Terra-cotta dresses up

Have fun with paint and pots
Jil Peters

Ordinary terra-cotta pots turn fashionable when you add vivid colors and labels. Use them for growing young herbs or annual bedding plants; they can go indoors or out, as long as there's no danger of freezing.

TIME: About 1 hour, plus drying time

COST: About $35 for three pots

MATERIALS

Terra-cotta pots (ours measure 7 1/2 inches tall, 5 3/4 inches wide)

Pottery sealant spray

Acrylic paint: one 4-ounce jar each of blue and green (or two colors of your choice)

2-inch-wide foam brush

Masking tape

Sheet of vinyl letters

Spray-on clear acrylic coating (gloss)

Sheet of self-adhesive laminating sheets (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Spray the inside of the pot with pottery sealant; dry for 24 hours.

2. Paint outside of pot green (or your first color); allow to dry for about an hour.

3. Wrap masking tape (or a strip of a self-adhesive laminating sheet) around the top or bottom third of the pot. Peel backing from vinyl letters, then press them to the pot, just above or below the masking tape. (To make the variation with circle, see below.)

4. Apply the blue paint (or your second color), covering the letters (see photo above); allow it to dry for about an hour.

5. Remove the tape and vinyl letters from the pot. Spray on acrylic coating; allow to dry.

Variation with circle design: To create the circle shown on the back pot (see top photo), follow steps 1 and 2 above. While paint dries, cut a 5-inch square of a laminating sheet, then draw a 4-inch-diameter circle in its center. Cut out and discard the circle. When paint is dry, peel off sheet's backing and position the stencil on the pot where you want it. Peel backing from vinyl letters and apply them to the pot within the circle. Apply second color within the cut-out circle; allow to dry. Proceed with step 5.