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Ideas for Painting Terra Cotta Flower Pots

Anuja Marathe Kanhere
Gardening and decorating your home can be fun for many of you. But what could be more exciting than adding your personal touch to the whole look? Here are a few useful tips and ideas to paint your terra cotta flower pots.
Summer is here and you are bound to start searching for some fun ways to spend time at home. If you have a creative streak in you, then why not try your hand at terra cotta pot painting? It is a fulfilling activity which needs very little investment.
All you need to do is shop for some good plain terra cotta articles or who knows, if you are lucky, you might just come across some good terra cotta pot in your own garden. However, you need a whole lot of patience to perfect your skill at painting terra cotta and some colors of course. So get set go...

Designs for Painting Terra Cotta

Designs used in terra cotta painting can vary as per the locations where you wish to place the pot. Read on to get some attractive clues to decorate your pots.

✓Plain Natural Colors

A pot placed in the garden looks good with minimum use of colors. Black, white, golden, silver, etc along with the natural terra cotta brown looks fabulous if you are placing plants in the pot.

✓Stripes and Dots

If you wish to use the pot in hanging flower baskets, then always go for some designs in simple horizontal stripes or polka dots on a white background. You may opt to simply paint the pots in some plain earthly shade of green or sky blue as well.

✓Names of Plants

For a meticulous few, who wish to place small flowering plants in their window sill, color the terra cotta pots in bright colors and paint the names of the plants that the pot will hold on the pot's surface.

✓Tribal Art

For a classy ethnic design for your terra cotta pots, there is nothing to match the Indian Warli art or the Peruvian art in red, black and white.

✓Floral Designs

For pots that are to be placed indoors, there is no restriction of designs. You may opt for some bright floral designs on a lighter background to highlight the color shades.

✓Geometric Designs

Varied shapes painted on terra cotta pots go really well if your home has been furnished in minimalistic fashion. Use shapes and colors to suit the entire look.
e.g. A pot with circles for design will suit a living room with curvy furniture.

✓Shades of One Theme Color

When you have more than one pot in different sizes but similar in shape, you may decide to paint them in a particular theme color.
e.g. Assuming that you wish to place the pots in your living room which is blue in color, start painting your pots in various shades of blue starting with the darkest shade for the biggest or the smallest pot.
Once done, mix a little of white color to lighten the blue shade and paint the pot which come next in order. Now lighten the shade a little more and paint the next pot. Paint till all the pots are done. Usually one ends with a white color for the last pot.

✓Zodiac Signs

You may decorate the flower pot with symbols of sun signs of your spouse and yourself. This idea can even be used for gifting terra cotta pots. In that case, you will need to paint the sun sign of the gift recipient on the pot.

✓Molten Wax Droplets

An easy and time-saving idea is that of giving a dark background color to the pot. You may now decorate the surface by dropping even sized drops of molten wax in a contrasting color on the pots surface.

✓Clay Embellishments

If you wish to continue with the terra cotta theme, then you may paint the pot entirely in white or beige color. Now take some dry soil from your garden and put it in a sieve. The cleaned soil may be mixed in an adhesive paste available at any of the local hardware stores.
The mixture should ideally have a dough like consistency. Now roll the paste to form long threads about the size of noodles. Twist them to form designs of flowers, leaves, animals or insects like butterflies, etc., and paste them immediately on the pots surface.

✓Antique Style Art

If you are really good with painting and shading art, then you may opt to choose one from ancient Egyptian art like popular paintings of Tutankhamen or Nefertiti.
For giving an antique look, leave the background in plain terra cotta or paint it in golden or copper shades. Other popular pictures that can be imitated are from Mayan or Chinese arts.

✓Cartoon themes

A few popular designs amongst children are cartoon characters and comic characters as theme pictures for the pots. Children often paint their families on drawing paper. The same can be done by them on terra cotta pots too.

✓Vegetable Prints

If you wish to place a terra cotta pot in your kitchen, then make use of vegetables like okra (also known as okra or gumbo) and onions to stamp their design on pot's surface.

✓Stencil art

You may opt to work with paper stencils available in the market. Just make sure to first paint the pot in a good background color. Now place the stencil on the pot's surface and trace out the design on the surface. The stencil may then be peeled off.
Fill the stenciled image with suitable colors of your choice and look, your terra cotta pot is ready to be displayed!

Steps in Terra Cotta Painting

Step 1: Cleaning the Pot Surface

It is important to first understand if the terra cotta pot that you wish to paint is new or old.
♦ A completely new pot is devoid of much dust and can be cleaned with a dry piece of cloth. However, ensure to smoothen out the rough surfaces with a piece of sandpaper.
♦ If you plan to paint a used, old pot, it requires a thorough cleaning.
  • We suggest that you prepare a mixture of water and bleach in 9 :1 proportion in a bucket.
  • Now soak your pot in this mixture for a minimum of 24 hours. This should remove all the particles of mud and dust on the pot's surface.
  • For any spots of tightly stuck dirt patches on the pot's surface, use a knife as a scraper.
  • After soaking the pot for a day, wash the pot again to clear off any bleach remnants.
  • Let the pot dry off thoroughly.
  • Now smoothen the surface of the pot with a piece of sandpaper.

Step 2: Applying Base Coat and Sealer

It is essential to apply minimum two layers of urethane sealer on the inside surface of the pot. This helps to avoid your painted art getting peeled off by moisture.
Similarly make it a point to apply a base coat of neutral colors like white or off-white on the outer side of the pot. Let the pot dry off completely for at least one whole day. Your pot is now ready to be painted upon.

Step 3: Selecting Colors for Painting Terra Cotta

♦ We recommend the usage of water based acrylic paint colors as they are easy to use.
♦ It is essential to decide beforehand, if the pot is to remain indoors or outdoors. If the pot is to be part of your garden, then there is nothing to beat the earthy look along with few natural colors like green, blue and red. Avoid using fluorescent shades as they do not coincide much with nature.
♦ When choosing colors for pots that are to be placed indoors, there is no particular restriction on color combinations. Choose colors that go with the overall look of your home.
Our last bit of advice to you is to spray the completed pot with minimum two layers of varnish. This will help to protect the paint from getting peeled off or bubbled off.
Wow... We are already getting excited with the whole idea of terra cotta painting and we pretty sure that you are feeling excited too! So wish you all a happy time with your terra cotta painting!