Faux Pottery Vessels

by Thea
4 Materials
2 Days

Here’s a way to fake rough pottery, handles and all, no clay or kiln involved.

Almost like this, only weirder and browner

Do you recognize the pot above? Its only taken me 35 years but I finally ‘get’ West German or fat lava pottery. In case you don’t know what that is, you probably know it as the browny, ‘drippy’ vases and lamp stands that your mom or gran had in the 60’s and 70’s.

Guess what, it’s back in fashion and you see it all over decor magazines. As for myself, seeing the pottery in a contemporary context made me realize how cool it actually is. So, jumping on the crackfiller-texture bandwagon, here is my experiment with 21st century ‘fat lava’ pottery in a non-pottery way.

Get some bottle boxes and hair curlers

I started with an assortment of boxes and tins; a chips tin, plastic hot chocolate bottle and two scotch gift containers, one tin and one cardboard. I mention this because the rigidity of the base is important. Most of my effort was extended towards ensuring that everything was as rigid as could be otherwise the crack filler cracks.

I also used foam hair rollers as pictured below, two sizes, medium and medium small. I also used the following:

  • interior crack filler
  • wood glue
  • spray paint
  • super glue such as Q-bond, instantly setting
  • hot glue
  • scissors
  • pliers or bolt cutters
  • disposable dish and stirrer
  • gloves
  • tray
  • medium and smaller paintbrushes

The curlers are particularly useful to those of us who never learnt to roll evenly-shaped clay snakes in kindergarten.

Make the handle shapes

I cut the curlers in half by cutting through the foam with scissors and then with pliers to get through the wire. The ends have plastic stoppers attached with a loop. Once cut, the wire slides out and the stoppers can be removed. Slide the wire back into the foam and make sure it doesn’t stick out.

Take out the stoppers

I was left with relatively uniform shapes, better than I would have rolled in clay.

Next, bend all the foam bits around something to form handles, I used a hairbrush. Don't make your bends too sharp because it increases the chances of the foam expanding back at a later stage and causing cracks.

I was left with bent foam handles.

Glue the handles to the containers

Using the glue gun, I stuck the handles to the containers. You will notice that the joins don't look very tidy because I went beyond the edges of the foam. My idea was to make the connections as rigid as possible as this is the most likely place for it to crack once painted. I also added some instantly drying superglue because some of the hot glue attachments came loose, particularly on the tin. To tidy the joins you could add a ridge of hot glue. With one container, instead of making handles, I just wrapped a whole hair roller without stoppers around the tin and secured it with a combination of superglue and hot glue.

Once all the bits were stuck, I left everything for a good couple of hours to see that nothing sprung loose or bounced back.

Make a rim

To make the containers look a bit more substantial, I took out the wire of two slightly smaller curlers and cut a slit on the horizontal halfway into them (see below). In other words, I made a horseshoe. I joined the two with superglue to make one long worm with the slits aligned. At this stage the worm was still much longer than needed for the circumference of the tin but would be trimmed at a later stage.

I ran the foam over the rim as is pictured above. This pink one is too short to cover the entire circumference, which is why you need to join the two rollers before you place them.

Cut and stick the rim covering

Note that the final cut is on the diagonal. Rather start by making the piece too long and then trimming a bit more than cutting too much at the outset and then being left with a gap. Also, the foam can squish in a bit to make the join cleaner. Use extra hot glue inside the tunnel on the rim and superglue on the more visible parts.

Slap on the crack filler

I mixed a cup of Polyfilla Interior crack filler with about 1/3 cup of water (maybe a bit more), stirred to get the lumps out and then added 1/3 cup of wood glue. Everyone has their own recipe for this and I believe the wood glue makes the concoction stick better. I had problems with lumps possibly because I added more crack filler to the mix, almost like sprinkling extra cornflour to a white sauce. That's my theory anyway. After stirring and squishing lumps like mad I gave up and just went with it.

Cover the vessel and paint

I slapped on a layer of the mix, covering all the nooks and crannies. I was not precious about it at all but I'm sure someone will want to be more meticulous about this. Be sure to paint the top inside as well otherwise it will still look like a Pringles chip tin. I then left it to dry overnight. The next day I fixed all the cracks, touched up here and there and left it to dry again.

You will notice that the mixture isn't always thick and that you can still see the pink foam in parts. I argued that as long as there was a layer for the paint to adhere to it would be fine. I then spray painted the pots with various chalk paints and red oxide primer.

I just love the colours and am quite surprised that something so childlike can look so chique in the right context.

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  2 questions
  • Michelle Michelle on Aug 29, 2021

    Are these utilitarian? I’ve never seen anything like this before.

  • BarbT14 BarbT14 on Aug 30, 2022

    Clever copy cat! I've not used that product. Could you apply a fake gloss to mimic the sheen?

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4 of 17 comments
  • Lisa West Lisa West on Sep 05, 2021

    They look pretty cool. Love the way you describe how you put them together. Made me laugh. Thank you. Been I. A pretty crappy mood. Woke up with severe lower back pain and the weather is rainy. Like we didn't get enough rain here in New Jersey from tropical storm Ida the other day.

    • Thea Thea on Sep 05, 2021

      Shame, back pain is awful! I’m glad I could cheer you up.

  • Cindie Cindie on Aug 30, 2022

    WOW!! These are simply adorable! They have a very unique look which is what everybody wants. Everything is so uniform anymore. I love the retro look. I think I would add some gold and silver leaf to them for that retro look. Those are really so cute.

    • Thea Thea on Aug 30, 2022

      Thank you, they stand in the lounge and nobody ever guesses they are home made. I agree about everything looking the same.🤦‍♀️