Decorating Abstract Grape Vines on A Planter – How I Did It

Planter Handmade and Painted by Me

I made a large bowl on my pottery wheel and decided it was a good size for a planter.  I cut a hole in the bottom for drainage, then realized it was so big the soil would fall through it.  I cut two strips of clay and with clay slip stuck them to the bottom as a cross. Pottery moves and shrinks during the firing process and can cause cracks.  The strips stressed the base and a crack formed.  It doesn’t go all the way through; therefore, the integrity of the planter is still intact.   Next time I’ll make several smaller holes. The planter will drain better then.

When this planter and the plate it sits on, had dried to bone dry, I decided it needed to be decorated with an abstract grapevine design.

I began by dividing the planter into four sections at north, south, east, and west and put a pencil mark on the rim. Down the outside, at the marks, I put a length of wide blue painter’s masking tape. I measured the halfway point between the tapes on the bowl and added another strip of painter’s tape. I now had 8 strips of tape equally spaced around the planter.

I poured blue and green under-glaze in the centre of two art paint trays. I dipped a sea sponge into the green paint then dabbed off the excess paint onto a paper towel.  I gently dabbed the paint on the bottom 2/3rds of the planter, between the tape.  I cleaned the green paint from my sponge and dipped it in the purple paint. I sponged the purple paint on the top third of the planter and a bit down into the green paint. I wanted it to look like the bottom foliage was growing into the horizon of the purple sky, without a straight line or gap between the colours. Then I removed the painter’s tape and had 8 crisp white stripes around the planter.

The background was finished, and now on to painting the vines and grapes.

I loaded paint into my liner paintbrush and painted a vine up the centre where the masking tape was. This was time-consuming.  Then I remembered I’d purchased a slip-ball trailer, the red ball below. I loaded it with green under-glaze, set the planter on my lap, and slip-trailed the vines on.  I then slip-trailed in the leaves. 

Slip-ball Trailer

I was pleased with the vines and leaves. Now on to the grapes. 

An easy way to paint small circles is to use a Q tip.  I dabbed the Q tip in the purple paint and dabbed clusters of grapes randomly on the vines.  Some of the grapes turned out to be an outline with white in the centre.  I liked this as it gave the grapes highlights.

I painted some of the leaves and grapes into the sponged area, which was hard to see.  To make my grape vines and grapes pop and stand out from the sponged area, I outlined them with black under-glaze. This time I used my liner brush as I wanted a thinner line than I had with the slip-ball trailer.

Fine Liner Paint Brush

I created the same design on the saucer and even the underside of it. The video below gives you a visual on how I decorated this planter.

I bisque-fired them then dipped them in a clear glaze and fired them at a higher temperature to melt the glaze onto the planter.

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My pottery journey, my passion, didn’t start until my 40’s. Creating pottery is my happy place, especially decorating, vases, cups, bowls, trays, and creating sculptures. The more I create, the more my imagination is spurred on. I will be sharing how I make pottery here.

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