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2.09.2024

faux terra cotta painted hearts

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one last 'heart'-themed project for the month!
when i found four plastic hearts in my stash, i turned two of them
into faux moss covered topiary hearts (see my last post, linked below).

i held two back for this project - 
an easy faux paint treatment that turned two cheap plastic hearts
into something much more elegant and 'natural'.

using paint to change things is one of my favorite approaches
to seasonal decorating (and to not BUYING more stuff that i have to store)...

continue reading for my easy tutorial and a few more ideas!

DWK

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you might not have noticed, but the paint color i mixed is similar to
Pantone Color Institute's 2024 Color of the Year, 'Peach Fuzz'!
the paint i mixed was not as saturated as the actual color, but it is the same hue.
because it replicates the lighter hues of real terra cotta clay,
it still appears realistic.

tutorial

elements:
terra cotta color paint
(i mix white+brown+pink+orange acrylic paints to get the color i desire)
soft flat paint brush . fan-shaped paint brush . water . soft cotton fabric/towel
items to be painted - these are previously painted plastic heart containers

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process:

● begin with clean, dry items to paint. if they are glossy, spray on a primer coat first.
the hearts i used here were previously painted with my faux concrete technique.

● using the soft flat brush, paint the base color -
the 'terra cotta' hue you've decided on - onto all parts of the hearts. let dry. 
add a bit of white paint to your terra cotta hue to lighten it,
then give the hearts a second coat. let dry.

● using the fan brush, pick up some white paint on the ends of the bristles
and then lightly swipe it on a piece of paper to remove some of the paint.

● 'scrub' the almost dry paintbrush on the painted hearts,
spreading small bits of white paint across the surface.

● immediately take the soft cotton cloth and rub the white paint into the terra cotta paint,
softening the brush marks and making the surface look mottled.
this replicates the white 'efflorescence' or residue that appears on clay pots
(it's due to the hard water deposits) and gives the surface the effect of age. 

there is another method you can use to replicate the 'efflorescence':

● after applying the second coat of lighter terra cotta paint, let it dry only halfway.
●grab a spoonful of baking flour and sift it onto the still-wet surface of the hearts.
the flour will adhere to the wet paint. let it dry. 
● use a stiff-bristled paint brush to softly brush the excess flour off of the surface.
(i use this method when i paint faux concrete)
the result is a realistic replication of an aged surface.

if you plan to use painted items outdoors,
finish with a spray of clear matte paint as a sealer.

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i had cut the hanging hoops off of these hearts, so to display them
i simply opened the plastic hearts back up, and placed a ribbon between the halves.

originally, i had them hanging on the wreath,
then decided that i liked this arrangement better...
it's just a group of real terra cotta pots filled with yarn 'moss'
and some fabric hearts that i made way back in 2011.

i displayed them in my studio in my farmhouse on an island back then:
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(that very cool rusted paint surface on the metal urn is REAL, not paint!)

this time, the fabric hearts took a back seat to the terra cotta elements:
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on the wreath, i used more of the fabric hearts - hung with ribbon pinned on the backs - 
and the smallest pots i have on hand,
including the terra cotta 'bells' i made as holiday decor. 

below it on the 'mantel', a gathering of terra cotta pots in varied sizes
is filled with faux moss (eyelash yarn) and the fabric hearts.
it's a bit of a transitional display that combines winter and spring.

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