Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Firmly Planted

The grading is finished, which means the May vay-cay can officially begin.

Not that I'm going to be doing a lot of vacationing, really.  I need to get back in shape after a winter of illness and busy-ness and work, so in that spirit, I've been heading to the pool.

And in a fit of wonderful chance, as I was leaving the pool and thinking about how I need to get in shape, I just happened to bump into my former boxing coach.  Who just happened to tell me that she's teaching classes at a new gym, and that these classes just happen to fit perfectly with my schedule.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this.  (Although, to be honest, I'm not terribly excited about that first workout.  I'm already a little queasy just thinking about how hard it's going to be.)  I'm excited at the thought of getting back into super-fit shape and having the option of a lot of different workouts--swimming, biking, Pilates, boxing.

I guess you could say I'm a fitness geek as well as a general nerd.  Oh well.

In that vein, I've been gardening up a storm.  I had to "level up" on one of my potato towers--that is, I had to add the next level of boards, because the plants I put in back in April have been doing so well.  Fingers crossed...

The latest project has been to create a mosaic planter.  I saw instructions for doing this on a Pinterest post last winter and I'd been wanting to try it.

Basically, it involved getting a steel container, adhering sheets of wall tiles to it using mortar, and then grouting the whole thing.

I got the container and the tiles, and I tried using thinset, the way the instructions suggested, to adhere the tiles to the container.  I'd read conflicting accounts of using thinset on metal--it would work just fine, it wouldn't work at all, it might work.  In short, the jury was out.

In my case, it didn't work.  But that may be because I was following the instructions and trying to adhere the tiles in sheets, and the tiles I chose were simply too heavy.  They peeled right off.

So I decided to try again and this time do two things differently: adhere the tiles individually, and use a mortar that is specifically identified as an "adhesive."  This is what that looked like:

I also read that "scoring" the adhesive/mortar might help the tiles adhere better, so that's why you see the criss-cross lines.  I really wasn't sure this would work any better than the first attempt, so I started with just a couple of rows, like so:

And, miracle of miracles, when I checked on it this morning, all of the tiles were firmly anchored in place--only one was loose, and that was easily fixed with a little additional adhesive.

So, I took the plunge and did the entire container, like so.

In case you're wondering, the plan is to use this huge container to hold several smaller pots with plants in them.  I'm going to put it on a corner of my yard where the grass simply won't grow.

This way, I don't have to drill drainage holes in the steel container--if I did that, I'd risk having the whole thing rust away before my very eyes, because apparently once you cut holes in the steel and expose the inner core, it can--and will--rust.

I'm going to let it sit for another day or so, to dry thoroughly, and so I can check for any loose tiles before I attempt to grout it.

I confess, I'm still skeptical that it will actually work out okay, given that the directions for the adhesive indicate that it isn't for "exterior applications" and that it warns against using it on "natural stone."  (Honestly, I don't know if what I have on there is "natural stone" or not--it sorta looks like it, but these days, you never can tell.)

But I've decided to wait and grout and then hope for the best.  If nothing else, I may be able to get a season's use out of it, and that will be nice.  (More than a single season would be nicer, obviously.)

I'll post another picture when I actually grout it (assuming it looks decent).  Even with all the uncertainty, I'll admit it's been kind of fun to experiment and see what happens.  So, to be continued...

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