A Decorative Paint Finish To Revive A 100-Year Old Jug

A Reader Asks For Ideas To Repaint
A Very Old Water Jug

I received an email from Yogesh, asking for help with trying his hand at applying a decorative paint technique of some sort to a 100-year old pot he really wanted to repaint. That first email didn’t have enough information for me to properly answer him, so I asked him to email me again with more exacting information.

Here’s his reply to me:

Thank you very much for your offer to help me.

Please find attached pics of the pot I was talking about. This pot is around 100 years old, we used to keep water in this, but now I want to keep it in my hall as a show piece.

It was leaking so my mom had applied cement, which you can see in the pic, too. I want to paint it in coffee/dark brown color, but if you can suggest something great I would appreciate it.

Do also let me know which country are you located in? I am from India.

Kindly suggest what best [sic] can be done on this pot? Looking forward to your reply.

Regards, Yogesh

My reply:

Hello Yogesh:
First, I live in Tennessee, in the USA. Nice to know my website is visited by people from other countries. 🙂

This is the old water jug Yogesh wants to repaint. About what decorative paint technique you could apply to this pot … after reviewing the photos you sent (thank you) this is my suggestion on how to try and bring it back to a more eye-appealing object:

1) Scrape off/sand off/wash off any dirt, loose paint, or loose cement on the pot. If it has any dirt, or grime, or possible greasy residue on the outside surface you must remove it, as the new layers of paint need a clean surface to adhere to. If you wash your pot with water and soap, please make sure it is 100% dry before you proceed. Water might absorb into the pot, especially in the spots that have cement, so give it a few days at least to dry.

2) For a 2-tone coffee/dark brown coloration – that decorative paint technique is not at all hard to do. I will suggest choosing 3 shades of coffee/dark brown colors … light, medium and dark shades. I will assume in India you have stores that sell either “craft paint”, or if those are not available, then you can use paint used for painting inside walls in houses – “latex paints”. Latex paint cleans up with soap and water, which is much easier than using oil-based enamel paints. However, you can also use oil-based enamels.

3) I advise that you use either of these decorative techniques to apply the paints: the daubing technique or sponge technique. Easy to do and either can provide a very nice, antique looking result. My website provides the information on this page Daubing Decorative Paint Technique and this page Sponge Painting Technique.

**Make sure you paint a good base coat of paint onto your pot before you begin to apply the other colors (again … follow the directions in my instructions).

4) PRACTICE FIRST on something other than your pot to make sure you like the colors you chose, and to get the knack of how to daub or sponge on the paint to get the “look” you want after the paint dries. I practice on large pieces of cardboard that I brush on a neutral color paint on first, so that my paint colors show truer than if I painted them onto plain brown cardboard. You may find that you need to use more of one color and less of another; you may decide you don’t like the colors you chose; you may find the way you apply the paints doesn’t look realistic enough … or you may LOVE your first test and know you can proceed to do the same technique onto your pot.

5) After the painted colors have dried, apply at least 2 coats of clear sealant. There are matte, semi-gloss and gloss finishes available. It’s up to you how “dull” or shiny looking you want your pot to be.

That’s about it.

The biggest factors in being successful in making any decorative faux finish look attractive and/or “real” is going to be correct color combination choices AND your SKILL LEVEL or artistic ability in order to apply a convincing painted finish to the pot. These two issues I cannot help you with. 😉

I hope this information helps and I am sure that if you take your time, practice some, experiment with applying the paints in different ways to finally achieve the “look” you want, that your very interesting old jug will take on a whole new life!

Best of luck with your project Yogesh, and do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you have more decorative paint technique or faux finish questions or “how to” concerns.


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