Mosaic Planters Tree of Life Napa River Waves Sun Moon Butterfly
In 2012 a group of community leaders and volunteers spearheaded an effort to decorate some of the Historic Downtown Vallejo planters with mosaic. They collected donated tile and organized various volunteer groups from the community to help in the effort. Several months after they had completed their project I was able to contribute mosaic work on three bare planters. I had a few friends help me piece, install, and grout the trio of mosaic planters.
We designed the images to be large and bold, easy for beginners (my volunteer friends!) to render in mosaic. The design is context based and has a geomorphologic and natural history framework based on the beautiful nature surrounding Vallejo. We wanted to tell a visual story of the natural beauty that surrounds Vallejo. We also wanted to imbue the mosaic with imagery of joy, hope, and prosperity for the future. The three planters have a circular cross section so the design elements circle the pots and lend themselves to a linear storytelling approach for the design. The design elements flow one to the other other in a natural way.
Beginning with an abstract mosaic representing the Napa River, the mosaic blends in to a mosaic of sailboats on blue wavy water.
Mosaic Planters – Napa River & Sailboats
As you walk around the planter, the land of the city of Vallejo is represented by a Tree Of Life with a Blue Bird of Happiness, evoking the ideas of hope and prosperity.
Mosaic Planters Tree of Life & Blue Bird of Happiness
The soil under the tree becomes a shore against more water. The mosaic word “Vallejo’ is of course floating on blue wavy mosaic water, since the town is surrounded by three major bodies of water. The Carquinez Straight to the East, the San Pablo Bay to the South and West, and the Napa River to the West. The mosaic continues on the next smaller planter with the watery theme as larger mosaic waves in blue tile, representing the bigger water of the San Francisco Bay.
Mosaic Planters with Blue Waves & Vallejo City Name
The next design element is a yellow mosaic sun/sunset, followed by a mosaic moon, mirror mosaic stars, and swirls. The mosaic’s thematic movement goes from land to water, to sky and the heavens.
Mosaic Planters with Waves Sunset Moon Stars
The next design element is an abstracted Monarch Butterfly, which soars high above the moon and star, representing transformation.
Mosaic Planters with Monarch Butterfly Sunset & Moon
A Glimpse in the Mosaic Studio
We pieced the mosaic in the studio on fiberglass mesh.
Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Section in Progress in Artis’s Studio
The mosaic sections fit together like a puzzle. Here is an image of how they look before we install them in a cement mortar bed applied to the planter’s vertical surface.
Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Sections Ready to Install – Napa River Sailboats
Mosaic Sections Before Install – Making sure they all fit – Tree of Life
Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Sections Ready to Install – Sun Moon Stars Swirl
Fiberglass Mesh Mosaic Sections Ready to Install on Planters – Butterfly
The rims of the planters were pieced on site in the direct method with glass gems, flat round glass pieces. During the installation many children passing by with their families were able to add a few glass gems to the rim. I loved this impromptu contribution of joyful youthful energy and enthusiasm to the mosaic planters.
Glass Gems for Mosaic Planter Rims – Children in the community helped
The glass gem rims turned out beautifully!
Mosaic Planters Sun Moon Stars Monarch Butterfly
Production of these three mosaic planters was entirely volunteer driven. Production assistance by Siram, Koko Yaeger, Kathy Vinson, Theo Reynolds, and Kemper Stone.