Giving new terracotta some old character!
After a big storm, nearly all my plastic terracotta coloured planters blew off our balcony creating a huge soil-y mess and shattered plastic everywhere. Bearing in mind these planters had soil and plants (albeit some very dried out old plants) in them, it was a pretty strong wind that blew through our valley that night - to be fair to me the plants were annuals and so were old dried out as it was the end of summer and they were on their last legs anyway.
So now we were left with big bare spaces on our balcony (I say balcony but it's a really big space the length of our whole house so there's lots of space up there) and I was keen to replace my rubbishy old plastic pots with something else. Why did I buy plastic pots in the first place - well mostly because I was worried that if the pots ever fell down, they would smash into pieces and possibly kill someone, but this happened anyway with the plastic ones (the smashing bit not the killing someone bit) so I decided to go for real terracotta this time and rely on the fact that these bad boys were so heavy it would take a hurricane to shift them.
The problem with new terracotta is that it looks so shiny and new. Now I'm not really into shiny and new (well for the most part); there's been a few occasions where I've bought something for the garden, an ornament or pot that's been aging nicely at a garden centre covered in dirt and moss, and the salesperson has said 'Oh I'll just get you a new one from out the back' to have me cry 'no I want it to be old and scabby looking!' In the past I've painted milk over terracotta pots and let nature take it's course; the pot here is one I did several years ago now and it's aged and chipped nicely now. But sometimes you want to skip the waiting game and get something more aged now.
So I took my shiny new pots and used some paint, water, wax and dirt to give them some instant aging.
I started with a wash mix of off white chalk paint which I slapped on with a large chalk paint brush to work it into the crevices and the quickly wiped off as much as I could with a cloth. I kept the surface nice and wet with a spray bottle which allowed me more time to wipe off white where I wanted and blend everywhere.
Once the white was applied I used a smaller chalk paint brush to dry brush on some coffee coloured chalk paint to corners and details. I dipped my brush in the paint, brushed off the excess onto a piece of kitchen paper and used fast and light brush strokes to add colour, again using my water spray bottle to wet the surface where I felt the white and coffee colours needed blending more.
And, because I was playing by now, I decided to add a little gilding wax to add a touch more depth and shimmer. So with a VERY light touch I used another small waxing brush, dipped this into my wax and brushed off as much excess as I could before dusting this over a corner or two and onto some of the detailing. Less is more with this wax but if you're quick you can brush a little on and the buff and blend it nicely to give a more subtle look. It's difficult to see in the photo below but there's some metallic highlighting on some of the stems and leaves.
I gave the surface a light sand with a 220 grit paper just to let some of the original surface to come through. The final step was to brush the whole surface with large waxing brush that I smushed around in some slightly damp dirt, just to add some real wear and tear! Over time these will get more and more aged as the paint wears; I've not sealed them with anything as I don't want them to stay as they are, but if I lived somewhere more rainy and these were going to be in an un-sheltered spot, I might give them a single coat of something clear. I'll see how they fare, and let you know!