It's easy to transform everyday terra-cotta pots into striking garden art.
1. Select leaves that have a distinct shape and that are sturdy enough to stand up to the "concrete paint" you will be coating them with.
2. Mix water, cement, and concrete bonding adhesive. Don rubber gloves. Measure 1 part water, 2 parts Portland cement, 1 part concrete bonding adhesive. Pour water into a large mixing container. Shake in cement and stir. Add the bonding adhesive. Mix the ingredients to the consistency of heavy whipping cream.
3. Paint and press. Using this mixture, paint the ribbed side of your leaf with a 1-inch brush. A light layer works best. It's OK if some areas are spotty. They'll end up looking textured. Press the painted side of the leaf to the pot. The pot should not be wet or damp, or the concrete paint may not adhere.
4. Sponge. Press the leaf against the pot with a damp sponge, wiping away any excess paint that seeps out from behind the leaf. Leave the leaf on for one to two minutes so the concrete paint adheres to the pot. Carefully peel the leaf from the pot to reveal the "sculpture." You can reuse the same leaf to make more prints, use different leaves, or mix and match patterns.
5. Make a sculptural print if desired. The seedpod of a poppy also can be used to make a sculptural print on your pot. Paint the flat head with your concrete mixture. Press the pod to the pot and leave it there for a minute or two. Pull up to reveal its coinlike motif. Leaves can be silhouetted by brushing the concrete paint on the leaf, or just its edges, and overlapping onto the space outside the leaf. Try silhouetting all the way around the rim. If you mess up, you can touch it up or just wipe it clean with your sponge and try again.
6. Allow pot to dry, then paint with colored wash. Let your pot prints dry for five minutes. In the meantime, create a colorful wash by mixing 4 ounces of water with 4 ounces of flat exterior latex house paint and 2 tablespoons of the bonding agent. Paint the pot with the colored wash, wait a minute or so, then wipe the pot in a circular motion with a soft rag. As the pot dries, the concrete-painted areas will appear burnished, as if they are under several layers of patina.