Terra Cotta Pot People

DIY Garden Art Craft Project Using New or Old Terra Cotta or Clay Pots

Human Sized, Child Sized, Even Crafted Into A Whimsical Animal Shape … This Garden Art Crafts Project Is Fun For All Ages

Terra Cotta Pot Man Project

I’m going to walk you through a very popular terra cotta pot crafts project — how to make “Pot People”. These garden art decorations can be as small or as large as your imagination and garden space allows. Use smaller pots for a child-size figure; larger pots for adult-sized figures. You can even make “Pot Animals”.

The great thing about this terra cotta pot crafts project is that you don’t necessarily have to use brand new pots. Use the slightly damaged ones you have laying around. You’ll be able to position a cracked or missing portion out of sight. It’s okay if your pots are a bit dirty because your pot-person will be exposed to the elements and after time, will get a weathered look anyway.

Terra Cotta Pot Dog

You’ll more than likely want to “soften” the appearance of your finished pot-person. After all, a bunch of strung together pots isn’t going to be that interesting, as illustrated by the pot-dog to the right. Push dry sphagnum moss, real moss or low-growing, creeping type plants into the spaces on the arms and legs. Make sure the plants you choose are suited to the location of your pot figure, i.e. sunny or shady location.

Attach the terra cotta pot used for the head with the planting hole upwards. This way you can plant something interesting to resemble hair. Or you may just want to place a hat on the pot-person’s head, tilted down over it’s “face”, making it look like it’s taking a nap.  🙂

Terra Cotta Pot Person Arm

How about a pair of gloves to help simulate hands? A pair of boots on your figure’s “feet”? You could even paint the pots to simulate clothing. Or buy glazed pots for this purpose.

Basic Guidelines How to Build the Arms and Legs

You’ll want to string together each arm and leg separately. Use sturdy non-rotting rope (such as nylon) that is heavy enough gauge to easily work with. Plus it does need to withstand years in the outdoor elements. Don’t you want your creation to last more than a year or two?

To be on the safe side, I would allow at least triple the amount of rope for each arm and leg. Not only do you have to tie knots for each pot you use, but you also need extra left over to attach to the torso. Rope is cheap … don’t be skimpy!

You need to keep a little bit of space between each pot as you build the arms and legs. This can be accomplished by either:

  • Using rope that is thick enough so when you tie a knot, it won’t slip through the drainage hole; or
  • Using a piece of stick, a large washer or similar object that you can tie a knot around. The object will act as a “stopper” and not slip through the drainage hole.

Determine the spacing you want between each pot. Add a knot as you thread on each consecutive pot.

**TIP: After you’ve got the first pot strung, slip the cord up through the 2nd one. Decide the space you want between the pots. MARK (with a felt pen or similar) the cord where it comes out from the TOP of the second pot. Remove 2nd pot from cord. Now you can tie a knot where you marked the cord and slip the pot back on. If you like the spacing, measure where the knot is tied and proceed for the rest of the arms and legs.

Attaching The Body Parts Together

Joining All The Parts Takes A Bit of Dexterity

Torso and Head

Making the torso is relatively easy. Refer to the illustration below. The upper and lower sections are two pots. You’ll need to tie knots and/or objects (as previously mentioned) on your rope to keep these two pots held firmly against each other.

Now, you’ve got to attach the head pot. If you’re going to have it planted, make sure you do a good job of anchoring it to the torso. You may also have to use wire with “stoppers” coming through the top-most drainage hole of the torso, into the drainage hole of the head for additional stability. You don’t want the head to flop over once it’s planted.

Attaching the Arms and Legs to the Torso

This is where you need to get a little creative. Depending on the position of your pot-person, you’ll have to experiment a bit to get each arm and leg tied off to the rope running up the middle of the torso.

As you can see by the illustration below, you’ll be able to tie-off the arm ropes between the torso and head pots.

You’ve got two options to attach the legs to the torso:

Anchoring each leg separately from the torso: you might very well be able to anchor each leg to the surface upon which your figure is seated. You’ve got a length of rope coming out of each leg’s top pot. Use this to attach to the surface your figure is sitting on. (Nail it down, tie it down, etc.) You should be able to easily hide it and make each leg appear as if it’s coming right out from the torso. Just make sure each leg is placed close enough to the torso.

Attaching directly to the torso pots: you can drill a hole into each side of the lower torso pot to be able to pass each end of a leg’s rope through and tie off together inside the pot (as shown in diagram below). **Yes… this takes a little extra care to do successfully. You’ve got to use a masonry bit on your drill and proceed slowly when drilling the holes so as not to break the pot!

Don’t push too hard, rushing to get the hole made! You’ll need to put a piece of wood against the inside of the pot to allow you to push against the outside with the drill. Yes, I know … the piece of wood will be need to be rounded a bit to conform to the inside of the pot. Maybe an old wooden broom handle can help you in this situation. Patience … and a little ingenuity is needed for this step.

Materials List

Add An Outfit To Put Some Whimsicality and Pizzaz Into Your Pot Person

Pot Person Construction Detail

Terra cotta pots required to construct a small pot-person:
 (1)  6″ or 8″ pot for head
 (2)  8″ pots for torso
(12)  3″ or 4″ pots for arms
(16)  4″ pots for legs

Terra cotta pots required to construct a large pot-person:
 (1)  8″ pot for head
 (2)  10″ pots for torso
(12)  4″ pots for arms
(16)  6″ pots for legs

As desired: Dry sphagnum moss, real moss, or low growing creeping-type plants to fill in the spaces between arms, legs and torso. A plant to be used to simulate hair. A pair of shoes or rubber boots? Some gloves? Maybe a bandana or clothing?

Pot Man Body

As with most creative projects, this terra cotta pot crafts project for making whimsical pot-people has lots of room for your own interpretation. Notice in the photograph at the beginning of the article how the pot that joins the arms and legs to the torso is positioned differently from the teaching example I’ve detailed for you in this article. Or, in this photo right above, you’ll see a different way to position the arms and legs.


  1. Thank you so very much for telling us how to put a “pot person” together. I had seen a picture years ago in a magazine but didn’t have the slightest idea on putting it altogether. Is there a similar website that might teach animals. I’ll try searching for one.
    Your new website is great – you should be very proud of yourself!!

  2. an easy way to drill holes in your pot is to plug the drain hole put water in it up to just above where you want to drill then freeze the pot. Use the masonry bit and go slow. The ice will let you drill without the pottery collapsing

  3. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi Anita: I’ve not come across the “freezing” method before. Sounds a bit “ify” as far as the outcome, as I would worry that with frozen water in the pot you might increase the chance to crack the entire pot while drilling, but if you’ve done it with success before, then thanks for sharing. Taping the area (like with duct tape) you want to drill, turning the pot upside down and placing over a wide piece of wood that will support the inside of the pot’s bottom and will allow you to push with gentle pressure as you’re drilling and of course using a masonry bit has proved successful for many. (Hope my “upside down pot over a piece of wood” explanation makes sense!)

  4. I have drilled a lot of terra-cotta pots and planters. Freezing makes them more brittle and they tend to flake off. I just place the pot into water for and hour or so before I want to drill. I use a masonry bit and just go slow. It is best to have some wood underneath where you a pushing the drill through. If I am drilling a glazed pot or planter or coffee mug, I always use a piece of duct or black electrical tape on the place the drill will come through and go into. Be patient and don’t rush it. Let the drill bit do the work.

  5. Claudia Brownlie says:

    TY so much for sharing your experience. All the best with your garden art projects! 🙂

  6. Glenda Schulte says:

    I would love to make a pot person. One thing I would like to know, though, I have seen shoes on some of them. Where do I find shoes like that and how are they attached to the “feet”? Thank you, Glenda Schulte

  7. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi Glenda: Sorry, but you are too vague with your question, as I can’t guess what type of shoes you are referring to. I’ve seem photos of lots of different styles of shoes put on pot-people. So, I can’t help you on where to find “shoes like that.”

    But I will help you by saying just use your creative abilities and imagination! Use whatever little shoes you find that are to your liking; then I am sure using wire or string or cording to tie them on would work. There are times where I don’t have a clue about how to do something when I’m tackling a new project; this is where trial and error often comes into play for me! I just sit there and try to figure it out! And I’m sure you will be able to figure out how to attach little shoes, too. Good luck! 🙂

  8. Glenda Schulte says:

    Ok, thank you, Claudia. I’m sure I can think of something.

  9. can you tell me how to make the pot puppy? He is so cool. thanks!

  10. Hi….can you tell me how to make a pot puppy?

  11. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Jane: The Search-box on my site is an easy way for anyone to first check if the info they’re looking for might already be on my site, such as this article giving you the information I am able to share on making a pot dog / pot puppy that you’ve asked about: http://www.artistic-garden.com/terracotta-clay-pot-dog/

  12. linda eckert says:

    do you have a video for the cute people with clothes on


  13. Thank you very much…..!!!!!

  14. Claudia Brownlie says:

    No, I don’t have a video on making pot people.

  15. Love the pot people. Can you tell me what is the best kind of paint to use, and where is the best place to get it.

  16. Claudia Brownlie says:

    I discuss the type of paints to use on terra cotta pots here on my site – please use the Search Box to find the pages pertaining to that subject.

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