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Thursday, March 27, 2008

DIY Painted Planters

I have a friend who loves to cook, and he is constantly going to the store to buy fresh herbs. His recipes normally only require a small amount of herbs, which meant most of the herbs would go to waste. Sometimes he would be disappointed in their lack of quality and freshness. Moreover, he gets frustrated when the store runs out of a particular herb.

He has a nice outdoor balcony so I decided to give him a set of potted herbs. This way he will have fresh herbs whenever he needs them, and will also be saving a lot of time and money.
Because this is a gift, I wanted to plant the herbs in pretty pots. I could not find a set of pots to my liking within my budget so I decided to customize my own planters.

I took ordinary, inexpensive 6" terracotta pots, and used acrylic paint to paint an image of a sprig of the herb on the pot, and then painted the name of the herb in calligraphy at the top of the pot. I sealed the outside of the pot with 2 coats of clear, water-based polyurethane sealant. I purchased a rosemary plant, a sage plant, and a spearmint plant from my local nursery. All I need now is for my oregano, thyme, dill weed, parsley, and basil seeds to sprout, and to plant them in these pots. I can't wait to present them to him. I know he will really appreciate this and will use this year after year!

Learn how to customize your own terracotta pots...

  • Small Can of Clear Water-based (or oil-based) Polyurethane Paint. (I used a semi-gloss finish for my project, but you can choose another.)
  • Stirring Stick
  • Painter's brush
  • 6" Terracotta Pots
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Thin paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Drop cloth or other protection for floor
  • Sandpaper (may be optional)
  • Scrubbing Brush (may be optional)

1. Get a clean terracotta pot. If it is not clean, use a scrubbing brush to scrub it vigorously with soap and water. Rinse it off and allow it to completely dry. Sand down any rough edges or imperfections with the sand paper.

2. Use a pencil to lightly draw a sketch of what you are going to paint on the terracotta pot. When you are done, use the thin paint brush to paint in your image. Make sure you paint the pot over cardboard or newspaper and wear old clothing because this can get messy.

3. After the acrylic paint has completely dried, use the large paint brush and apply a thin coat of the protective paint on the outside of the pot. Make sure you do this in a well ventilated area. If you apply a thick coat of paint, it will drip everywhere and dry unevenly. Although I initially allowed my pots to dry on the cardboard, I would advise you to let them dry on a set of bricks. If you allow them to dry on the cardboard, odds are the cardboard is going to stick to the sealant and you will have to use sand paper to sand off the remains of the cardboard. Allow the first coat to dry completely. I let them sit over night.

4. After the first coat has completely dried, apply the second coat and allow it to completely dry. I only applied to two coats, but you can apply three coats if you like.

Note: This pot is still wet. It will look less glossy once it dries.

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