House plants are a great addition to any home and stylish planters make them even more part of your decor. We asked artist and surface designer Dana Finnigan to share her favorite method for making a handmade tile planter — which you can customize with your own pattern. Take it away Dana....
- 10 x 10 cm Tiles (or, for U.S. residents, tile like this from Home Depot)
- 9m Plywood
- Sharpie Paint Markers (standard ones won't work)
- 2mm Tile Spacers
- Tile Grout
- White Acrylic Paint
- All Purpose Sealant
- Cotton Wool
- Multipurpose Cleaning Wipes
1. First, decide what size of planter you would like to make. For 10cm (or 4 inch) tiles, they always need to be a multiple of those measurements to fit the tiles. For this demonstration, I decided to make a planter that was 30 cm wide by 20 cm tall by 30 cm deep.
2. Cut your wood. Many stores offer a free of charge cutting service, so I had the 9 mm plywood pieces cut to scale at the hardware store for free. I had two pieces cut at 300 x 200 mm, two pieces cut at 291 x 200 mm and one cut at 291 mm squared (for the base panel).
3. Secondly you need to figure out how many tiles you need. For my 30 cm wide by 20 cm tall by 30 cm deep I need 18 tiles. Then clean the tiles with acetone to make sure they are clean before printing.
4. Lay out your tiles in a row to the same height and length the planter is when all the sides are added together. This will make it easier to draw a repeating pattern on the tiles.
5. Now you can start drawing your pattern on the tiles. I have chosen an abstract design with dot and mark making but you can draw whatever pattern you like. Remember to draw across tiles as that will make them easier to put back together when you take them out of the oven later.
6. Don't get too invested in the colours as they will darken and change when baked in the oven. Also don't go too heavy on the black as it can start to flake when it gets too thick. Below is a picture of how they can change but as a guide Orange will go dark reddish brown, Blues will go green, Purple goes dark pink, Red will go very dark, Lime will turn sage and White will yellows (if painting on Black Tiles which can also be done but stick to paler colours!)
7. Draw your pattern on all the tiles required and leave for at least 24 hours before baking to make sure the tiles are completely dry.
8. After leaving the tiles to dry, bake them in the oven for two hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit and then let them cool in the oven. This will bake the Sharpie into the glaze of the tile.
9. While the tiles are baking, put together the box for the planter. I just used small nails and a hammer but you could also screw the box together if you like or even use a glue gun if you're not planning to move the planter around too much.
10. Now you need to paint the box. This will help the tile grout stay on the outside of the box but it will also make the inside of the box look clean. Then paint the sealant on the inside of the box. This will keep the planter water tight.
11. Take the tiles out of the oven and put them back together again like a jigsaw puzzle. You can then begin the process of tiling the planter.
12. As the planter doesn't need to be tiled to the same standard as if it were a bathroom or kitchen wall you don't have to be a perfectionist with these. I just squeeze a little grout on to the back of each tile like so as opposed to grouting the side of the box.
13. Put the first bottom right tile on to the bottom right hand side of the first box. Make sure it is even with the side and the bottom of the box. You can turn the box on its side for this first tile to make sure its square to both sides.
14. Put the first tile spacer in on the top left hand side of the tile and pop in the next tile on this side. Put a spacer between these tiles near the bottom to keep the spacing even. Put the next spacer in at the top left hand side of that tile and then pop the next tile in alongside that. You can now start putting the top row of tiles. Fit spacers between the bottom and top row of tiles for spacing.
15. Repeat on all other sides of the box following the repeat of the tiles until all tiles are in place.
16. Leave the tiles to dry for 24 hours and then grout in between the tiles. Remove the extra tile spacers and begin to grout. I have a grouting tool to push the grout into the gaps but a piece of cardboard will work just as well or you could even your fingers.
17. After you have filled in all the gaps with grout, use a cleaning wipe to gently clean off the grout on the tiles. Leave grout to dry for another 24 hours and then your planter will ready to out a plant in!
Dana Finnigan is an interior surface pattern design company based in Glasgow, Scotland. She is a print designer who offers a wide range of interior products including wallpaper, cushions, and ceramics and printed bathroom suites, and has worked for places like Timorous Beasties and the Centre for Advanced Textiles at Glasgow School of Art. You can see more of her work over at Dana Finnigan.