Learn how to create charming French Pots for your home and garden from simple terra cotta pots with our step-by-step tutorial.
Our tutorial shows how to create French Pots from scratch because bringing a very personal and meaningful touch to the home and garden is our goal. Happy potting!
Why we create
Building something from scratch is such a satisfying experience isn’t it? I’m sure I could find some French-inspired garden pots at a local boutique, but they wouldn’t be mine. Do you know what I mean by that? Knowing that I’ve made something with my own two hands makes that item feel more personal and therefore more meaningful and valuable. As a result my home and garden become more personal and meaningful as I fill it with things that evoke a certain mood, recall cherished memories, or provide inspiration and encouragement. This is what I strive for. Maybe this is true for you, too.
Acting on Inspiration
I have long admired custom-made French pots on Pinterest. Now I have a perfectly sun-lit kitchen window that is happy to house pots filled with herbs, so I’m sharing my process for achieving beautifully textured, aged, handmade French pots with a FREE printable transfer (available at the end of this post). Here’s what you need to get started:
- 6″ Terra Cotta pots: I found them cheapest at Walmart
- Small Container of Plaster/Spackling: The size depends on your project, but you should be able to finish 10 pots with an 8 ounce container
- White & Gray Chalk Paint: This not an exact science, so feel free to choose your own hues and brands. I used the Home Depot Behr Designer Chalk Paint in Tweed Coat and the Rust-oleum Linen White
- Dark Antique Wax: Any antique wax will do but I like the Behr Designer Antique Wax from Home Depot
- French Pot Transfer: Available at the end of the post
- 2″ Paint Brush
- Clean, Pill-free Linen Cloth
- 120 or 220 Grit Sandpaper
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS TERRA COTTA
This project requires 6″ terra cotta pots. You may choose to go smaller or larger but the free printable transfer will have to be scaled according to your needs in your printer settings.
The number of pots you create depends on your purpose. My purpose is to bring a little French inspiration into my kitchen and to decorate my daughter’s upcoming garden-themed wedding in May. I created 10 pots for my kitchen and plan on making more for the wedding, which I will give away as gifts in the end. I’m 100% certain you can think of a reason to make these French pots. They are so simple yet classy, rustic yet sophisticated, trendy yet timeless. They are so… French. Isn’t that enough? Amour.
AND THEN THERE WAS CHALK PAINT
First, we will add some chalk paint. Home Depot has this new line of Behr chalk paint that is gorgeous. I took a copy of the color palette home just to drool over it but I also bought a quart of Tweed Coat with a few projects in mind. I gave each of my terra cotta pots a good coat of Tweed Coat chalk paint. You can certainly use any dark gray or earthy brown chalk paint you have on hand or whatever brand you prefer. I’m just a sucker for the designer look of this brand of chalk paint. What can I say? It’s gorgeous. C’est magnifique.
AND THEN THERE WAS PLASTER
Then, after applying a coat of chalk paint and allowing it to dry, the next step is to generously smear some spackling over the pot. I used my fingers because a brush was not going to do the job. The more uneven the application, the better. This will create the textured, aging affect when the antique wax is applied later. This 8 ounce container of spackling was more than enough to cover my 10 pots. And I loved that the pink color turns white to let you know that it’s dry.
Before letting the spackling dry, pick a spot on the pot where you plan to transfer the French pot design. Apply a nice even coat of spackling roughly the size of the transfer. This will make the transferring process much, much easier. Don’t worry, we will sand down all those spots that are bothering you. Now let it dry. Sois patient.
AND THEN THERE WAS MORE CHALK PAINT
Next, after the spackling has thoroughly dried, give the pots a good sanding with some fine sandpaper (like a 120 or 220 grit). We’re just trying to achieve semi-smoothness; if you go too far with this you will sand the spackling right off the pot and won’t achieve the desired results.
After sanding, apply a thin coat of white chalk paint. I prefer to use Rust-oleum Chalk Paint in Linen White from Home Depot. I like the crispness of the color. When applying the paint be careful not to completely cover the surface, allow for some of the gray paint and terra cotta color to seep through. Beauté.
AND IT WAS GOOD
Now we have some good bones for starting the artistic process. First, we need to transfer the designs to the pots. There are a few different methods for transferring, but I prefer to use wax paper.
Wax Transfer Method
Cover one side of card stock with wax paper. Tape it down well so it doesn’t snag in your printer. The French pot design should already be in reverse and ready for you to print. Feed the wax paper into the printer and be careful not to smear the ink. Cut out the designs and remove the card stock.
Carefully place each transfer onto the pot right side down and hold tightly into place while using a credit card (or something like it) to rub the design onto the pot. Rub well and thoroughly so as not to miss any of the details. Then lift the wax paper away from the pot. The design should be in place. Allow to dry for a few hours before proceeding.
WAX ON, WAX OFF
Once the transfer is dry it’s time to add the antique wax. I use Dark Antique Wax from the Behr Chalk Paint line. I also like the Dixie Paint waxes as well. They have great colors and products. You don’t need an expensive brush and you can use an old linen cloth as long as it’s clean and it doesn’t pill.
This is where the artistry comes in. How much wax you apply and how much you wipe off is completely up to your taste. I tend to like a heavy dose of wax. I like a clearly aged look to my creations. Brush on the wax in very small amounts to acquaint yourself with how it works and decide what floats your boat. What makes you happy?
Using a very lightly damp cloth work the wax into the crevices and wipe off the excess. Work very gently and carefully around the transfer. Even when “dry” it can easily smear and bleed. This can be beneficial in making the pot look like it’s had a lot of wear and tear but too much bleeding and it looks exactly like you swiped your cloth across the design by accident. Again, there is going to be some experimenting with this. Use your inner artist and just play with it until it makes you heart sing. And I mean that quite literally. Then you know it’s done.
Finish off your masterpiece with a coat of matte finish spray. And viola!
AND IT WAS TIME TO REST FROM OUR LABOR
Now it’s time to rest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I can’t express enough how much creating something for my home and my garden brings me joy. My soul feels happiest and closest to God when I’m creating something beautifully inspiring.
To say that I am obsessed with the artistic flair of the French is an understatement. Everything they do is achieved with such effortless style and beauty. I wish I could emulate that level of finesse but I will settle for bringing in small elements of French culture into my life. These pots are more than just cute things to sit on the shelf, they represent a way of life. I want to be reminded on a daily basis to live in an extraordinary way. Une vie joyeuse.
How to fill the pots
Now it’s time to decide what to fill these pretty beauties with. Mine are filled with cilantro, mint, chives, and lavender and I am in love. You could certainly do some faux flowers or boxwood (mmmmmmm, boxwood). Boxwood and French pots are like best friends; maybe more like Friends-4-Ever. But don’t feel restricted to greenery, mon amie.
I grew all of my herb plants from seeds. To learn how to start your own seeds go here:
If you would like a super charming (and French-y) way to store your extra seeds or share them with others go here:
Don’t Forget to Share Your Thoughts
What’s a way that French pots inspire you? I would love hear your thoughts. Please share your experience with me in the comments below.
Happy French Potting! xo Jayme #frenchcountryliving #frenchpotsandboxwood4ever
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