Growing your own is becoming a favourite national past-time and simple arts and crafts activities like making or decorating your own plant pots is an effective way of involving children. All you need to get going is a terracotta pot, an enthusiastic young artist and pots and pots of imagination.
Terracotta pots are ideal bases for this craft although lots of the arts and crafts activities will work equally well with a plastic pot too.
If you have chosen a terracotta pot, start by preparing it thoroughly first. This is something the children can help with. Make sure the outer surface of the pot is clean and smooth, a sponge scourer should be sufficient for this job.
Have a chat with the child and establish how you want the finished pot to be used. This is an important consideration because plants, soil and water might spell disaster for a porous decorated pot. If you are going to use the pot for plants, seal the outside of the pot with an acrylic or polyurethane sealant. If the pot is purely decorative, it’s quite OK to seal the inside of the pot instead.
A Painted Pot
Now you are ready to start painting the pot. Acrylic paints are the best choice for this job. Start by picking a base colour for the pot which will tone down the terracotta shade and fit in with the rest of the design.
Now they are ready to go using one of several effective arts and crafts techniques:
- If the children aren’t confident painting free-hand, they could use stencils that fit in with their design.
- Use a sponge to make some really interesting effects.
- Paint a funny face on the pot and add some googly eyes. This is a clever design if you use the pot for a plant such as an herb or ‘cut and come again’ salad plant. The pot becomes a ‘person’ who requires a good ‘haircut’ every now and then.
- Use a group of small plant pots together to make an impressive herb garden. Paint them in complementary colours and paint the name of the planted herb in bright letters at the rim of the pot.
- When the paint is dry, embellish the pot with other items such as shells or beads by fixing with PVA glue.
Decoupage Plant Pots
The arts and crafts technique of decoupage is a fabulous way of decorating plant pots. It involves patching together images from cut paper or material and pasting onto the pot with glue.
Start by ensuring the surface of the pot is clean and smooth. Apply a thin layer of PVA to the surface of the pot.
Now attach the motifs and designs to the pot, building the creation up into a striking design. Once the sticking is complete, finish by mixing some more PVA glue with a little water to make a varnish and applying over the top of the pot. Don’t worry if it looks a bit gooey at first, the PVA glue dries perfectly clear and leaves a clean, glossy finish to the artwork.
Perfect materials for decoupage include:
- gift wrap
- paper napkins
This uses fragments of broken china or pottery as a main material and may not be suitable for younger children as a result. Start by making sure you have a good supply of broken pottery. Charity shops and jumble sales are good for this purpose.
Prepare the pot in the same way as usual and apply a good coat of PVA glue first. Patch the china pieces together on the tacky surface to create a stunning bespoke mosaic.
When the children are happy with their design, finish by smearing plenty of ready-mixed grout across the design so the gaps are filled in. Immediately wipe away the excess grout and polish the finished pot to finish.
Other Potty Ideas
Pots aren’t just for plants, use them as containers for themed gifts. You could paint the pot with the recipient’s name and fill it with gifts that reflect their interests e.g. gardening gifts, sweets and chocolates, jewellery and scarves or Lego bricks.
To design a raised pot, glue the bases of two pots together, so one upturned pot acts as the base of the other raised pot. Decorate in the same ways as above.
Make eco pots by rolling newspaper around a bottle as a template. Tuck the ends of the newspaper cylinder together to form as base and fill with compost to give the shape strength before adding seeds. This isn’t very decorative but nevertheless a useful craft to learn.
Decorating garden pots are the perfect way to interest children in the garden and create some wonderful art with a whole range of exciting techniques.