Some of my earliest memories involve playing video games with my mom. She's always had a particular love of the old Mario games, so when her birthday came around this year, I decided to combine her passion for video games with her love of gardening, and this Super Mario Bros inspired flower pot was the result.
Step 1: Gather Materials
For this project, you will need the following:
- A New Clay Flower Pot (lighter colors work best)
- Acrylic Paints (blue, brown, white, black, yellow, red, green, orange, peach)
- Paint Brushes
- Sponge Brushes (optional)
- A Matte Sealant Spray (like Krylon Matte Finish Spray)
- Newspaper or Construction Paper to Cover Workspace
- Damp Paper Towels/Cloth (for cleaning)
- Sand Paper (optional)
- Disposable Plastic Container for Mixing Paint
- Craft Sticks/Palette Knife for Mixing Paint
- Water for Cleaning Brushes
- Flowers and Soil
Step 2: Clean the Flower Pot and Prep Workspace
Once you've collected your materials, you can begin by preparing your flower pot. You'll want to remove any stickers or tags. If there are any rough spots or sticker residue in the areas you'll be painting, you may want to use sand paper to make the surface more even before you begin. You can then use a damp cloth or paper towel to gently wipe off any excess dirt and oils from the pot. Allow the flower pot to completely dry before you move on to applying the paint.
While you're waiting, you can begin setting up your workspace. You'll want to cover your space with newspaper or construction paper to help with clean up, and you'll want to have containers for mixing your paints and water to clean your brushes nearby.
Step 3: Paint the Flower Pot Blue
After your flower pot is clean and dry, you can apply the base color. I used a sponge brush to add the blue - the sponges apply a thinner, more even layer of paint - but you can also just use a regular paint brush. In addition to the outside of the pot, you'll want to paint the rim and several inches of the inside as well. It's not necessary to paint the rest of the inside since soil will be covering it when you plant your flowers, but if you'd prefer the entire pot to look uniform, it won't hurt to paint the rest.
Your first layer of paint will likely look splotchy, so just continue building up the color until it is opaque. Make sure that you allow the paint to dry in between each layer. Once you've achieved your desired opacity, allow the paint to dry completely before moving on.
Step 4: Add a Strip of Brown at the Bottom
Once you have your base color down, use a paint brush to add a strip of medium brown all the way along the bottom of the pot. You'll divide this strip into individual bricks later, but for now just ensure that it's roughly the same height all the way around. Again, this will likely require several coats in order to be opaque.
Step 5: Use a Pencil to Sketch Outlines
Using the brown bricks at the bottom as a guide, use a pencil to lightly sketch outlines of all the details you want to include in your painting. For my scene, I included Mario, several blocks, a pipe, a bush, a star, Goomba, a flag pole, and a castle, but you can add or remove any items based on what you want the final product to look like.
Step 6: Add Details to the Bricks
Once you have your details mapped out, go back to working on the bricks. You'll add a series of white and black lines in a continuous pattern all the way around the pot. For mine, I started with one brick, first painting all the white lines and then going back and adding the black. I then repeated this pattern by adding all the white lines across the entire bottom and then going back and drawing the black pieces, but you can also just go brick by brick if it helps you visualize the pattern better.
As you get closer to finishing the row of bricks, estimate to see if the bricks will meet back evenly at the beginning of the first brick you painted. If there isn't enough room for a full-sized brick, just slightly adjust the sizes of the last few bricks so the difference won't be as noticeable. If you mess up during any part of the process, just use your brown to paint over the area, allow it to dry, and repaint the bricks.
Step 7: Paint the Goomba, Castle, and Brown Blocks
You can then move on to filling in the outlines of the objects that are primarily brown. You can use the same shade of brown that you used for the bricks to paint the Goomba and empty ? Blocks, but mix a slightly darker brown for the castle and brick blocks. Once the bases are dry, use black and white or cream to add details.
Step 8: Paint the Flag, Pipe, and Bush
For the flag pole, start with a brown block at the base, and then add two white and two black edges, as shown. Use a light yellow-green for the pole and white for the flag. Add darker green shapes on the flag and at the top of the flag pole. Fill in the pipe with a lighter green and then use a darker green to add shadowing. Use this same dark green to paint the bush, adding black shapes to the upper right corner.
Step 9: Paint the ? Blocks and Star
Next, move on to painting the predominantly yellow objects - the ? Blocks and star. For the ? Blocks, mix a bit of brown and orange with yellow to paint the base, and then add two brown lines - one on the left and one on the top - and two black lines - one on the bottom, the other on the right - to the sides to outline the block. Use the same brown to add a blocky question mark in the center of each block, and add a black shadow. Finally, add a small black square to each corner of the the blocks.
For the star, start by painting it with the same yellow you used for the base of the ? Blocks. Darken some red paint by mixing it with black and use this color for the rectangular eyes.
Step 10: Paint Mario
To finish your design, paint the 8-bit version of Mario. You should have already figured out the shape for your outline, but if you're having trouble with the proportions, just break the image into squares. Start at the left shoe, which should have four squares across the bottom with three right-aligned squares on the second layer. Moving back to the bottom layer, you should skip four squares and then paint the right shoe - four squares at the bottom and three left-aligned squares on the second layer. By breaking the rest of the image up into squares of equal size, you can figure out the rest of Mario's proportions.
To add color, paint the shoes, shirt, mustache, hair, and eye with an olive green. Use a dark peach for the hands, ear, face, and buttons, and add a bit of white and black to red to make a dusty red for the hat and overalls.
Step 11: Seal the Design
Allow your paint to dry completely (at least several hours, but preferably overnight). Once it is dry, you'll want to seal your design with a sealant spray. For a more natural-looking flower pot, use a matte sealant, but if you'd prefer a glossier look, you can also use a gloss spray.
Make sure to take your project to a well ventilated area (preferably outside), and use newspaper to protect your work surface and gloves to keep the sealant off your hands.
Follow the directions on the packaging of your sealant. For my Krylon matte finish spray, I sprayed the flower pot with a coat of the sealant and allowed the first layer to dry for several minutes before adding a second coat of sealant (with a matte finish, you can tell that it is dry enough to spray again when the sealant has lost its shine). I then waited several hours for the flower pot to dry. Again, you'll want to check the instructions on your sealant to make sure you correctly seal your project.
Step 12: Plant Flowers
Once the flower pot is completely dry, you can add your soil and plant your flowers!
Unless you used a waterproof outdoor-formula sealant, your flower pot won't be completely protected from the weather, but the matte sealant should keep it safe enough to withstand major chipping and damage in the warmer months, and you can always touch the pot up later or start on a brand new one when this one starts showing its age!