has a slight upward bulge. I sprayed it with water to soften it and pushed it back down, but as soon as it got dryer, the bulge was back.

 

The good news is that the rim is holding on this time. Lord knows what will happen when I fire it.

 

So any of you large platter makers...What am I doing wrong and How do you do it right?



#2 oldlady

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 06:36 PM

slab bird baths are easier to make inside a large light fixture cover.  the kind that fit fairly flat against a ceiling with a central hole to screw the glass to the light base.  that curve is very gentle and will allow birds the shallow water that works best for them.  if you can't find one of those glass covers, try a pillow.  cover a soft pillow with a plastic dry cleaner bag after bunching it up to the shape you want.

 

if you want a really big one, tie a rubber bungee cord around a large trash can with an old sheet over the top and give the cloth enough slack to make the shape you want.  like a hammock that is round.  this is a great way to make something big without using up a lot of studio space.  that trash can can be anywhere for as long as you like while the slab dries.

 

throwing one is just a little trickier.  if you can handle a very large thrown platter, just round it from the base outward and then trim the bottom.

 

the fun of making a birdbath is what you can add to the center for the birds to stand on.


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#3 LinR

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 06:45 PM

I had a problem with a shallow bird bath dish placed on a round hollow stand.  There are raccoons in the area.  They like to drink the water too.  So two paws up on the edge of the dish and BAM! One smashed dish on the ground as the critter brought it right over.  I solved the problem by adding a very deep foot to the dish so it could not be tipped off it's pillar. L



#4 Min

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 07:07 PM

Uneven drying, exacerbated by the diameter of the pot will cause that lift in the middle. Think you probably helped contribute to this by using your heat gun on the edge. Cover the rims and sides, top and bottom, with wax resist or snug plastic, leave the center of the pot exposed to the air. If only using plastic then put some tiny weights on the edge of it to keep it in place, no plastic or resist in the middle of the pot. Some people put a bag of dried beans in the center to force it to stay flat but you run the risk of cracking it with this method. When the pot is soft leather hard try putting it on a rack of some sort to allow air flow underneath as well as from the top to help even out the drying but keep the plastic on the edge until the middle is firm leather hard. If you use resist instead of plastic still dry it slowly.



#5 D.M.Ernst

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 07:39 PM

Actually, the hump in the middle might be for the better.  The little birds use the middle, the bigger birds use the edges.

 

I put a slab into a circular plastic sled.  When it's leather hard I invert it and add a deep foot which fits into the 24" high base that I also make.  I do cover the edges of the bowl while the center drys.  I don;t have raccoon problems because of the deep foot, but sometimes the deer knock it over, they also need a drink now and again.

 

I realize sleds might not be available in New Mexico. 

 

Sometimes I make my bowl with the imprint of a large rhubarb leaf and those have never distorted. 



#6 oldlady

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 10:06 PM

another good thing about birdbaths is that they can be hung from 3 points.  a chain into a tree above allows the bath to swing freely, no support needed underneath.  that only works if you have the right space to put it, though, and a willing tree.


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#7 yappystudent

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 10:12 PM

It depends on whether or not the bird wants to bathe:

 

 

Sorry :D


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#8 Mark C.

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 03:19 PM

I 1st would take A poll of local birds to see what they wanted -like heated water -warm towels-seeds nearby.

Work from there.


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#9 LeeU

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:01 PM

And don't forget the squirrels...they will really love it to pieces. Nice of you to think of them. 


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#10 Bob Coyle

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 07:43 PM

I'm not to worried about the squirrels... The neighbors bird bath was knocked over by a bear. 

 

Thanks for all the good advice. I'll have another go at it and try out some of the suggestions.






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