Learn How to Make DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries


Learn how to make terra cotta pot luminaries using terra cotta pots and a rotary tool. Add a little bit of spray paint and you have some customized terra cotta pot luminaries!

Let’s learn how to make terra cotta pot luminaries!

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Hello, Ideas for the Home by Kenarry® friends! I’m Pam from The Birch Cottage and I’m back again this month to share with you how to make terra cotta pot luminaries. This is a fairly easy and very inexpensive do-it-yourself project that I think will be perfect for your patio, outdoor space or even as décor at a wedding reception.

Last year about this time, I shared with you how to paint terra cotta pots. I loved this project and a lot of you did, too! It really is an inexpensive way to brighten up ordinary terra cotta pots. I still use mine for herbs and succulents and continue to paint terra cotta pots for use in my home. As I was planning what to share with you this month, my mind kept going back to those terra cotta pots.

Then I wondered if it was possible to carve or engrave decorative designs on the pot. Guess what? It’s possible! Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and took this concept a little further. So, if I can engrave decorative designs on the pots, can I actually carve designs all the way through the pots without them cracking or falling apart? I’m sure you can probably imagine how delighted I was to find this conceptual idea to be a doable DIY project!

I actually did some searching online and really didn’t find a whole lot of information. I’m not sure if that means people aren’t interested in this type of project or if it’s really something not many people have tried. In any case, I thought it turned out just lovely and I’m pretty excited about sharing this DIY project with you today! Let’s get started making our terra cotta pot luminaries, shall we?

How to Make Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links for products or services we think you’ll like. This means if you make a purchase from one of these links, we’ll make a small commission at no additional cost to you so we can keep the great ideas for the home coming your way. All opinions expressed are our own, derived from our personal experience.


How to Cut Holes in Terra Cotta Pots Video Tutorial

Here’s a little video that will help illustrate how to make this terra cotta pot luminary. You’ll also see me using two different rotary tools to cut holes in terra cotta pots. I started out using my little rotary tool but it was just taking too long so I switched over to my larger more powerful rotary tool.

Step 1: Clean the Terra Cotta Pots

First, you’ll start with your terra cotta pots and saucers. Before you begin, you’ll want to dust off the pots with a microfiber cloth to remove any dust or dirt. If you get the pots wet, you’ll want to wait at least 24-48 hours before painting your pots. Terra cotta is very porous and you need the pots nice and dry before painting.

Step 2: Draw Design on Terra Cotta Pots

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Next, simply use your pencil to draw your design on the side of your terra cotta pots. You can, of course, use permanent marker, but I found the pencil to work extremely well.

Step 3: Carve Design on Terra Cotta Pots

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Now that you have your design drawn on the side of your terra cotta pot, you’ll simply use your rotary tool to carve out the design following your outline. I found when using the carbide blade, that it helped to move the blade in sort of a circular motion. You’ll also use more of the side of the blade instead of the point. Be careful and keep your fingers away from the blade. Once you break through the pot with the blade at your starting point, you’ll sort of push the blade along the outline to cut out or carve your design.

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

You can put the pot in a vice to hold it in place, but I found simply holding it in my hand gave me better control. You can also smooth off any rough spots using sand paper, but I found as I practiced using the rotary cutter, that I was able to smooth the edges enough that I didn’t need to use the sand paper.

Step 4: Apply Spray Paint

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Before you spray paint your pot and saucer, wipe off any dust with your microfiber cloth. You’ll use two or three light coats of spray paint to obtain a nice even coverage. I painted the inside first and then placed the pot on a stick so I could paint the outside. Be sure to spray paint the saucer as well, if you’re using one.

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Step 5: Insert Sand and Candle

You can finish off your terra cotta pot luminaries by placing a small amount of sand in the bottom and then place your candle on top of the sand. The sand is totally optional. I used battery operated candles in my luminaries, but you can definitely use regular votive candles.

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

I did discover while working with the terra cotta that it’s quite messy – as in very dusty. To help cut down on the amount of dust, you can soak the pots in water for 20 minutes, then let dry. Although I found this to cut down slightly on the amount of dust, I really didn’t think it made that much difference. And since I knew I would be doing this project outdoors, the amount of dust was really irrelevant.

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

So, there you have your very own, do-it-yourself, handmade terra cotta pot luminary! I plan on using my luminaries on our enclosed front porch and on our back patio. There are so many uses for these luminaries. I think they’d probably even make nice little night lights if you use the battery operated candles, of course! And wouldn’t they be charming at an outdoor wedding or as part of the table decor at a rustic reception? You could even use citronella candles to help keep the pesky mosquitoes away this summer.

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Luminaries by The Birch Cottage

Well, I’ve certainly enjoyed our little time together this month! If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial on how to make terra cotta pot luminaries, you might like to browse some of these other DIY projects from The Birch Cottage blog that I’ve shared here on Kenarry, like this succulent planter from repurposed china dishes or these pumpkin candy dishes from terra cotta pots! And, be sure to check out some of my other projects on The Birch Cottage blog:

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Ideas

Six easy Terra Cotta projects from The Birch Cottage

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

I hope you get a chance to give this DIY terra cotta luminaries project a try. If you do, I’d love to hear about it! Just leave a comment below or tag #ideasforthehome in social media so we’ll be sure to see your post.

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