handpainted planter
Home & Garden,  Living Simply,  Upcycling

Garden Planter – Paint letters without a Stencil

This fun and sweet upcycled metal kettle planter idea with a hand-painted saying is perfect for your porch or patio.  You don’t need a fancy cutting machine for this project! I’m going to show you how to paint letters without a stencil.

handpainted planter

Although Mother Nature has not quite gotten with the Spring weather program here, I am itching to get my hand hands dirty, gardening and freshening up our outdoor living spaces.  Looking on the bright side, the one good thing about the warmer weather being delayed is that it gives me more time to brainstorm ideas and actually get to one or two of the many projects I have on my to-do list.  Also, the mosquitos are not in full force yet!

This past weekend, I helped a family member clean out a storage shed and came across some great items that were potentially going to go to the landfill.  In addition to a gorgeous picture frame, an idea for which I will post on in the future, I found not one but three aluminum tea kettles! How sweet they are.  


These humble kettles remind me of simpler days of boiling water on the wood stove or open fire for family tea or maybe for warming up the bath water.  I have never had a wood stove or needed to warm up my bath water but I do like to daydream!

This type of kettle is perfect for projects because it has a huge opening, making planting your flowers a breeze!   Check out your local thrift shop or garage sale for potential planter-worthy kettles.

handpainted flower pot

Now to the project. Today, I am going to show you how to turn a much-loved old kettle into a super sweet flower planter with a hand-painted personalized saying. This will surely create quirky impact at your front door, porch or patio and will generate many smiles!

The materials for this project are pretty basic and you probably have most on hand.


  • An old aluminum tea kettle.   If you do not have an old kettle, why not try use a sap bucket, rusty metal lunch box, or bread box?  Just remember that you will be punching holes on the bottom of your item.
  • Outdoor paint (I used leftover paint from my outdoor bench refresh project).
  • Paintbrush
  • Tape
  • Printed out our hand-drawn saying. Scroll down to Design your Saying for instructions on creating a saying on your computer
  • Craft knife
  • Marker (Sharpie)
  • Planting soil and your choice of flowers, succulents, etc.  
  • Large nail
  • Hammer
kettle planter supplies


  • Clean your container with soap and water.  
  • Make sure to dry completely.
  • Turn your container bottom side up and place on a secure surface.
  • Using a screwdriver or big nail, hammer in lots of holes on the bottom of your container.  This will be used for drainage.
  • Using a small piece of sandpaper, roughen up the surface of the container so that the paint will stick better
  • Create a saying in Word (or draw it out onto paper). Keep in mind the size of your container.

Pick your saying

This is where it gets fun!  Brainstorm ideas for sayings — here are some suggestions but your imagination is your only limit!

  • Grow
  • Blossom
  • Bloom
  • Happy
  • How about ”welcome” or your “street number” for a planter that will sit at your front door?
  • Your Family Name

Change your font

Open Word and simply type your chosen word or saying.    Word will automatically use whatever font you have as default – probably Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri, right?  These fonts are great for typing up your resume but are not very creative.

Let’s change our font to match the feeling of the word you want to print. How do you do this you say? Well, there probably is a long graphic design rule or theory surrounding this but since I am not a graphic designer, I just go by how the font makes me feel.   For example, I think the word ‘smile’ needs a font that is cheery and happy. I chose Century Gothic because it is simple, just like a simple reminder that you should always find a reason to smile 🙂. The word ‘bonjour’ warrants a fun and playful font like Lobster.

old kettle flower planter

Now highlight the word and play around with the different font options until you find one that you like.    

  • Change your paper orientation to landscape.
  • Increase the font size to a size that will fit your container.   I usually just eyeball it.
  • These are the fonts and sizes I used for this project:

Hello – Georgia 240

Smile – Century Gothic 260

Bonjour – Lobster 200

These three fonts were part of my standard MS Office package but did you know that hundreds of fancy fonts are available free for download? There are tons of websites but my favorite is DaFont.  I am not affiliated with this website but just find that it is easy to use with a good selection of fonts. On DaFont, you can preview your word or saying before downloading your chosen font.  It also has fonts divided by category and a robust filter for viewing fonts by ownership right, i.e. free for personal use, 100% free, paid, royalty free, etc. I am sure I have over 100 fonts downloaded to my computer!   

Transfer your design

  • Now that you have sized up your design, print it out.   
  • Securely tape the paper, chalk side down, onto your container in the desired position.
  • Using the craft knife, score along the outline of your design onto your container. This will make an etching on the metal.
  • Remove the paper and you are now left with a template.
  • Go over the lines of the etching with marker or Sharpie to make it easier for painting.

Get painting

Get your outdoor paint out.   It is important to use outdoor paint if you would like your design to resist weathering.  This also eliminates the need for you to use a sealer over your paint. I’m all about quick results, you know.

Now get painting.   

I like to start by outlining the words first and then fill in.   

handpainted kettle

Let this dry according to your paint can instruction.

Do a second coat if desired.  I like one coat because I’m all about the rustic look.

Fill up with some garden soil and plant your annuals, succulents, or herbs!

As with any potted container, make sure to check the soil frequently to see if it needs water.  I find that containers can dry out quickly, especially if they are in full sunlight.

Step back and admire how sweet and unique this is!  

handpainted flower pot
handpainted flower pot
handpainted flower pots

What are some unique flower containers you have created?  

I think you will love other garden container ideas:

https://www.countryliving.com/gardening/g3166/container-gardening/ Country Living Magazine

http://www.diyhomestagingtips.com/2013/06/quick-and-dirty-tips-for-plant.html#.XOiL18hKjIU DIY Home Staging Tips

https://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/2012/06/herb-garden-old-kettle-style.html Funky Junk Interiors

https://ourfairfieldhomeandgarden.com/field-trip-potting-bench-from-a-dresser-and-other-ideas-gathered-in-lancaster-county-pa/  Our Fairfield Home and Garden

Sharing is caring!

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)