A garden is a creative paradise for children, full of earthy scents, colors, birds, and butterflies. With virtually no prior skills, kids can help create that magical world, both through gardening and, of course, garden crafts. Decorating or painting clay pots is one of the best crafts to start with. Let’s look at three toddler-friendly techniques that can turn your terra cotta pots into works of art!
Decoupage Your Clay Pots
Decoupage is the art of cutting up pieces of paper and gluing them onto a surface. It sounds simple enough—making it ideal for toddlers and older kids—but it produces beautiful, unique displays. Gift wrapping, paper napkins, tissue paper, or magazines are all fair game. Let the kids find their favorite images, cut them up, and glue away.
Materials: clay pots, scissors, sealants, decorative paper, decoupage glue, and a brush for applying the glue.
- Wash the pot free of dust and debris, and let it dry.
- Seal the inside of the pot with a polyurethane waterproof sealant or something similar.
- Cut out paper designs or patterns, and glue them to the outside of the pot.
- After the glue dries, seal the outside of the pot with a waterproof sealer.
Tips and Tricks: sealing the inside and outside of the pot prevents moisture from causing the glue to bubble or peel away. Check out the wiki-how-to instructions or this decoupage video to get a full understanding of decoupaging your clay pots.
Chalk Painting Your Clay Pots
Chalk painting your clay pots is another simple craft for kids, including toddlers, that leaves you with beautiful works of art. Unlike regular acrylic paint, chalk paint is a thick medium that has a matte finish resembling chalk. It’s especially good for clay or terra cotta pots because the finish has the texture of clay itself. Plus, after it dries, you can sand a few spots here and there to give it a weather-worn look. This technique is called “distressing,” and it’s one reason why chalk painting is featured on so many refurbished furniture pieces on Pinterest.
Added bonus: chalk paint is water-soluble, making it easy to wash off and friendly to use with toddlers.
Materials: clay pots, chalk paint, brushes, jars of water, fine sandpaper, and sealant.
- Wash your pots and let them dry.
- Start painting.
- Let your first paint layer dry and apply more layers with different colors, as desired.
- “Distress,” or add a weathered look to your pots by gently sanding away spots on the rims, edges, or where desired.
- After the paint dries, apply a wax sealant.
Tips and Tricks: applying a sealant will let your paint withstand the elements outside. A wax sealant is best for chalk painting because it preserves the chalk-like texture, whereas a polyurethane sealant gives it a glossy finish.
Color Blocking Clay Pots
Color blocking is a painting technique that yields bold and brightly-colored containers, just the thing to attract young kids and toddlers to the garden. In this craft, you use painter’s tape or a stencil to create blocks of color. They can be diagonal, wavy, straight, or any shape. The key is to contrast eye-catching tones with sharp boundaries to create a modern look.
Materials: clay pots, paint, brushes, jars of water, and sealant.
- Wash your pots and let them dry.
- Paint one color on the pot and let the paint dry.
- Create an edge with painter’s tape and paint another block of color up to that edge. Let paint dry before removing the tape. Continue to tape and paint as many blocks as desired.
- After the paint dries, apply a sealer.
Tips and Tricks: this technique works with several kinds of paint, including spray paint, acrylics, or chalk paint.
Decorating terra cotta and clay pots not only gives the kids a fun craft but is just one more way to get them involved in the garden. The flowers are that much more special when you’ve decorated the pot yourself. Decoupage, chalk painting, and color blocking will all yield appealing designs for toddlers, teenagers, and even adults.
Visit our nurseries in Bloomingdale and Carpentersville to pick up any flowers or pots you need!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.