Ideas for Hand Painting Terra Cotta Pottery

Written by nicole crawford
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Ideas for Hand Painting Terra Cotta Pottery
Painting terra cotta pottery is not difficult. (pots image by Jacques PALUT from

Terra cotta pots are often used for gardening and decorative purposes, and although the rusty orange exterior is often considered attractive, the pots can also be hand painted for a personal flair. According to Flower Pot Heaven online, terra cotta is an iron-rich, porous clay that is often used to make pottery. Hand painting terra cotta pottery is inexpensive and would make a thoughtful gift for a friend or loved one.

Start and Finish

Terra cotta is a porous clay, meaning that water will leak through the clay particles and onto plants. As noted at Patricia's Pots online, you will want to sand down any rough spots to make painting easier. Seal the inside with two to three coats of oil-based polyurethane if you are planning to put plants in them, or water-based polyurethane if you are only using them for decorative purposes. This will keep water from seeping through to the soil, and it will also increase durability. When you have finished painting your pots, let them dry overnight and seal the outside with a water-based polyurethane sealant.


According to the Artistic Garden online, acrylic paints are ideal for terra cotta pot painting. Water-based acrylics are easy to find, inexpensive and easy to clean up, although they do stain clothes. Solvent-based acrylics also work on terra cotta, as do latex paints. There are also a number of paints that are formulated especially for painting terra cotta and are available at most craft stores. Dimensional paints, such as puff paints, are also suitable for terra cotta and add texture.


Perhaps the best part of hand-painting terra cotta is personalising your own design. Floral designs are common and appropriate for both gardens and decoration. If you have a garden with a theme, or an area of your garden with specific plants, you could design your pots accordingly. For example, a cactus and succulent garden could have pots with a southwest/desert theme, or an herb garden could have pots with culinary designs. You can also choose a colour scheme and work with different combinations of colours, as illustrated at Krylon online. Folk designs, such as henna or Celtic knotwork, are also attractive and fun to paint.

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