Terra cotta surfaces are interesting for painting projects. With a few household items, a unique and interesting design can be achieved. School-age children and adults can quickly paint a pot for home decor or to place outside as an accessory for the yard. Add sealer, paint and then some varnish to the project. It's quite enjoyable.
Sealing and Painting
Use an all-purpose craft sealer to seal the porous surface of the terra cotta. A flat paint brush will work fine and only one coat of sealer is necessary. There is a specific paint for terra cotta in craft stores, but acrylic paint works just as well and that can also be found in craft stores. If there isn't a craft store nearby, regular latex paint can also be used.
Stripes, Dots, & Shapes
If there's a stencil handy and it makes the painting easier, simply tape it onto the base-coated surface once the paint is dry and stencil the design onto the surface using a stencil brush and a scant amount of paint. Shapes can be achieved by cutting a regular household sponge into the shape of choice. Circles make wonderful flowers and diamond shapes can be used for leaves. Dots can be added with a cotton swab dipped in paint.
Base coat the pot with paint and let it dry. Cut strips of painter's tape and apply them securely to the pot. Paint over the tape for stripes and then peel the tape away or cut the tape into other shapes and apply them to the surface. Paint over the shapes and then peel the tape away. The color underneath will reveal the shape desired. This is fun with diamond, circle or wavy shapes.
When the pot has reached the finish stage, apply a coat or two of varnish, either spray-on or brush-on. Allow the varnish to dry between applications. If the terra cotta is meant for outdoor use, apply an exterior type of varnish to the surface.