Create these easy ombre dip dyed pots to bring some extra character and add a neat color effect to your terra cotta flower pots. Use them to decorate either inside or outside your home.
A few years ago I bought some terra cotta pots and some seed packets while at Home Depot. I fully intended on planting them, but as I am a master procrastinator that never happened. So the pots got pushed to the side and forgotten about like so many other things.
Then the other day I was rummaging through the garage and came across the three terra cotta pots. They were covered in dust but otherwise nothing was wrong with them. After a quick rinse in the sink they were good as new.
Because I’m always looking for new craft projects to do with all the odds and ends I’ve accumulated I wanted to try to make something with them. In the past I’d seen pots, planters, and other similar things colored with an ombre effect. And since I’m a huge fan of that I wanted to give it a try.
Not too far from where I had stashed the terra cotta pots in the garage I also had some bottles of Rit dye. They are mostly meant for fabric but I’d seen people also use it for dyeing unfinished wood. I wasn’t sure if it would work on a painted pot but since I already had the materials on hand it was worth a try! Thankfully for the most part everything worked out well and I’m happy to share what I learned in case anyone else would like to make these as well.
What You Will Need to Make Ombre Dip Dyed Pots
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Small Bucket or Container
Something to Stir Dye (I used popsicle sticks)
You also need some sort of white paint. I wanted to try a couple of different ones so I used both a matte craft acrylic and a spray primer. The craft paint is the Joann Fabrics store brand and costs less than a dollar a bottle. I think most brands would work similarly as long as it’s a matte and not a gloss.
I’ll say right now that the brush on craft acrylic worked MUCH better. The primer still worked, but I wouldn’t recommend using it for this particular project. I’ll go into more detail in the tutorial itself.
Although it didn’t end up working for this project, it’s still a good primer and can work well in other applications. I used this exact one when I primed my Glitter Seashell Ornaments before painting and it did a good job there.
How to Make Ombre Dip Dyed Pots
Step 1: Paint/Prime Pot
First you need to paint the pot white so the dye will properly show up. If using a spray primer, spray several coats onto the pot until it is a solid white. I needed three coats before I was happy with the color.
For craft acrylic or any other similar paint you will need a brush to apply it to the pot. I used a foam brush to do this, but any brush should work just fine.
For this paint I only needed two coats.
I painted one pot with the spray primer and the other two with the craft acrylic. In all three cases I also painted the insides of the pot. Depending on what you plan on putting in the pots after they are finished this may not be necessary. I haven’t decided what I want to put in them yet, so I wanted the entire surface of the pot to be covered.
After the paint has dried, the only real visible difference is you can see the brush strokes on the pots painted with the craft paint. In contrast, the primer is a completely smooth and even coat. In the end it’s not a big difference but I wanted to point it out.
Step 2: Prepare Dye Bath
Next you need to prepare the dye to color the pots. Any plastic or metal container will work as long as it’s big enough to dip the pot into. I would suggest one that’s not too much bigger than the pot so you don’t waste as much dye. Luckily I had a leftover container from my Perler beads that was the perfect size.
I would also suggest using a container not used for food. As I general rule I try not to use any food containers for crafting. After I was done the dye rinses completely clean from even the plastic, but there’s no telling what residue may be left that you can’t see, so it’s better to play it safe.
Now fill the bucket with water. The water level should be at least as high as you want your dye to reach on the pot. I used hot water because that is what was suggested on the back of the dye bottle. But those instructions are also meant for dyeing fabric so I don’t know if it would make a difference here.
Then add your dye to the water. Use a popsicle stick (or whatever stir stick you have) to mix the dye evenly throughout the water.
The size of your container, how much water you are using, and the color of your dye will all effect how much dye you need to use so unfortunately I can’t give a precise amount. For a general idea, though, I started out with somewhere around a couple of tablespoons. It’s better to start with less than more, since you can always add more later to darken the color.
Step 3: Dip Dye Pot
Now comes the fun part! Take your pot and dip it into the dye bath up to where you want the dye to reach. For mine that was about a half inch under the lip of the pot.
Hold the pot in the dye bath for a few seconds, then pull it back up. Most terra cotta pots have a hole in the bottom for drainage, so watch out for the dye splashing. I had a sheet of wax paper under my container to catch any stray drips.
I didn’t notice much of a difference in the color whether I held the pot in the dye for a few seconds or a few minutes so there’s not need to hold it in there for long.
When you’re happy with the color, add a bit more dye to the water and stir. Then dip your pot back into the dye but not as deep. Continue adding dye and dipping the pot until you are happy with the color effect.
There’s a bit of trial and error here as each color is going to show up a little differently. Here’s a shot of the purple pot as well, since you can see the color effect a little better.
This is also the part where I had trouble with the pot sprayed with the primer. I was using the teal dye and for whatever reason it wasn’t accepting the dye nearly as well as the pots painted with the cheap craft paint. I ended up having to use quite a bit of dye just to get a light color. And even then the color looks splotchy compared to the pink and purple pots.
Step 4: Finish Ombre Dip Dyed Pots
When you are happy with how your ombre dip dyed pots look, set them aside to dry. If there is any excess water hanging around inside the pot it can easily be blotted with a paper towel.
I didn’t add any finishing to my pots because I plan to keep them inside. But if you are planning on using yours outdoors or just want them to be a little more resistant to damage you can add a clear sealant as well.
Here are some close-ups of how each of the pots looked when finished. First up is the pink. I painted this pot with the craft acrylic paint.
Then the purple. This one was also painted with the craft acrylic paint.
And finally the teal. This was the one painted with the spray primer.
Like I mentioned above, the color just didn’t stick nearly as well to the spray primer. I probably could have continued adding dye to get the color a little more how I wanted it, but even by this point I had used quite a bit and didn’t want to waste any more. But that’s how crafting is sometimes.
Additional Notes on Ombre Dip Dyed Pots
Aside from the teal pot, I’m incredibly happy with how these came out. This was just a quick experiment to see if I could make ombre dip dyed pots with materials I already had sitting around. But if I ever decide to make more in the future there’s some variations I could try.
As much as I liked how the spray primer looked before doing the dip dye, it just didn’t work well. But I wonder how other paints would take to the dye. I also wonder if other dyes would work better. Rit also has a Dye More line of dyes meant for fabrics that won’t take to the regular dye. It’s possible that it also may do a better job on the pots as well.
I also wanted to note that these ombre dip dyed pots ended up using quite a bit of dye. I think in the end I used around half a bottle of each color. It wasn’t too big of a deal to me because I had the dyes just collecting dust in my garage. The dye isn’t that expensive, but I think it would be most worth it if you were dyeing multiple pots the same color. That way you get a lot more use out of each bottle.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by and happy crafting!
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