Monday, December 30, 2013

Mod Podge Pots

Aren't these cute?

I don't normally post craft project how-tos, but I made these Mod Podged pots for Christmas gifts, 
and I learned so much that I thought I'd share the details.

First, though, some words of warning: This project is not for you if you....
*Have no patience
*Hate asymmetry
*Don't like to make messes
*Don't like to have wet or dried glue on your fingers
*Like things to be perfect (These pots may look amazing from a distance, but if you look closely, you'll see plenty of wrinkles.)

Important Tips:
*Wear old clothes; you're likely to get Mod Podge all over them
*Protect surfaces you'll be working on/around (I used paper grocery bags cut open and spread out.)
*Cut up your paper scraps first, rather than as-you-go
*Buy enough Mod Podge; I used 4 ounces for per pot, roughly.
*Keep your fingers wet with Mod Podge when smoothing out the paper
*You can use spray Mod Podge for a final coat, but it smells really badly, so find a well-ventilated, 70-degree area in which to spray it.

 My biggest piece of advice is to practice first to get the feel of working with these materials; working with curved surfaces is tricky.

Yes, my practice pot has a photo on it. Photos can look amazing on these pots. They can also run and get ruined, so don't get too excited.  I made two other pots as Christmas gifts, and they had photos on them, but that was not without its major headaches, and I'm not ready for that tutorial! My sample was a great way get the feel for working with Mod Podge and paper. I've also made pots with fabric, instead of paper, and that, too is complicated and frustrating, so I'm not explaining that now.

Back to the basics! I originally got this idea from a pot I'd seen at someone's house. Wrapping paper was what had been used, so that's what I went with.

I looked everywhere for wrapping paper when I was trying to make an all-season type gift a few months back; seriously, wrapping paper has gone out of style, except when it comes to Christmas. All I could find was gift bags. I ended up using a combination of paint and fabric, getting mixed results with both. For this tutorial, I'm using wrapping paper from Current, because it's of excellent quality; it's not wimpy, and they have an assortment that I really loved. Plus, if you buy it at the right time of year, you can get some great deals.

I used the die cutter at school to cut shapes out of the various papers I'd bought. 
You could also use scrap booking materials, too, I'm sure.


I planned out which shapes I wanted to put on which base-designs, like so:

That part is optional, of course, but I liked using the cut-outs as patches to cover my mistakes.

Gather your other supplies: a pot and base, Mod Podge, craft brushes of your choosing, and the paper (Oh, and felt and a glue gun to finish off the bottoms).

I had no clue how to make these pots and didn't have any online instruction, so I experimented. 
I made four pots, and I used three different methods. 
For one, I cut the paper in 4" x 10" pieces, like so.

Paint the pot surface you're covering withing with Mod Podge. Then paint the backside of the paper scrap, lay it over the pot surface, and paint over the top surface with Mod Podge, smoothing any wrinkles with a wet finger, taking care not to press too hard. (This process reminded me a little of paper mache.) This is where the practice pot comes in; rub on it with a dry finger and see what happens. (The paper becomes delicate after a while.)

Mod Podging over nice, flat surfaces is easy; curvy surfaces, not so much. You will need to be super-comfortable with some wrinkles. One way to minimize them is by cutting around the curves to "loosen up" the paper before folding it over the edge.

This photo shows wrinkles on the left and slits on the center/right pieces, which helped me lay them down more smoothly after that.

Cover the entire pot, patching where necessary due to gaps,
and making sure you've painted over the entire exterior surface with a thin coat of Mod Podge.
I also made some pots using bigger sheets of paper.
I also tried cutting the paper into 4" x 4" pieces. 
None of those methods seemed to work better than the other, in my opinion;
I guess you just have to see what works for you.

You'll also need to cover the bases of the pots, unless you'd rather just paint them to match, 
which is a lot less tedious than this: 

Note: Take the sticker off first.

Notice that I used a drying rack to set the wet pots/lids on. That's the best idea I could come up with. When a pot is still quite wet, don't let it dry on the rack without moving it now and then, or it will get stuck and tear the paper off.


I trimmed off the extra paper here so that it wouldn't wrinkle as much.

Here's a shot of me using a bigger sheet of paper.

To fold it over, I had to cut it.

Here's what happens if you touch the wet paper with too-dry fingers; it can tear, or you can rub the color off the print.

The paper gets delicate when it's super-wet.

Don't worry, though; you can always patch those areas later.

 This is messy work; stop every now and then to smooth out excess Mod Podge 

and wipe up gobs, as they will look like dried snot when they dry.

Don't worry how perfect the bottoms look, 
especially if you decide to cover them and they end up looking like this:

I cut matching felt into circles and attached them with a hot glue; 
that turns out nicely and keeps the pots from scratching the bases.

 Here's a shot of the inside of a pot getting covered with 4 x 4 pieces. 

Cover the inside bottom, too; it just looks nicer. I should note that these pots are no longer intended to hold actual dirt once they are Mod-Podged. I bought a poinsettia and placed the entire plant/pot inside Grandma 4444's pot, and it looked great.

If you've cut shapes out for accents, paint their back sides with Mod Podge, 

then paint the place on the pot that you'll be applying them to, and paint over them after applying, too.

Don't worry about how messy the finished product looks; when the Mod Podge dries, it looks great.

This project is not for anyone in a hurry; they take a day to completely dry, and each of these pots took me little over an hour.

As for working with photos, I haven't found the perfect science, nor have I Googled it. I had some success by laminating the photos first and then hot-gluing them onto the pots, but I was also able to simply Mod Podge over some photos without wrecking them.  Other photos (especially those with red in them, for some reason) tended to bleed.  I haven't figured out the perfect science, so I would only encourage you to experiment on extra copies of treasured photos.

So there you have it! If you're still game, I say go for it!  Let me know how it goes....

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