I have a slight obsession with succulents, if you weren’t already aware. Every one I’ve had has suffered a slow, depressing death, of course. Inside: not enough sunlight. Outside: too much direct sunlight. I can’t keep them happy. But! We mustn’t give up on our dreams. So, when I came across this post on Bungalow M, I fell face-first in love with these planters. (Hope you like puns.)Aren’t they fun? The next thing I knew, similar planters were popping up all over the place. And they were getting weirder. And I was loving it.
Kinda creepy, but mostly charming. Not unlike myself. I liked ’em so much, thought I’d try my hand at making my own. Here’s what I came up, and if you like them, you can make them, too:MATERIALS
+ one or more thrifted white coffee or tea cups – A small collection is interesting to look at. I got mine at Goodwill for 99¢ each. The lower the quality of the cup, the better the Sharpie will adhere to the glaze.
+ one black sharpie permanent marker or paint pen – You could use only Sharpie markers.
+ one set of watercolor paints – Or, you could use only watercolors. I used both a Sharpie and a set of Prang watercolors. There are paints made specifically for ceramic, but I wanted to work with my Prang set. Don’t sue me.
+ one can of clear high-gloss spray paint – This is needed if you use watercolors.
+ rubbing alcohol
+ cotton balls
+ Q-tips – The last three items will help you prep the ceramic and clean up your design.
+ small plants! – They’re in season, you probably trip on a few on the way to your mailbox.
1. First things first, remove any price stickers or gunk from your cups. Clean them in warm soapy water, then wipe them down with rubbing alcohol to remove any leftover debris.
2. At the end of the process, after your cups have been sealed with spray paint, they will no longer be safe to drink out of. (DIY at your own risk, kids.) I decided to scroll a warning around the inside of each cup, though the bottom would work, too:
PLANTER ONLY – DON’T DRINK FROM ME – TOXIC
That way, if they wind up at Goodwill in 15 years, people will still know not to drink out of them. (I’m paranoid, whatever.)
3. Next, decide where you want to position the face on the planter. You can draw the face opposite from the handle, so that the handle is hidden, or next to the handle, so that the handle shows. Life’s full of tough decisions.
4. Use the Sharpie to draw facial features onto the cup. If you make a mistake, a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol should remove the ink.
5. When you’re satisfied with the details drawn in Sharpie, enhance them using the watercolors. Play around with the opacity of the paint, your brush strokes, even tilting the cup as the paint dries—who says DIY projects have to be miserable? If you make a mistake, a Q-tip dipped in water should remove the paint.
Once the paint dries, be careful not to touch it until it’s been sealed with spray paint—it’ll smudge, and you’ll be sad.
6. Let the cup hang out for 24 hours, so the Sharpie ink has ample time to dry.
7. The next day, place your cup(s) on the top rack of an oven while it’s still off. With the cups inside, set the temp to 425°. Once the oven reaches 425°, let the cups bake for 45 minutes. Then turn the oven off, leaving the cups inside to cool down. Remove the cups only after they’ve cooled completely.
Baking the cups seals the Sharpie ink, but not the watercolors. Allowing the cups to warm and cool with the oven air prevents the ceramic from cracking.
8. Find a clear, flat spot outside to lay down some newspaper. Place your cups upside down on the newspaper, and give ’em a quick once-over with clear high-gloss spray paint.
If you’ve used a Sharpie on your cup, you must bake the cup before spray painting it, or the ink will run, and you’ll be sad.