One of the lingering memories from our Tuscan vacation years ago, beyond the wine and food, was the terra cotta color everywhere. It was on the roofs. It was on the bricks. It ran along the village roads. And of course it was in garden pots. It’s said that although the stone is crumbling at Rome’s historic sites, Italian terra cotta bricks and tiles made during Caesar’s time still look good today.
Sources: My naturally-aged terra cotta pot; Terra cotta roof and bricks in Panicale, Umbria, Italy
You can recreate the terra cotta look on any surface with paint. Today I’ll show you how to paint wall art on curved wood panels that are reminiscent of the curving terra cotta roof tiles in villages. As a bonus, because terra cotta pots from Italy often have raised panels on them, we’ll go through how to create raised designs with Wood Icing.
Supplies for this project:
- Italian stencil by Royal Design Studio such as the Pompeii Border Stencil
- Chalk PaintTM by Annie Sloan in light colors – Country Gray is spot-on for the natural aging color of terra cotta pots
- Wood Icing Textura Paste
- Any wood panel – I used the 365+ serving plate from Ikea, found in the kitchenware section
- Acrylic paints in various terra cotta colors
- Paint brushes
- Sandpaper or sanding block
First, we’ll create a raised pattern. Tuscan villages like Impruneta are famous for making terra cotta pots with raised patterns. I chose a simple Pompeiian design from Royal Design Studio’s vast selection of Italian style stencils to create a raised effect. This was my first time using Wood Icing, so even though I’m not an expert, the result was pretty good for a newbie. . I’d suggest, the first time you work with a new material, test it out on foam core board or scrap wood. It also helps to use the Wood Icing on a flat surface. Even though my wood panel is lightly curved, the stencil lays flat on it.
I followed the Wood Icing tips shared by Debbie Dion Hayes in her African Kuba Cloth Panels post:
1) Using a trowel or other tool with straight edge, pull some Wood Icing across the stencil
2) Let the section dry almost completely
3) Lift the stencil and lay it where you want the next pattern
4) Repeat steps 1, 2, and 3
If you want your pattern to be raised even more, after the first layer dries, lay your stencil back over the first layer and apply a second layer of Wood Icing, following the steps above. If there are any jagged edges or uneven surfaces, you can sand them with sandpaper or sanding block.
Because the Wood Icing bonds to a surface really well, clean it off your stencil and tools immediately. You can scrape off the excess with a trowel. Then use a scrub brush and water to scrub off the remaining Wood Icing. It’s easier to clean stencils if you spray Motsenbacker’s Lift-Off #5 Latex Paint Remover prior to cleaning.
Once the Wood Icing dries, paint the surface with a terra cotta color paint. I used Persimmon Americana acrylic paint. Terra Cotta has variations in color. To create some variation, paint a very light layer of a lighter terra cotta color in some random spots, like “feathering” on the color. It’s okay if it’s a little streaky. You might even want to add some blotches like naturally-aged pots.
Then, feather on a darker terra cotta color in some random spots. You can paint these colors more heavily if you like depending on the look you are going for. Once the acrylic paint dries, it has a non-shiny, matte surface like terra cotta.
Terra cotta pots can develop a chalky white patina on them as they age. This chalky look is perfect to make the raised stencil pattern pop out more visually. To do this, dip the tip of your brush into the Chalk Paint®. I used Country Gray Chalk Paint® brushing off most of the paint on a paper towel. Your brush should be nearly dry. Then flick the brush lightly over the raised stencil. It’s better to brush very lightly and build up the color by repeatedly flicking the brush over the raised stencil.
After applying Country Gray, I added very light touches of Old White in a few spots. As you can see, dry brushing some light Chalk Paint on the raised stencil makes a big difference in the final look of the trays!
We would love to see your fun stencil DIYs! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram your photos and tag us with #royaldesignstudio.