Saturday, April 13, 2013

Step 8: Broken Plate Mosaic Mirrors

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

In this creative project, like in this step, we sort through the damage of our past to assess where we have been at fault.  We don't actually make any amends in this step, but we look at what amends may need to be made.  This process helps us to gain a clearer image of ourselves, thus my inclusion of the mirror element to this creative project.  I chose attractive or meaningful ceramics to break, which also reflects my love for the people who have made it onto my amends list.

Supplies needed:

1.  Lay rag or bag out on hard surface (you may want to use a piece of plywood if you don't have a hard surface you are willing to potential leave marks on).

2.  Place your ceramic plate, face down on the rag or in the bag.  Wrap the plate in the rag.

3.  Put your goggles on.

4.  Hammer the center of the plate.

5.  Unfold the rag to view your shards.  

6.  If the pieces are still too large, you can hammer them again, such as with this cup:

The first crack at it, didn't break it into small enough pieces, so I repositioned the pieces and took a second crack at it:

For the smaller items, I felt through the fabric of the bag to find the best place to hammer.  For plates, I found the rims along the bottom to be the most effective target.

7.  To create even smaller pieces or more specific shapes, you may prefer to use the tile nippers.  The tile nipper can be used to either break a large piece into smaller pieces or to nibble the edges of a small piece to create a specific shape.

8. Select your favorite shards for use in your mosaic.

9.  Lay your shards of ceramic on the beveled edge of the mirror tile.  Use the tile nippers to shape them to fit together as best you can.

10. Once you have your pieces in place, lift one at a time and apply Weld-bond glue to affix in place.  Apply glue to both the ceramic piece and the mirror and press together.

11.  Allow to dry for one hour.

12.  Throw away the rag or bag you used to collect the shards of ceramic.  Given the potential for cutting yourself with these shards, I do not recommend reusing these items.

Here is what my final mirror mosaic looked like:

This art project was very powerful for me and led to a dream where I made an amends that I was not able to make to the live person whom I'd harmed.  The dream was very healing.  Just like the harms I have done have harmed others, they always also harm myself.  

Although I was nervous, breaking the pretty ceramics, I'm glad that I was able to turn the damage into something beautiful and in the process, develop a clearer reflection of myself - just like in practicing the 8th step!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Step 2: Filling the God-Sized Hole

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

In recovery, there is often reference to what is called a "God-sized hole."  What is being referred to is the space inside us where we feel our emptiness and loneliness most acutely.  This is the space that we often attempt to fill up with our addiction of choice - whether that is through alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, or whatever compulsive behavior it is that we find most troubling.  It is referred to as a "God-sized Hole," because none of those other things can fill that void.  The only thing that can fill that void is our Higher Power.

For this project, I asked the group to use a box as a representation of their "God-sized Hole" and to fill it with representations of their Higher Power and/or of their recovery. This activity was inspired by artwork that can be found in a multitude of cultures - some refer to these boxes as nicho, retablo, or in secular culture, assemblage.

Alternatively, I invited the group to create more of a diorama or ex-voto, depicting a scene that highlights a miracle they have received as part of their recovery.


  • cigar boxes (or similar)
  • gold spray paint (or paint of another color if you prefer) and old newspaper or another protective surface for painting onto
  • found objects from nature, spiritual objects, recovery stickers or any other items that can be used to represent your Higher Power

Some of the boxes were in better condition than others.  Some I was able to provide to the group without modifying them.  But for the large number of boxes that contained text or images that did not seem in alignment with the project.  I spray-painted these boxes with gold spray paint.I picked up a bunch of old cigar boxes and other boxes that I thought could serve well as a medium from which to create a "God-sized Hole."

Some of the boxes were in better condition than others.  Some I was able to provide to the group without modifying them.  But a large number of boxes contained text or images that did not seem in alignment with the project.  I spray-painted these boxes with gold spray paint.

For my purposes, I used Rustoleum gold, as that is the spray paint I had on hand.  But any type of paint will do, so long as you paint enough layers to cover the underlying text and/or images.

I recommend examining all sides of the boxes, including the insides. Some of my boxes only needed paint on 5 sides, but several had print and images inside the box, so I painted their insides as well.

Here is how they looked after their initial coats of paint.  The box in the very front needed a little extra paint where you can see the underlying black showing through.  Alternatively, you can paint a primer white over the boxes before using the colored paint, but I just doubled up on the gold paint in these areas.

Then, I provided a variety of "God-oriented" artifacts that could be used to decorate the interior of the box.  I tried to be as inclusive of as many religious affiliations as possible, as well as include artifacts that would be appreciated by both the atheists and pagans in our group.  The inexpensive objects I provided included:

One could use whatever symbolism they choose that feels like the best reflection of their Higher Power.  Your representation may be something entirely different than anything on this list.

Here is the God-Sized Hole box I ended up creating.  The butterfly plays the central role of the box, as I have relied heavily on the butterfly's representation of metamorphosis and change to remind me of the better things to come as I continue in my recovery.  The beads in the bottom of the box, below the butterfly are prayer beads I picked up while traveling in Egypt.

On the inside of the box door, I have Kwan-Yin to remind me to be compassionate with both myself and others.  And the labyrinth around and leading to Kwan-Yin, reminds me to meditate and maintain conscious contact with my Higher Power.

I put an abundance of butterflies on the front of the door to the box to represent the many miracles I have seen manifested in my life through my practice of the 12 steps in various programs.

What will you use to fill up your God-sized hole?