I used to work with plaster pretty frequently, but more recently switched to concrete for projects I would have previously made with plaster. It’s the same exact process and I love the look of concrete, so it made sense. BUT a while back, I got to thinking about how I might be able to add color to plaster for some teeny tiny planters I wanted to make. I did some research online, but couldn’t find a solution anywhere. Probably because the powder consistency of plaster is pretty important to it setting up properly, etc. So it’s not just a matter of tossing in some acrylic paint and calling it a day.
And yes, it’s true that I could just paint them after they’re set, which I’ve done before, but I wanted the color to be a part of the material, not an afterthought. The texture is different, etc, etc. So, after some experimenting, I landed on something that actually works! It will tint plaster nearly any color you want without changing the consistency of the plaster. And now that I’ve figured it out, I… 1) wanted to share it with you, in case you want to try this on your own. And 2) I will be using this technique way more than necessary. Haha.
Click through for the ‘secret ingredient’ that makes this process possible AND my simple tutorial for making tiny pastel planters for cacti and succulents.
- plaster powder (available on Amazon)
- powdered tempera paint – THIS IS THE SECRET INGREDIENT (on Amazon – as a set or individual colors)
- silicone shot glass molds (mine are from Amazon)
- matte medium (to seal the plaster)
- paint brush
- sandpaper (fine grit)
1. Using a 5 to 1 ratio, scoop 5 parts powdered plaster into a medium sized container, and then scoop 1 part powdered tempera into the bowl. Stir together until an even color throughout is achieved. FYI – You could probably use in less powdered tempera than that, to be honest. It really doesn’t take much. The more color you add, the more vibrant it will be, put if you add too much, it will eventually cause the plaster to set incorrectly or not at all.
2. Stir in water to the bowl, while stirring, until you reached a consistency similar to pancake batter (a little thicker than that is still fine though). Plaster sets very quickly, so you’ll need to work fast.
3. Pour mixture into silicone mold or scoop it in with a spoon. Gently tap the filled molds on a flat surface to get out any air bubbles and then aside until hardened (1-2 hours should be fine).
4. Once they are completely hard to the touch, remove the mini planters from the mold one at a time.
5. Use a fine sandpaper to sand down the bottom of each planet, if there is any unevenness. Then let the planters finish air drying for a full 24 hours, if possible.
6. Next, seal each planter with a matte medium, which basically creates a thin layer of plastic so they will no longer be soluble (important if you’re going to put plants in them). Wait for the matte medium to dry completely before planting succulents and cacti. I found that small succulent cuttings are perfect for this size starter planter. And when the plant outgrows the container, you can replant it in a larger version.
Photography Amelia Tatnall
Styling Brittni Mehlhoff
Think you’ll give this mini planter project a try? What do you think of all the pastel colors?