The Root

One gardener’s quest to get to the bottom of it all.

Amateur Alchemy: Copper Planters from Plastic April 19, 2008

This how-to starts with a big, fat, dissuasive caveat: After painting your plastic planters with care, spending hours–days!–coaxing them into metallic “Antique Copper,” and even after coating them with poisonous, life-altering fixative, the paint’s just going to scratch off. All it will take is a moderate fingernail. (I will update this once the boxes have been rained on.)

But, I mean, they look good from here. And, no matter how faulty, I prefer faux-copper window boxes to gray plastic ones any day. Perhaps next time I will try sanding the plastic first, perhaps priming it thereafter, or maybe just starting with cheap wood. If you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s what to do:

1. Start with a black window box; if starting from a light color, paint it black first. The undercoat doesn’t have to be great; in fact, a little uneven tone will improve the aged-copper effect. Allow to dry.

2. Using a cloth, rub on antique copper hobby paint. Really rub it in. Think, “Burnish!” Allow to dry.

3. Make a very watery mix of black and antique copper paints. Flick onto planters (I used an old toothbrush).

4. Spray with fixative. If there is a less toxic option than aerosol Krylon spray, I would really love to hear about it.

After a sub-standard mounting job, the backsides are all scratched to Hell, but they really look nice from certain angles, and I’m still proud.

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3 Responses to “Amateur Alchemy: Copper Planters from Plastic”

  1. nancybond Says:

    Wow, they look fantastic! Well done! (Can you imagine what *real* antique copper planters would cost?!!)

  2. concretegardening Says:

    Great job! I’m dreading buying plastic pots for the roofgarden, but terracotta will just dry out in four hours, and the other alternatives… well let’s just say I’m not made of money! Let me know what happens after a rain! They look great by the way.

  3. cake Says:

    i have some water based clear coat that doesn’t smell too toxic. i’ll look up the brand. but it is not spray on, you use a brush. i have been very happy with it.


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