DIY Sponge Painting Technique

Easy Terra Cotta Garden Art Craft Project

Sponge Painting Is A Simple Decorative Paint Technique You Can Use To Transform An Ordinary Garden Art Object Into Something Uniquely Yours

This painted finish is accomplished by applying one or more layers of color onto your terra cotta or plastic garden art object. For our purposes, this painting technique is very similar to the Daubing Technique. But as the name implies, you use a sponge for the application of the paint.

Sponge painting terra cotta (or plastic) is very simple, no matter how many colors you decide to apply. This technique will give you great results. By sponging on one or more colors, you can achieve a layered look; a more blended finish if you keep adding each color over the other for more subtle coloration; or a speckled effect, using a much lighter, much darker or a metallic color.

Grab A Sea Sponge

Sea Sponges for Sponge Painting

Sea sponges are what you want to use and are available in fine, medium or coarse textures. They can be purchased at art, craft or even in the paint department of most home improvement stores. The irregular shape and surface of the sponge is what creates the finished effect of this technique.

I use household sponges for many of my garden art projects with very satisfactory results if a very fine texture is all I want.

Keep in mind that the texture of the sponge is primarily what will dictate the “look” of your finished painted object. Other factors include how much pressure you use to blot the paint onto your object (the more pressure, the more you’re “squishing” down the texture of the sponge’s surface) and how you apply the paint – for instance if you give the sponge a little twist with each application.

Don’t push down so hard on the sponge that you can’t see the sponge’s texture in the painted surface. Now you’re basically daubing on the paint … which is fine if you don’t care about seeing the subtle texture of the sponge.

Tips for DIY Sponge Painting Projects

These Are Some of The Things I’ve Learned Along The Way …

Sponging Basics

  • I use acrylic craft paints for painting almost all of my terra cotta, resin or plastic garden art projects.
  • Use a natural sea sponge for best textural effect, not a synthetic sponge (as discussed above).
  • I dampen the sponge with water before using. I normally don’t use a dry sponge.
  • Dip your sponge into the paint — do not overload. Blot off excess paint on a piece of newspaper, paper towel, cardboard, etc.
  • Rinse the sponge as needed to prevent it from getting “clogged” with paint.

Decorative Paint Technique Coloration Tips

  • For more color contrast: use a light color for the base coat and darker color(s)for the top coat. Or vice versa.
  • For more subtle coloration: choose a base and top color(s) which are closer in intensity and tone to each other.
  • For extra depth: use several tones of the same color.
  • Experiment on a sample board to make sure your color combinations are really what you are expecting them to look like once they’re dry.

Sponge Painting Project Steps

Painting Terra Cotta or Other Materials Is Really Quite Easy

The Variations Are Unlimited Depending On: The Color You Select For Your Base Coat; The Number Of Top-Coat Colors You Use; And How Lightly Or Heavily You Apply The Paints.

Sponge Painting Project Steps:

  1. Pour a small amount of your color onto your tray or plate.
  2. Apply the base coat to your garden art object. **You can brush on this coat if you desire. I wait until this coat is almost dry or totally dry before applying other colors.
  3. With dampened sponge, dab on your top color, repeatedly changing the position of the sponge by turning and twisting your hand between dabs to vary the pattern. Apply as little or as much of this color to achieve the effect you desire.
  4. When using more than one top color, sponge the entire surface with the first color, then proceed with the second and/or third colors. Remember that the color you want to show most should be the last color used.
  5. Note: I apply my paint colors to the inside of planters. I sponge at least 3-inches down from the lip. It’s much more attractive to see the decorative paint technique carried over to the inside.

That’s about as complicated as sponging can get. You can see how sponge painting can easily turn any ordinary store-bought object into something that is totally unique.

Experiment with color combinations. That’s what I do. Remember — you can always start over any project by covering your “mistake” with a new base coat.

Final Sponge Painting Step:

Let your item dry thoroughly. I give it a day or two. Then, apply at least 2-coats of a clear acrylic or urethane finish. I use a spray paint for this step. I’ll let the clear coats dry another couple of days.

Enjoy Yourself … And Have Fun!

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