When it comes to experimentation and play, my opinion is that more is more and MORE IS ALWAYS BETTER.
lf you poll a group of hypertufa enthusiasts about their favorite recipe, you are bound to get a myriad of responses. That is where I found myself when I first started my research. Reading about hypertufa told me all about its plant-friendly benefits (high porosity, good drainage), and some people-friendly ones too (lightweight, weatherproof). I also read about some of the methods for working with it, but I didn’t anticipate just how much of a chameleon it can be until I started playing with it.
And so I’ve spent the last couple of years actively making planters and testing every recipe I came across—as well as some of my own—in a quest to understand the role of each ingredient on the physical qualities (weight, strength, porosity, texture, color) of the finished container.
Cross-section shows the high aggregate content that gives hypertufa its prized porosity
Part of my initial experimentation was also based on my interest in surface decoration. I wanted to find recipes that could achieve good detail definition and allow me to create planters with original patterns and garden-inspired motifs.
I love the play between decorative elements and hypertufa’s innate surface imperfections and air pockets that further enhance its appearance of faux tufa. New pits often develop over time, making it a fertile substrate for moss and lichen, giving even the simplest planter the character of old weathered stone.
Two formulas give the same planter different feels. Blue Fog (U) on the left, yields a clean, modern planter; while Sand (S) gives it the appereance of aged sandstone
I also love that you can create very different results using the same mold, just by adjusting one of the variables. This chance to engage in a sort of rudimentary mass customization makes the process highly rewarding.
Depending on the recipe, the fabrication method, and the hand finishing applied before it is fully cured, hypertufa allows you to create objects with finishes that range from smooth to the look of rustic stone. Add special colors and textures to the mix and the combinations grow exponentially; thus the exploration and discovery phases can be endless. Some might see this as a nightmare, but to me it means that each new planter has the potential to surprise and delight, and to keep me engaged and eager for more experimenting.
A collection of small hypertufa planters in a range of finishes
Now without further ado, let me introduce our Hypertufa Finish Glossary. I'd love to hear which ones are your favorites!