Inside: Looking for a special touch for the spring dining table? This cute little vintage garden pot craft doubles as a place card and a gift and costs just a couple of bucks to make!
How can you go wrong with a craft for the table that’s easy to make and cute as a spring bunny? Oh, and costs almost nothing?
I needed a little something extra special for this spring garden Easter tablescape. And these darling DIY terra cotta flower pots were the perfect touch.
How to make vintage garden pots with transfers.
I always keep an eye out for old garden pots that have been aged the real way, with very little luck. But instead of spending hours combing through thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, estate sales, and antique stores, the easiest way is to make your own!
These cute pots not only tie into the garden theme centerpiece, but also serve as unique place cards for this tablescape. And make the sweetest little take home gift for guests.
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How to age clay garden pots.
I’ve shared the easy steps of this transfer technique before for these vintage French garden pots. You’d never believe they started out as glossy blue stoneware!
To make these cute place setting decorations, this time I used mini terra cotta pots. These 3-inch clay pots were less than a dollar apiece. (You can usually find a pack of them at Dollar Tree as well).
How to give terracotta pots an aged look.
To make the plain orange pots look like they’ve been holding beautiful blooms for years just took some craft paint and baking soda!
1. First, I mixed antique white craft chalk paint with baking soda in a disposable cup to form a paste consistency.
2. Next, I simply painted and dabbed a couple of coats onto the pot.
I played around with the ratio of the paint and baking soda between coats. I made my first coat a little heavier on the paint and added more baking soda to the mixture for the second layer to give more texture.
There’s no science to this and you can’t mess it up. You’ll know when you like the way it looks!
3. Then I rounded up more craft paint in tan, gray, and black along with some brown antique wax.
I dipped a brush into the tan paint first, then wiped it off really well onto a paper towel. Then I lightly rubbed the brush over different parts of the pot.
SH&H Tip: Make sure you clean the paint almost all the way off the brush. The texture on the pot will still grab some paint left behind on the brush.
Next, I followed the same steps for the gray paint.
After the gray, I dabbed on a few very light dots with the black paint. I’m undecided on whether this added much to the look, so feel free to skip this color.
If any of the paint went on too heavy, I found it helped to immediately smear it with my finger to soften it.
4. I finished with some brown antique wax to give the pots their antique look, again wiping the brush off until it was almost clean and dry. I very lightly rubbed the brush on the edges and a bit all over the pot.
At this point the “aging” was done and the pots could have been used for any purpose. But I wanted to add some Easter and French flair, so I continued on with adding vintage look transfers.
How to decorate flower pots with vintage transfers.
Where to find vintage graphics.
Since these were for an Easter tablescape, I wanted to include some cute vintage bunny illustrations. I googled “free vintage black and white rabbit graphics” and found just what I had in mind. These are for personal use only so I can’t share the graphic but you can find the ones I used here.
Etsy is also a great place for inexpensive clip art choices.
And my favorite place to find French vintage clip art is The Graphics Fairy. If you’ve never been to her site, she has the most beautiful vintage transfer art, all free!
This is where I found a border for the bunnies and a French postcard graphic for the other side.
How to apply graphics to a garden pot.
1. First, I pasted all of the graphics into a one-page Word document and printed them out. This French postcard art was already reversed on the Graphics Fairy site, but you can also reverse art in a Word document if needed.
None of my other art contained writing, so it didn’t matter to me which direction it came out.
If you didn’t age your own pot with white paint, you’ll want to choose a light-colored pot for this transfer method since bits of the white paper will remain.
2. Next, I cut out each graphic closely.
I had never used this technique before with graphics this small, and I learned the hard way on this project that tiny graphics like this border are much harder to work with than larger transfers (like the postcard graphic on the back). So keep that in mind when choosing your images to make this craft so much easier on yourself.
3. Next, I painted a generous coat of matte Mod Podge on the printed side of the graphic.
Then I pressed each graphic really well into place on the pots.
4. I let them dry overnight. Don’t be tempted to rush this! It really does need this drying time.
5. The next day, I started the process of rubbing off layers of the paper. I sprayed the paper with water until I could see the design darken through the paper:
6. I let it sit for a minute and then began carefully rubbing the top layer of the paper off with my fingers.
While it’s wet, the image looks darker and the paper is more transparent. Rub off a little and let the paper dry.
Repeat this step, letting the paper dry in between until you remove the desired amount of paper.
Tips for applying paper transfers.
- Peel off small layers and let it dry in between because when the paper is wet it may look finished, but when it dries you’ll see more paper again.
- Some pieces of the design will come off and little is ok because the look is supposed to be worn. This is where I ran into some issues with the small transfers because some of the parts that rubbed away were integral to the design. 😭 To be totally honest, I had to dot the side of a bunny’s face in with a fine tip black pen and blur it with my finger while the design was wet.
- When rubbing off the paper, be careful to rub just the paper and not the pot, because the baking soda and paint mixture will rub off. Again, with the small transfers this was more of a problem, but I don’t think it’s super noticeable. In a couple of spots, I dabbed the faintest hint of antique wax where the texture had come off.
- Keep in mind that the finished pots are not waterproof on the outside when using them for real plants. I would plan to make them indoor plant pots or use them on a covered patio. And take care not to get the outside wet when watering. I’ve always used faux plants in ones that I made so I’ve never tried to seal them. If you try this technique and seal the baking soda/paint treatment, let me know how it went!
And that was it—an “aged” vintage pot in two days.
To make them into place cards for the spring garden table, I added a name card to each flower pot that looked like a plant marker using some cardstock and a wood skewer. Then I popped in a faux lilac and preserved moss and it also became a cute little Easter gift!
See how cute they looked another way in this spring tour!
Ideas for vintage planter garden pots.
These little pots not only make perfect placecards and favors, but this easy DIY project offers so many other fun ways to be creative with this craft!
- Add them to a shelf, vignette, or mantel for a great addition to French country or Farmhouse style
- Create a flower pot set with vintage letter graphics to spell out something
- Use vintage plant photos for a herb garden grouping for the kitchen counter
It’s hard to believe these started as plain orange clay pots!
They’re exactly that special touch to my spring dining table that I needed. And the best part? With a little paint from my craft stash and a printer, this easy project cost me about a buck apiece. 🌷
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