With our Crafty Chica Garden Glam Challenge in full swing, I thought it only perfect to Flashback to the Crafty Chica Kathy Cano Murillo’s first contribution to the pages of CRAFT magazine. In CRAFT Volume 01, the Crafty Chica taught us how to take standard plain terra cotta pots and infuse them with some signature Latin-infused bling. Read on to make your own. To enter the contest, please submit your project photos to the contest Flickr group pool. Please include a brief description (up to 200 words) of your project, creation process, inspiration, materials, etc.
Spiff up terra cotta with vivid color and clay.
By Kathy Cano Murillo
Folk artists in Mexico are a shining example of what being crafty is all about. They can’t simply run to Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics for a hunk of fuchsia clay. Instead, our south-of-the-border friends make the most of their resources. The results are shiny, happy, thrifty, and wickedly clever. From painted tequila bottles to glittered cigarette boxes to wood frames trimmed in bottle caps, the materials and concoctions are endless.
I channeled that infectious spirit for this project, and used only what I had on my art table to accessorize a bland flowerpot. Toothpicks and head pins are great for making microdots, and small paint bottles as templates for shapes. The secret to this look is to cram in as many contrasting primary colors as possible.
Large terra cotta pot
Assorted acrylic paints
Water-based brush-on varnish
Box of Sculpey polymer clay or air-dry clay will work fine too
Cookie sheet and oven
Head pin or toothpick (for painting small details)
Step 1: Prepare the pot for painting.
Base-coat your pot with a paint color of your choice, then varnish it and let dry. Set aside.
Step 2: Make a template.
Use the bottom of the paint bottle to draw a silver- dollar-sized circle template on the cardstock. Cut out the template.
Step 3: Make the circles.
Working on a clean, flat area, pinch off a hunk of clay, flatten it, and use the template to cut out a circle.
Pinch off another piece of clay and roll it into a long skinny snake, about the size of a spaghetti noodle. Arrange it around the clay circle to look like a border, and cut excess with the craft knife. Add a swirly design of choice in the center and cut off excess. Make 10-12 more.
Step 4: Bake the clay.
Bake in oven according to package directions — usually about 15 minutes at 175 degrees. Remove and let cool.
Step 5: Paint the circles.
Base-coat the circles, then let dry. Add contrasting colors to the top ridges, let dry.
Use the head pin to add dots and squiggles, let dry. Add a coat of brush-on varnish, let dry.
Step 6: Attach the circles.
Hot glue the circles around the rim of the pot. Add more painted designs if desired, and a coat of high gloss varnish for that extra punch.
Variation: Add glitter to your circles, or make them in squares or other shapes. Use the clay to spell out words or other designs. Alternate the sizes of the circles for a crazier effect. If you absolutely must, use rubber or foam stamps on clay circles instead of swirlies.
Now set your festive pot on your windowsill, and you and your beloved plants will sing out ¡Que bonita!
More Latin Craft Ideas
Want to whip up some more Mexicana crafts? Follow these simple tricks to spice up ordinary objects without breaking into your piggy bank. Visit your local import store to find these goodies — otherwise they can be found on eBay.
- Loteria — a popular Mexican bingo game — features cards with more than 50 images that can be cut up and glued onto boxes, tabletops, greeting cards, journals, and bottles.
- Get a hold of some old Mexican movie posters, reduce them by making color copies, then laminate them to make a set of placemats for your next Mexican meal.
- Use Spanish-language newspaper, gossip magazines, candy wrappers, and other paper items for scrapbook pages or collage art.
- Use milagros (small Mexican charms believed to make miracles come true) to make jewelry, or scatter them around a table to liven up a centerpiece.
About the Author:
Kathy Cano Murillo is the founder of CraftyChica.com and the author of Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul: Glittery Ideas to Liven Up Your Life, Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing, The Crafty Chica Collection: Beautiful Ideas for Crafts, Home Decorations and Shrines from the Queen of Latina Style, and Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel.