Since moving into the new house I have been plant obsessed. Like #crazyplantlady obsessed. I always loved to garden and I have kept herbs like rosemary, oregano, lemongrass, and lemon verbena indoors for years but for some reason I never really kept house plants. That is, until now! The new house is so bright and I have fully embraced the idea of decorating with plants. So much so that we (and by we I mostly mean I…I promise I ask before buying them) have bought more plants than other decorating items like furniture or pictures for the house. But why not? They are naturally pretty and are great and purifying your air too.
Now with new plants comes the need for new pots. But buying fancy colorful pots can be expensive and kind of locks you in to a decor idea for the room if you buy something bright. As a result I look for pots at yard/garage/estate sales that are cheap or buy plain terracotta pots and fancy them up. Fancying them up is also a great way to cover up years of dirt or stains for those super cheap/free pots you acquire.
About 5 years ago or so I pinned this idea from Clever Nest for drip painted pottery. It seemed like an awesome way to give the terracotta pots a casual decorated look while still keeping them some what natural. Now I finally have a chance to give it a go! (lol 5 years later)
This was in some ways easier and in some ways harder than I thought it would be. As a result I decided I would write this post to give you a little information if you have been meaning to do something like this yourself. The necessary starting items are easy enough:
DIY Drip Paint Pots
Terracotta or other pot
Paint – I used a combination of left over wall paint, outdoor paint, and hobby paint
Note: if you decide to paint the inside or top of the pot I recommend using a “waterproof” paint. The one pot I did not use Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Semi-Gloss Enamel in Ultra Pure White (leftover from doing my window ledges – picked because Home Depot was close…I am lazy) for but used a indoor paint now has some bubbles where the soil touches it.
The easy explanation of how to do this takes three steps:
- Clean off the pot. This is especially important if you are using a pre-owned and used by you or someone else pot. Allow to completely dry.
- Dip the paint brush and really cover it in paint. Dab the paint in the location that you want it to run down the pot. The more paint you dab on, the longer the run will be. Go back and get more paint to grow the drip if necessary. Continue to dip the brush in the paint and dab around where you want the drip until you have gone fully around the pot and have the desired drips.
- Allow pot to dry in the direction you want the drips to run for as long as the paint directions suggest. Don’t touch the drips until they are fully dry. Once the pots are dry you can seal them if you wish. I did not because I wanted the terracotta feel to them.
Now this is where is gets fun. Here is what I learned to add tips and notes on top of the above simple directions.
Tip #1: You can choose to paint the terracotta pot another color.
I only chose to do it on one pot because 1. I wanted to see how to do it and 2. the pot had a crack in it which I filled in with glue. I did not want to see the glue so I painted over the whole pot. In general I don’t like this look and prefer my pots have that contrast of terracotta to paint.
Doing this I learned that spray paint is probably the way to go if you want to fully paint the pot. There seemed to be no way to get rid of the brush lines that formed as I painted. I even did two coats of it and one of them was with foam applicator. No luck, still lined. From afar it looks fine though.
Tip #2: Test how runny your paint is.
It is an annoying extra step but it can help your pot look more “perfect”. If your paint is too runny then even if you put only a small dab your drips will run all the way to the bottom of the pot (see example in Tip #1 above). If your paint is not runny enough then you will get think drops of paint that aren’t flat. You can see that in a very mild form here:
If your paint is too runny there isn’t much you can do. I would try a different paint. If your paint is too thick then you can add some water to thin it out (you can also add mineral spirits or paint thinner too but I found water worked just fine). Make sure however that you don’t stir it too much or top quickly and aggressively because you will end up with bubbles. These bubbles will then show up in your paint lines down the pot. Example of that here:
Tip #3: Work your way around the pot doing one drip at a time. (See the collage above for a sense of my process)
You don’t have to do this but I found this approach helpful to make a “cleaner” finally product. All of the paints that I used tended to dry pretty quickly. As a result if I started one drip and then went to the next but realized later that a previous drip didn’t go far enough down the pot, by the time I applied more paint it went over the previous drop rather than adding additional paint to it. This did not create the desired look I wanted. Instead I got a drip on another drip and that was meh (see two picture above). The more you do this with a given paint the easier it will get to figure out how much you want.
Tip #4: Painting from the bottom is cleaner than from the top if your pot has a lip. There are however a couple work arounds.
No surprise, paint does not go over lips very well. Especially if the lips go from out to in. In these situations the paint will just drip off and not run down the rest of the pot.
If you paint from the bottom of the pot and let the drips fall towards the top you won’t run into this problem. This does mean that your drips will “run up” your pot when it is upright.
If you really want your drops to “run down” the pot when it is upright I would suggest two alternatives:
- Paint from below the lip. I did this with the pot below and I really like how it turned out. I painted the rest of the top of the pot the same color as the drips to make it seem like they started all the way at the top.If I had a bigger paint bucket I might have just dipped the whole pot in up to the lip and seen what happened when the drips ran down. I still plan to try this.
- Make the paint more liquid and help it over the edge. You can start with the drips at the very top of the pot then baby sit them over the lip by turning the pot on its side as they drip. The reason I suggest that you use a more wet paint this way is that if the paint is too thick it starts to run a bit at a diagonal from the lip as you wait for it to slowly work its way over (The white paint in the picture below is thicker while the orange paint is thinner, you can see the difference). I would also suggest you work in quarters, allowing the paint in one corner to dry before you start the next corner.
Tip #5: Don’t dry the pot on a paper towel.
This might seem obvious to most people but I didn’t think about it the first time and the drips ran all the way to the top of the pot and stuck to the paper towel. Then my pot has either ripped off paint or paper towel bits. I handled this two ways after that. The first I have a double sink so I could sit the pot in the middle and allow the drips to fall in the sink. The second was I put the pot on a cooling rack over a paper towel. This way the paint got on the cooling rack or dripped through it.
Have fun and experiment with it. If you aren’t sure what you want do an experimental pot like I did. It actually turned out cool enough I decided to plant something in it! Let me know if you try making one and which you like the best. I always love inspiration for my next attempted.