Sunday, August 18, 2013

She's Gone to Pot

Years ago, while reading Martha Stewart's Gardening, I discovered
her technique for antiquing urns and pots. I spent many happy afternoons dabbling with paint and adding instant patina to urns. As trends came and went, those pots were painted and repainted many times. My sons would say, "Mom's gone to pot again."

It was true in so many way, I couldn't disagree.

Over the last six years, I was swamped with projects that left no time for faux painting.
My pots were left alone. These lightweight, man-made products didn't age one bit, which is the whole point, I suppose.

This particular pot was used to plug a goat hole in the fence. The hole
was filled, and I decided to "Martha" the pot.

You may have seen last week's urn makeover.
This time, I lightly sprayed the pot (and did not use the "secret" ingredient,
which you can read about HERE. Though it worked beautifully, I
didn't want the pots to be identical).

Back to my pot. I wanted it to have faux "moss" and patina, so I decided to do something wild and tested washable paints from the grocery store. I'm happy to report that the paint made it thorough several hard rain showers.
Not so washable, at least after it dried, which turned out to be a good thing.
I also used some specialty Martha paints, which I'll show in a moment.

I used a pale lime green "crackle" paint (Martha Stewart brand) that I found at Home Depot.
I began with the grocery store "washable" paints, creating several shades of green.
First, dab the colors with a sponge brush.
Always work from left to right--or right to left.
Try not to work up and down.
The mossy patterns are more realistic when you make horizontal brush strokes.

Use a wider brush to blend the colors.

A damp paper towel (an old sock or dish towel is even better) will
blend and "knock back" the brighter green paint. A damp cloth will also blur mistakes--but you must work rapidly.

The paint dries super-fast,
which means you must work at warp speed.
If the paint dries and you think it's too thick (or the wrong color),
wet your cloth again and dab like mad. You may be unable to remove
80% of the paint at this point. I'll tell you how to deal with that in a moment.

For now, move the wet cloth in a circular motion--as if you are
applying make-up to your cheeks and forehead. Use a light touch and keep blending.

If you are called away from your project, and the paint dries in globs,
whip out sandpaper, the rougher the better.
In fact, you'll want to run the sandpaper over your pot here and there. Let
creamy, white places show through. A little elbow grease will reveal the original color of the pot--in this pot's case, we had several colors.
Just spend a little time with Miss Martha, and you'll learn that faux patina comes from building layers and then knocking off bits and chips.

Use a fine brush and dip it in dark paint.
You don't have to use black. Make your own burnt umber and at least three
shades of green. Here's a refresher on mixing and creating colors.
I opted for black.

Rather than draw a straight line, make little dots,
then connect the dots.
It doesn't have to be perfect--in fact, you don't want your
pot to look as if it came off an assembly line. Right?

Use a flat sponge brush to soften the line.
Keep dabbing (gently).
You'll want the "line" to resemble dirt--years and years of grime.

Use a brush with flexible bristles and dab a mixture of black and dark green
here and there. Look at photos of moss to see how it grows--splotchy, and usually on one side of a pot or tree (the shady side).

If your pot has a raised design,
run a small brush over the designs (suggestions: burnt umber or green or black--whatever feels
right for your pot is the right color choice).

Wipe the brush on a paper towel and "dab" it over the "moss"
to smear it. 

Add texture with the green "crackle."
I didn't follow the instructions, so I didn't get a crackle finish--I liked how the
light green "Martha" paint added a raised layer.
Below, you can see my tools.
The "washable" paints (Publix; K-Mart) have a really light, pretty
shade of green, and also a deeper green. Martha's "crackle" (Home Depot) comes
in several colors. I wasn't pleased with the primer, though.
I found the faux concrete spray paint at K-Mart and Home Depot. It also comes in a few colors.
(If you goof with the faux moss, just spray a little faux concrete paint on the mistake. Let it dry and start over.)
You'll need sandpaper, a paper plate to mix paints, water, jars for your brushes--
and don't forget mosquito or bug spray. Sweat bees can be a major distraction!

An afternoon shower forced me to rush inside.
When the storm ended, my paints were intact.
(The smeary part on the urn was my mistake.)
I got busy mixing, sponging, and dabbing.

I've got to decide what to do with my other pots. I experimented the other day and wished I'd left them alone (terra cotta is always lovely). Sandpaper and elbow grease might be in order. I'll need to work fast: every day this week has a 25% chance of rain.

So, my pot began with 50 Shades of Gray
and ended up with 50 Shades of Green.
 Naturally I made a horrific mess on the porch.
After a summer of Lyme's and joint pain,
my toy-like blower is perfect. Not too heavy.
Didn't blow me to Oz.

More make-overs are in progress at the farm. This weekend, Bandwidth repaired our old Adirondacks. They were starting to get a bit too rustic. Really, they were
falling apart on a daily basis.
Bandy is in the process of sanding, painting, sanding, painting.
Bandy did a great job!

It's hard to believe how much the mums and vines have grown in just one week--especially because they were attacked by goats. You can see the urns when they were first planted by clicking HERE.

I replaced the Persian violets (bought at Publix early this summer) with mums
and planted the violets along the walkway.

 The broken urn was attacked by goats, but the
flowers have bounced back.
 I've ordered garden clogs.
Just waiting for them to arrive!
I've got my eye on the gray urn.
It was given to me 6 years ago by a garden store (the urn was falling apart and chipped). I painted it gray to match the shutters, but now I'm looking forward to making it look old and mossy.

It's been a challenge to garden at Bald Hill Farm.
Every plant and shrub has been devoured by a herd of pygmy goats.
They have a scorched earth police.

If you looked down upon the farm from a space satellite, it would frighten you!
You can see (left urn) where Maude the goat ate the vines. This, despite
all of the food DH gives the little herbivores.

I've ordered new wreaths for the doors.
Still can't decide if we should stain or paint the front doors.
My husband tripped on the "goat" gates, so we're testing a trellis, hoping the livestock will keep away
from the vines and DH won't get hurt!

The mums received their first feeding today.


Do you remember the potted perennials that were waiting to be planted?

We finally planted them along the garden path.

We struggled to find places for the False Dragonheads.
They need to be 12" apart. I couldn't get two rows, so I ended up with one.
Our shovels kept hitting the underground soaker hoses.

Bandwidth hooked up hoses that had been sliced by the mowers,
and I gave the flowers good, deep drinks.

We weed the path regularly. Great exercise!
My purple coneflowers (you can barely see them in the far right) look sickly.

It's so hard to plant deep holes, because we always hit the irrigation
hoses. But we're getting there, bit by bit.
Now, to finish the Adirondacks...

And to work up my courage to dead-head the lavender.

Looking ahead...
Finding a place for the dovecote, and thinking about touches of autumn in the cottage garden.

Until then, thanks for stopping by Rattlebridge Farm.
*All photos were taken by iPhone.
 Metamorphosis Monday and Wow Us Wednesdays contributions.

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  1. I was busy trying to figure out how to link to your Foodie Friday party and when I finally figured it out, I came back and you already had another post published! Hurray! Your pots really do look mossy! And I had to laugh whenever you mentioned your plants being attacked by goats! I've never heard (or read) that phrase before and it gave me a chuckle (sorry about your plants, though).
    I mentioned this in the other comment, but I am a new follower and am already enjoying your posts! :)

  2. Your pots look wonderful, love the large one that you painted, it is such a pretty pot anyway...Love the way you potted them the vines look amazing...Your porch looks wonderful with the great rabbits....Phyllis

  3. WOW- you all have been really super busy! WOW!!!

    Things are lookin mighty spiffy over there, darlin! Enjoying your sharing the transformations.

    Have a wonderful week.

  4. Hi, I enjoyed seeing your techniques for "mossing the pots". We have had so much rain here all my pots are growing their own moss. I love your collection of pots and the plants are looking great.
    You mentioned underground soaker hoses. Are they regular hoses covered in light soil or is that a professional installation. My grandson covered some regular soaker hoses for their garden. So far they are working OK. I was just wondering if you had any experience with that application.
    Thanks for sharing, Ginger

    1. That's the best kind of moss--the real kind. These soaker hoses were installed by the previous owner. They didn't want the irrigation "heads" to beat down the lavender and delphiniums, etc. The hoses are very thick (pale reddish pink color) and were installed just a few inches beneath the topsoil. Yesterday, when I was digging (be still my heart!), I found Y-connections. It looks like a professional installation to me. Copper lines are buried, too. Everything in the path garden has flourished (except what I've planted. But I'm a newbie!).
      For my husband's small vegetable garden, I bought three soaker hoses at K-Mart, attached them, and snaked them around the beds and beside the hedge. The hoses are above ground. The plants are doing well. I have a sweeping sprinkler (above ground) in the hill garden, and it's beating down some of the plants. Next year I'll get soaker hoses. Good wishes to you and your grandson's garden.

  5. oh i LOVE your new pic, you look so perky, so southern, SO CUTE!

    what a darling poolside too, the last pic i saw was naked a good many years ago! you even have the fireplace to relax, how wonderful~

    you are having urn fun indeed, love all your details. and your fresh new chairs, i painted some beach colors myself. but to be honest... i love the beat and weathered look, LIKE ME!

    i too just freshened my window boxes, like minded these days~

    and you have joined the world of clogs! what color ;-)

    well girl you are indeed enjoying the soil beneath your nails and toes, ain't live grand! all looks wonderful and fresh, and for hot summers that is saying scads!

    still at the beach and we just got big fat RAIN DROPS! i am was stunned, but as i just told my husband i live like its 1930s and have NO idea whats going on in the world or weather with no tv, he told me at home thunder and lightning expected, scary for fires... i guess a tropical storm from mexico is causing this for us, we don't get this type of weather, naturally the fog parts for rain... my summer of gray, a new book coming out soon!

    1. I love the weathered look, too. Your chairs were built in the day when things lasted. I don't know the age of our Adirondacks, but every day, a piece fell off. I was so scared one of the ducks--or a human-- would step on a nail-ridden board. I've got a doozy of a situation going on with my teak Lutyen's bench. I bought teak oil at HD. First, Bandy needs to repair the broken bits.

  6. Flower power clogs. Bandwidth and Will bought black man clogs, too. Bandy says thank you. His clogs already arrived. That's scary about the weather--hope Scott and your house stay safe!

  7. Hi Michael, Lee, I love how you did your pot, it looks wonderful. The adirondack chairs look amazing too When we were at the old house, Joe would get moss from the ground and attach it to stones around the pond and it would grow! So pretty. Hope you have a good week. Love your new picture too!!!!!

    1. That's a great idea about a pond--so perfect.

  8. All your steps were worth it! The big pot looks great. I'm sure you plants will grow just fine- as long as they have time to get established and watered they'll come back nicely. Are the goats yours? I'd be trying a more permanent solution to keeping them out. I always tought goats were cute, but not if they were eating my plants!

  9. Whew! I'm exhausted just reading all that you've been working on, ML. The end results look GREAT!

    I remember, long ago, Martha telling folks to spread yogurt onto terracotta pots & leave them outside. A natural moss/algae growth will give them an aged patina. I never tried it thought.

    Your goats sound like the deer around here. They devoured my roses, ate 15 buds in one night! There isn't a single yellow day lily left & they actually pulled some of my geraniums straight out of the ground! Grrrrr!

    Love the new wreaths you've ordered!!

  10. I never could get moss to grow from a buttermilk mixture, though I tried! I'm excited about the wreaths. Wish I could hang them at Rattlebridge.

  11. You have been one busy girl! I'm with Rett. I'm exhausted just reading about all these projects. The pots look terrific. If I get some energy I might try this on some of the concrete pots we have. Love this aged look.
    I'll need to repot all the large stone urns on our back terrace once cooler weather arrives. They look pretty sad at the moment. I've not tried to keep them pruned and looking their best because it's just too hot. I've let them get frightfully overgrown.

    1. We're having thunder and lightning today. Odd weather!

  12. OMGosh Michael Lee~ ~I about fainted when I saw your front doors! ! Stunning. Where did you ever get them? There must be a story here somewhere. I haven't been around for some time so I'll have to check back posts.
    I love the casual effect of your flower beds, perennials mixed with a few evergreens. The beds around my house are the same. I love having lots of flowers to cut and decorate. It is a lot of work to keep them looking nice with weeding and deadheading. I start at the back steps and till I make it around the grounds I have to begin again. Stop complaining Ahrisha, this winter when it is all covered with snow you will be wishing you could get your hands in the dirt again.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    1. A few years ago, JELD-WEN made these same doors. They were available through Home Depot (I think). We ordered similar doors through our hometown builder's supply. The doors got caught in a hurricane off the coast of South America, and it took 8 months for them to arrive. :-) Our glass panes do not have a beveled edge; but they were a lot less $. Very sturdy, too.
      I enjoyed reading your comment SO much about gardening, weeding, and dirt. I am just learning about deadheading, and it scares the beeswax out of me! :=)