Mosaic Flower Pot Planters

Mosaic Flower Pot in California courtyard.

Artist Morgan Halford‘s mosaic flower pot planters are colorful geometric abstracts executed with a spooky level of precision.

I like that they are exceptions to my general recommendation to work in a looser fashion in the uniformity of the sizing, shaping, and orienting of tiles.

TIP: Most people find that they can render images more effectively if they tolerate a little error in each of the pieces. By effectively, I mean they can render an image that is truer to the model while working faster at the same time. Instead of requiring each piece fit exactly, let slight errors be your grout gap. That approach is easier than planning a larger and more uniform grout gap.

Morgan wasn’t rendering an image. She was making abstract geometric patterns, and the uniformity of the spacing was an important part of the design for her. The effect is striking.

Mosaic Flower Pot Series with wheel motif by artist Morgan Halford
Mosaic Flower Pot Series with wheel motif by artist Morgan Halford

A Large Grout Gap

Morgan also use a relatively large grout gap, and that makes the exact positioning of each tile even more difficult.

Notice how widely the rings of rectangular tiles are spaced at their outer edge! I wouldn’t have even tried to lay out those wheels of rectangular tiles without the use of what engineers and machinists call a gauge.

Morgan tells me she just eyeballed where she put the tiles.

For some people, a high level of precision comes naturally.

For many people (including myself) it does not come naturally.

The important thing is to not be discouraged if you do not have a natural precision in your drawing or handiwork. You can learn simple techniques for working more precisely.

Mosaic Flower Pot Series pastel in light by artist Morgan Halford
Mosaic Flower Pot Series pastel in light by artist Morgan Halford

Making a Spacing Gauge

A gauge in this usage is a merely a simple spacing tool, with the same general idea as a sparkplug gapper. You insert the gauge and make the gap that size.

To make a gauge to make those wheels of tile, I would have arranged the tile in a wheel pattern on a flat surface and arranged them as best I could in an evenly-spaced circle. (I would have probably used a circular plastic lid to show me how big the inside of the wheel should be.)

Once I got the tile roughly arranged around my plastic lid, I would cut a piece of pasteboard (cereal box) the width of the average gap and then tested it in each gap.

Then I would decide if the pasteboard needed to be slightly wider or slightly narrower. Then I would cut a second piece of pasteboard and test that one, which would probably be good enough to be my gauge.

In factories, spacing gauges are usually plastic or wood (or even metal is scratching the material isn’t important but precision is).

My spacing gauges tend to be pasteboard in the studio and wood in the shop.

Materials and Methods

Clay flower pots are fragile. You can reinforce them with fiberglass mesh and thinset on the inside and out, but that adds weight, as does the mosaic.

Thinset mortar should be used for mosaics on clay flower pots. White PVA adhesives such as Weldbond shouldn’t be used for mosaics that get wet or damp.

Flower Pots as Planters

Thinset mortar functions as a hydraulic cement, and a mosaic installed on a clay flower pot prevents the pot from draining properly and drowns the roots of the plant.

For this reason, mosaic flower pots should be used as planters with a smaller plastic flower pot inside them, preferably with the plastic pot set up on a scattering of gravel on the bottom.

Mosaic Flower Pot in California courtyard.
Mosaic Flower Pot in beautiful California courtyard.
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6 responses to “Mosaic Flower Pot Planters”

  1. Thank you for this post. I live in Arizona and make mosaic flower pots also. My tiles are very close and grout lines very thin. I have found thin set difficult to work with so use Weldbond. Since AZ has such little rain and dry heat, I thought deteriorating pots would be less of a threat. I have been sealing my pots with a Behr product, low luster sealer, inside the pot and over the tiles once completed. I’d love your thoughts on this.

    • Hi Maria,

      I hear you and understand. I have used Weldbond for all sorts of applications outside. The key to making it work is is sealing the project from all sides and making sure that the project is never immersed or sat on the ground, even on edge. The only reason I don’t have that sort of qualified recommendation in our instructional content is that people tend to ignore the caveats and think only in terms of yes or no.

      • Joe,
        Whew! Thanks for your response. I’m relieved to hear sealing can protect against the elements. We have the mosaic pots all over our garden and they’ve held up very well. A friend loves them so much she uses them in the house for all kinds of things- tv clickers, utensil holder, pens…
        I so enjoy reading your blog.
        Best to you, Maria

  2. It would have been great if you’d included an image of one of your spacers in use, so we with limited imaginations could follow along more easily. Morgan’s work is spectacular!

    • Hi Bradley,

      The last spacing gauge I used was a popsicle stick with a little bit shaved off the edge. A spacing gauge can be made from anything and look different based on the application. I have used a simple penny widthwise and three pennies glued together in a stack for a different job.

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