How to spray paint ceramic. This is one of the easiest thrift store transformations ever. All you need is a white pitcher and spray paint.

how to paint ceramic

Does anyone know what happened to the semi-colon?

You know.

The punctuation mark that looks like this    ;

It’s one of my favorite punctuation marks on the planet. It’s not the STOP of the period. Or the barely imperceptible blip of the comma. Instead? It’s like you are telling your sentence to wait a minute. To press pause. To hold on for just a second.

Because good things are just around the corner.

It used to be everywhere. You could see it hanging out with however and joining two independent clauses together and making the world a generally better punctuation place. But now? Everyone is in too much of a hurry to use an Oxford comma, let alone a semi-colon.

Or for that matter—punctuation altogether.

And so today. Here on Thistlewood, we are celebrating the semi-colon in all its glory with a thrift store transformation. It’s the kind of project that makes you do a double take. It makes you press pause. It makes you think. It makes you smile.

Because a good DIY project is just around the corner.

Here’s how to spray paint ceramic.

how to paint ceramic from thrift store finds

Here’s where we started.

These are the pitchers that I found at the thrift store.

The grand total for the two pitchers? $2.50.

The thrift store was having a half-price sale on everything Easter. I guess they didn’t want this pitcher hanging around until next year.

I had been looking for some pitchers for the bathroom and I couldn’t find any that were reasonably affordable and the right size. And then? I discovered these pitchers at the thrift store.

Price? Check.

Size? Check.

Bathroom counter compatibility? Check.

Bunny? Umm. Not so much.

how to paint ceramic using finds from the thrift store

I stood in the thrift store holding the bunny pitcher wondering if you could paint ceramic?

Was it even possible?

Was it a thing?

So I googled it and found this article.

For $2.50 I thought I could take a chance and the pitchers came home with me to see if spray painting actually worked.

Did it?

how to paint ceramic pitchers

Yes, yes it did.

CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THOSE ARE THE SAME PITCHERS?

Let’s take a look at the before one more time.

From this.

And the best part?

It was so easy.

Here’s are my best tips and hints and information on how to spray paint a thrift store pitcher.

What type of prep work do you need to do before you spray paint ceramic?

Before you spray paint ceramic of any kind, you want to make sure the pieces are cleaned thoroughly. You can run them through the dishwasher to make sure all the dirt and grime is off the surface before you paint. You don’t want to paint years of someone else’s grime (or your own) into a pitcher. I used Dawn dish detergent and a scrub brush to get rid of all the dirt inside and out. Also, check for stickers or anything sticky on the surface and make sure to remove that before you spray it. I scrubbed off the thrift store stickers; however, you could also use a sticker remover like Goo Gone to make sure you have a smooth surface.

Do you need to prime your pieces before spray painting?

I prime everything, so I primed the pitchers before I painted them. Here’s my best priming tip. Choose a good quality primer and then spray SUPER light coats on the piece. It’s so hard when you are spray painting because you want to be in a hurry; however, if you rush you will regret it. Stand about three feet away from your piece (too close and you will get drips) and wave the primer back and forth in an even coat. Let that coat dry thoroughly before adding the next coat.

What type of spray paint works best when painting ceramics?

Choose a spray paint specifically designed to cover ceramics. The instructions will list it as one of the surfaces the paint covers. Most spray paint comes in high gloss, semi-gloss, satin and flat. I was tempted to go with the high gloss to mimic the look of ceramic. Don’t. Learn from my mistakes. When I tried the high gloss, it highlighted any imperfections in the ceramic and didn’t look real. Sometimes on your design, you might have a raised image; however you try and spray the gloss will highlight that. Instead? Choose a semi-gloss or a satin. These pitchers in these pictures were painted with semi-gloss.

How can you prevent drips when you are spray painting?

Drips. YIKES. There is nothing worse than spray painting something and you see a drip. The best thing to do is prevent drips before they start. The two causes of drips are spraying too close to the piece and spray painting when the weather isn’t optimal. You want to stand back about three feet and spray paint the piece in LIGHT even coats. Light coats are your friend. Too much spray paint in one area will cause a drip. You want to spray paint between 50 and 90 degrees to make sure your paint adheres properly. Do NOT spray paint in humid weather or direct sunlight. It can affect how the paint dries and it causes glumps. If you do get a paint drip my best tip is to blot it with a q-tip. I keep a stack of q-tips when I’m spray painting and if I see a drip, I blot it and wipe it smooth and then let the paint settle. Don’t paint a second coat until it’s dry.

(total aside: is glumping even a spray paint term?)

How long was your drying time?

I like to have at least three to four hours between coats. Truth? Sometimes I forget about the project and spray paint another coat the next day; you just want to make sure that your first coat is dry before you re-apply another coat of spray paint.

How did you paint the bottom of the pitchers?

I use a paper towel holder for projects like this. I start by painting the bottom of the pitcher. I put it on the paper towel holder upside down so the bottom of the pitcher is easier to paint. I applied the primer first and then the paint, letting each coat dry. Once the bottom of the pitcher was dry, I flipped it right side up and painted the rest. When working on a project like this, I try to choose pitchers that don’t need the inside painted. It can get a little tricky trying to spray paint inside the pitcher. I only painted the outside of the pitchers you see in this post.

This was one of the easiest thrift store transformations ever.

Truly.

It makes you look at everything with new decorating eyes.

You probably have something around your house right now that needs spray painting.

And remember the semi-colon when you do.

The perfect punction mark.

It’s not overwhelming like the STOP of the period. Or flippant like the barely imperceptible blip of the comma. Or the hardness of the colon. It’s so much more. It’s like you are telling your sentence to wait a minute.

To press pause.

To hold on for just a second.

Because good things (and good projects) are just around the corner.

Comments

  1. Image for Jeanette Jeanette

    Thank you for the inspiration and the tips! Sometimes I just need to hear that someone else has succeeded at something like this before I really want to give it a try myself.

  2. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Cute! I'm getting ready to paint some plastic planters - they are over 20 years old but still in good shape, but the terra-cotta color is a tad faded! LOL! They're going to be a lovely semi-gloss black and look amazing on my upcoming front-porch-spruce-up!! Thanks for the tip on primer - I need to pick some up! Happy Wednesday, Friend!

  3. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Great idea! I’ve forgotten about the semi colon...but I use it daily ;) . Guess I just found another use for it! ;)

  4. Image for DeMarie Ingraham DeMarie Ingraham

    Thank you for this tutorial. They look amazing. And, yes, glumping is certainly in my dictionary right along with bazillion.

  5. Image for Denise V Cox Denise V Cox

    Thanks, KariAnne. Would this apply to painting those " pottery" type pots you find in garden centers? I was thinking about painting some that I had, but didn't know if I could... 🤔

  6. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    I spray painted 2 pitchers yesterday afternoon! Unfortunately, was too close to the first one and the paint ran. I'm going to try a light sanding to see if I can get just the drips. Hopefully, that will work. I like semicolons, too! :)

  7. Image for JC at the uncommon pearl JC at the uncommon pearl

    ....and only you know they aren't Ironstone...well, and us too, but we won't tell.😉 Spray paint can work wonders! So lovely!

  8. Image for Terri Terri

    It would be handy to know the brand/type of “good quality primer” and spray paint for ceramic that you used yourself if you would be so kind...saves guesswork and research time😊

  9. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    You are brilliant!! I had absolutely no idea ceramic could be spray painted. Your painted pieces look GREAT in that cute bathroom. Love me semi-colons. With ya on that one fo sho. You never fail to make me smile, KA. Thanks for the awesome inspiration. You are soooo right - I won't look at icky dated ceramic pieces the same in secondhand stores the same ever again.

  10. Image for TERESA GONZALES TERESA GONZALES

    LOVE IT!!! Going to head to thrift shop and see what I can find!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Image for Kelly Kelly

    I love seeing these ideas because when I look at an item I don't always think "hey I can paint that!" And I love to paint!! The pitchers look great.

  12. Image for Heather Anne Heather Anne

    I woke up this morning with plans for both spray painting and using colons and semi-colons! Alas the wind is too gusty for painting and my brain too musty for writing! Love your sweet little pitchers!

  13. Image for Jenn Jenn

    I love this! I spray paint everything. I am not a primer type of person, I am too impatient, but you have encouraged me to try it! The paper towel holder is brilliant! Great tips!

  14. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I have worked for many years as a high school guidance counselor and have seen young people with a semicolon tattoo. Semicolons are now often associated with suicide prevention. Project Semicolon aims to “present hope and love to those struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.” so is a great resource for information for our young ones. It is. as a semicolon is in a sentence, it is telling yourself to wait a minute. To press pause. To hold on for just a second

    1. Image for Julie Julie

      Thanks Debbie for sharing about the semicolon tattoo as I was not aware of such. A friend of mine's nephew recently took his life with no note left behind. The parents are besides themselves re why their 21 year old son, attending college, would do this......I wish I could save all of the people who think of taking their lives and yet you hope, in your own way, you help them by encouragement, smile, hug and more so letting them know they are not alone as much as they may think they are and that can make all the difference..........

  15. Image for Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap

    To be honest there isn't a whole lot that I haven't already tried spray painting but you found something! Now I'm dying to go out and find something ceramic to spray paint! And I want to write a new blog post and fill it chock full of semi-colons. lol

  16. Image for Kris Kris

    I like semicolons even more than exclamation points. I think they are all about timing--sometimes you need to take a breath before you finish a sentence. Your pitchers are pretty. Just so you know, my mom has invented the word "glumpy". She uses it to refer to dull, dreary weather, especially when it's rainy, as in "It sure is a glumpy day outside today." I think it comes from the root word "glump" which, according to the dictionary of Mom, refers to 1) a drip or 2) an unhappy/unfavorable experience. There you have it. Now you know .... the rest of the story.

  17. Image for Linda Linda

    I truly love the semi colon; however, I love all punctuation in general!! It tells you how to express the written word and who doesn't love that?? lol Been painting ceramics for a while now. This was great information to share.

  18. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    What an awesome post! Great inspiration. I just found 3 pitchers in my closet...going to go buy primer and spray paint!

  19. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    Let the spray painting begin. I did try a vase and that came out great!! Light coats are key. Pretty pitchers 😊

  20. Image for Yvette Yvette

    Love the pitchers!!! 🥰 I can’t tell you how many times I was going to buy a pitcher, but it was the wrong color or how many I have that I haven’t put out, because it was the wrong color. Now, I know that I can change it! 😊

  21. Image for Barbara Ann Barbara Ann

    So do y'all think this process would work on my glass spaghetti jars I've been saving?? I just can't stand to throw them out. I use Classico brand and the jar's are great. Because I have so many, several people call me to borrow, which I always say, just keep them!! Now, If this process works on the glass jars, I'll start a new project with them!

  22. Image for Becky Becky

    YES! The first thing I thought of when I read your title was "HOUSE OF HEPWORTHS!!!" I love being able to spray paint ceramic. My biggest project so far was two big, beautifully shaped but hideous butterscotch-colored lamps for my living room. They were perfection in a nice soft white. 😊 Your pitchers are MUCH improved, haha! I love them!

    1. Image for Becky Becky

      Oh hey, I forgot: does anyone know what causes spray paint to switch back and forth between glossy and flat? I mean like, WHILE I'm spraying?! I think I shake it often enough, so I'm befuddled by this!

  23. Image for Kelly Kelly

    I haven't spray painted ceramic, but I have several outdoor pieces that I have spray painted numerous times. My planters by my front door and an iron baker's rack that I've had for over 30 years. I was spray painting to update a look before it became the thing to do!

  24. Image for Peg Peg

    Love this!! I spray painted a thrift store lamp and it was an epic drip fail! I should have followed your steps and been more patient!! xoxo

  25. Image for Christine Christine

    I have a piece of green McCoy ware that was shattered in shipment; however, my husband carefully pieced it back together and filled in the cracks. I spray painted it with high gloss white paint and have it on the top of my hutch. You would never know it was damaged.

  26. Image for Barbara Chapman Barbara Chapman

    Love how your "new" pitchers turned out, KariAnne! Great idea and I'll definitely pin it. Glad you liked the thunder storms; they were booming just overhead here in Denton and I DO NOT like them. Kept me awake most of the night, Lol! Love your bathroom ~ so ethereal! Hugs, Barb :)

  27. Image for Jenny Jenny

    Your bathroom is so pretty. Please tell me the wall color and the white if you can? You are amazing and I love the spray paint pitcher idea. Thank you.

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