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to Paint and Decorate a Terra Cotta
Flower Pot Bird Bath
by Patricia Petrat
You've seen them in magazines, on television and in
books. Here are complete instructions for you to make your
own Terra Cotta Flower Pot Bird Bath.
Your best bet for outdoor painting is Patio Paints. I know they
are a little pricey, but they are fade resistant, non-toxic and
are meant for outdoor use. Patio Paints also make a clear sealant
that is also non-toxic. This would work as your sealant. You could
also search for a water-based polyurethane. There are a few that
are non-toxic, (baby crib safe as they say), that would work.
Whatever you choose, it won't be permanent. It is likely that your
bird bath will require refinishing and touching up every other
year. After all, it will be outside in the elements!
For the saucer of your bird bath, your best bet is to find a
waterproof type that won't require any treatment inside the bowl,
(where the water will go). For the outside, Patio Paints are again
One each, 12", 14", and 16" terra cotta flower
One - 20" diameter clay saucer. If you can find
a waterproof saucer, that's even better; you won't have to seal
the inside of it. If you choose pots that are smaller than those
listed above, just be sure your saucer is 4" larger than your
largest pot. This will keep the bird bath base and bowl in
Paints in assorted colors suitable for your
design. You can use Patio Paints or Plaid Durable Paints for the
best resistance to fading. I have successfully used Sears
Weatherbeater Satin or Flat as a base coat on many bird baths.
Patio Paint Clear Gloss Sealant or some other
water based sealant. The instructions for Patio Paints and Plaid
Durable Paints don't call for one. I have always used one in
spite of this. A sealant helps protect against water damage.
Ultimately, this is up to you.
Paint Brushes, Sponges, if desired, Stencils and
Liquid Nails Construction Adhesive-A small tube
is around $2.00
HOW TO DO IT:
Sand away any rough spots or loose clay
particles on the rim, bottom edge, and outside of the pots and
Stack the pots, starting with the largest pot,
upside down, on the bottom, then the medium sized pot, then the
smallest pot on top.
Draw a line with a pencil, below the rims of the
small and medium sized pot onto the pot below it. After you
un-stack the pots to paint them, this will help you define the
area that will be exposed when the pots are stacked. You don't
want your design to be hidden!
Seal the inside of all the pots, (and the saucer
if it isn't waterproof), with oil-based polyurethane -2-3 coats.
I also recommend sealing the lower edge of the largest pot, (the
edge that will rest on the ground), as opposed to painting it.
If you can, apply the polyurethane in a sunny place. The sun
will "bake" the polyurethane as you work, causing it to set-up a
little quicker. Let the polyurethane dry completely before
handling your pots to paint them. A word about Thompson's Water
Sealant; many visitors have suggested using Thompson's Water
Sealant in place of polyurethane to seal terra cotta pots. I
have never tried this, so I don't know if it works!
Now that the pots are sealed inside, after they
dry, they are ready to be painted with your choice of base
paint. You can make each pot a different color, or they can all
be the same. Paint them to match your house if you like! Soft,
pastel colors will be best for painting brightly colored flowers
and patterns. Remember, don't bother painting too far above the
lines you have drawn which indicate where the pots will overlap.
It is a good idea to go over your lines an inch or so, just to
be sure of good coverage.
Now the fun begins! Decorate the pots to your
taste. Flowers, lady bugs and dragonflies are obvious choices.
You can also paint your bird bath with personal touches that
suit your home. If you like cats, paint a cat on the bottom pot.
If you live near a lake, sail boats and lighthouses might be
suitable. This is entirely up to you and it's the best part of
creating your own!
If you purchase Plaid Decorator Blocks to
decorate your pot, they come with a pattern suggestion sheet and
how-to instructions. You can also buy more than one set of
blocks and mix patterns and shapes. You can use Decorator
Blocks, stencils and stamps to help with your design process.
Plaid does offer their products for sale at their web site. See
below for specific suggestions.
When you're finished decorating/painting your
bird bath, let it dry thoroughly. Then seal the entire outside,
(even the unpainted areas that won't show), with at least 3
coats of water based polyurethane. There are several of these on
the market, available at craft, hardware and paint stores. Check
to see if the product you select is OK to use over a painted
surface. I stress water based polyurethane because oil based
products have a yellow tint and will likely discolor your
Next Page: How to Install Your Birdbath
|About the Author:
Petrat is the owner of
Patricia's Pots, a Michigan-based store specializing
in decorating and marketing flower pots, tin-ware, and
unique terra cotta pieces since 1997. Visit
Patricia's Pots for great flower pot gift ideas.