I've admired these beautiful copper and cast iron pots that I've seen, but alas my bank account doesn't care for the price. I get my pots usually at the discount warehouse store and they're...ugly plastic. Or my pots come free with the plant, you know the black plastic ones?
So I decided to try and paint them to match some of the beautiful aged patinas with...spray paint!
spray paint (Krylon makes a wonderful spray paint made for plastic- has a satin or glossy finish)
plastic bags and/or newspaper
Step 1: Scrub a Dub Dub
Cleaning or not: The spray can recommends that you wash older pots with an ammonia based cleaner, but since I like to water my plants while I'm washing things (can the lawn tell if it is clean water or dirty water?) I used a cleaner that I could use the grey water later without worrying about my environmental issues, or killing the little grass I have.
If you're using new pots, the directions say to lightly sand the surface so that the paint will stick. Then wipe off with a damp cloth.
Now as I was playing with colors and practicing techniques, I found out that both of these washing instructions were not necessary for the technique I was doing, in fact NOT washing was a better choice to give texture. I think the washing step is for a smooth finish, whereas I was trying for the rusty texture finish.
Step 2: Patina
Next came for me the hardest part, deciding on the color of the patina. I finally concluded that I should do what I could find spray paint to match. I used a green, red, orangish-brown, black and bronze. Nothing will completely match the patina of the beautiful iron planters, but of course they are $$$ each and (duh) real metal!
A long time ago, I'd painted two of the pots with some latex paint to match the brown house color. I learned then that latex paint will paint plastic, but doesn't stay on very well.
I painted first with red, and then with green (red and green are complements of each other plus I was hoping a bit of the color would show through at the very end). Then as it wasn't working quite like I wanted, I added the orangish-brown.
Each layer of color took a day-- because of temperature and humidity. In Houston during the summer it is 85 before you know it with too much humidity-- so this took several days to paint as it got too hot and humid in my garage and outside. Maybe if I had a nice inside space, I could've done this quicker. But alas- it isn't February- but July!
Next I added black and bronze with plastic bag sponging while wet. After you spray and before the paint dries, you can take a plastic bag and sponge on the surface, exposing some of the paint underneath and giving it a more "aged" look. You can also turn your stuff while you're painting without painting your hand (too much).
After I finished with this step, it was nice, but too glossy. And not streaky enough. Sigh I guess I could've stopped here. But the inner artist was not done. So inside I went to my cramped little studio to try dripping some acrylic on the top of this. This effect was beautiful before it dried- but after it dried, because I was using very liquid acrylic, it wasn't as opaque as I wanted. Later I'm going to try with some left over latex- but because time is running out for the contest I want to enter, that picture will have to wait til later.
Step 3: Other Experiments
I had some aha moments after I finished. As a teacher, THEY always tell you to do your sample first before doing the lesson with your students. Usually my best example comes after I've played around a bit. So some of my "aha's" are below. Later on I'll come back and edit this with more pictures. (I added a few more pictures of some later versions, but still not finished...) Maybe. As an artist, I kind of feel like things are never really done. Sigh.
- Dirty pots work great for a nice texture.
- If you paint your pots black as the first coat, (flat or satin paint) then some of the grooves will have that nice shadow.
- If your pot is slick and you paint all your colors quickly on top of each other and squish with plastic, you get a wonderful texture- so the sanding part was also not necessary.
- Water also makes a nice texture effect as the water acts like a barrier to the spray as well as giving a nice chemical reaction.
- Too much spraying on one day is bad for your brain, I think I lost a few brain cells spraying too long and breathing the fumes. Use your respirator! I sprayed several pots today and didn't get dizzy/ light headed. It is a good thing and worth the investment.
- The more you do, the better you get.