• Arlynnda

Up-cycled Vases: Trash to Terra-cotta

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

When I found this tutorial from Geneva Vaderzeil, I was awe-struck. It's genius. We are all surrounded by thrift stores swimming in ugly, old vases, begging to be up-cycled and saved! (I went to ONE store and found dozens of vases to choose from and came home with THIRTEEN!)

But most of us wouldn't want to put these directly on our shelves or fireplace mantles. However, I dare you to not want these all over your house after this simple DIY!

Just look at these before and after shots!

This technique allows you to take a hodgepodge of random, thrifted vases and elevate them to look like beautiful, handmade ceramics!


  • thrifted vases of various sizes and shapes

  • paint-- I used actual Flat BEHR paint, I just got a small sample size made in the colors I wanted! (pictured below)

  • paint brush-- I just used a cheap bristled craft brush. I think this helped provide extra texture.

  • baking POWDER-- This is important!! NOT baking soda!

  • something to mix the paint in-- I used plastic cups.

Paint colors:

Pink- BEHR Marquee, Shiny Kettle, flat finish, sample size

Orange- BEHR Marquee, Terra Cotta Urn, flat finish, sample size

White- BEHR Marquee, White (yes, that's the name!), flat finish, sample size

Before we get started, here's a little lesson on baking powder and paint:

In this tutorial, we will be mixing our paint with baking powder. The baking powder creates a chemical reaction with the water in the paint and causes the paint to puff up before your eyes! (Hence, why it's important to use baking POWDER instead of soda!) The baking powder gives a puffy texture to the paint that will make your vases look (and feel!) like handmade ceramics. The flat finish of the paint also adds to the dry, coarse, feel of actual terra-cotta!

Here is a video of the paint puffing up after adding the baking powder!

Okay, here's how to go from #trashtoterracotta!:

Step 1:

Add your paint to the mixing container. I did a few ounces at a time. A little goes a long way, especially once you mix it with the baking powder! Once it starts puffing up, you'll have more paint than what you started with.

Step 2:

Add your baking powder. I did not measure, just know that the more you add, the thicker and coarser the texture will be and the less you add, the thinner and smoother your paint will be. I'd start with about a tablespoon and see if you'd like to add more paint or more powder.

Step 3:

Mix your paint with your brush and brush onto your vases! I only needed one coat for the pink and orange colors, but I added a second coat of white paint after the first one dried because it wasn't as solid. Looking back, I'd probably do two coats on everything just to add more texture. I also painted a little ways inside the pot to make it look more realistic, but from some angles you can still see the old color. The paint dries pretty quickly, so use it while you can!

Ta-da! You did it! Now you can accessorize your pots with some dried flowers or some DIY paper palm fronds (tutorial coming soon!) and proudly display them throughout your home!

Happy crafting!


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