How to Make a Clay Pot Lighthouse


Lighthouses are a popular decorating motif not only because of their nautical roots, but because they symbolize safe harbor and protection. This lighthouse made from terra cotta clay pots is surprisingly easy to assemble, and it even features a lantern on top to cast a warm glow. You can place it in the garden as a decoration, or use it as a centerpiece for a beach gathering.


Terra Cotta Clay Pot Lighthouse
(Jonathan Fong)

Things You'll Need

  • 4 clay pots (1 large, 1 medium, 1 small, 1 extra small)
  • 2 clay saucers, small
  • Outdoor acrylic paint in your choice of colors
  • Permanent adhesive
  • Glass votive holder
  • Flameless battery-operated tea light
  • Paint brushes
Step 1

You will need four clay pots for this project. They can be any size you wish, as long as they are in four incremental sizes – large, medium, small and extra small. Begin by cleaning the pots with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Wipe the clay pots with a damp cloth
Jonathan Fong
Step 2

Using outdoor acrylic paint, which is weatherproof to withstand the elements, paint the rim of the clay pots one color, and the body of the pots another. I chose to paint the rims white. Apply three coats, allowing the paint to dry between coats. For now, only paint the large, medium and small pots.

Paint the rims
Jonathan Fong
Step 3

After the paint on the rims is dry, paint the body of the clay pots. I chose to paint them red since some of the most striking lighthouses in real life are red. As with the white paint, apply three coats, allowing the paint to dry between coats. It is OK if you see the brush strokes -- these add to the vintage look of the lighthouse.

Paint the body of the pots
Jonathan Fong
Step 4

Using black paint and a small brush, paint rectangles on the pots to create windows. If you do not feel comfortable drawing the windows freehand, create a rectangular stencil with some masking tape, painting within the stencil. If you do use a stencil, a dryer brush works better than a wet brush, as less paint is likely to bleed under the tape.

Paint windows on the pots
Jonathan Fong
Step 5

Paint both sides of the saucers a contrasting color. I chose a navy blue. Also paint the extra small clay pot the same color of the saucers. These three elements will be used to create the lantern on top of the lighthouse.

Paint the saucers and smallest pot
Jonathan Fong
Step 6

Position the large clay pot upside down and squeeze some permanent adhesive around the edge of the pot's bottom – which is now on top. Also, apply some adhesive inside the rim of the medium pot. Make sure it's only on the inside of the medium pot. You do not want any adhesive showing.

Apply adhesive to the base of the large pot
Jonathan Fong
Step 7

Place the medium clay pot upside down on top of the large one so the pots make contact where the adhesive was placed. Make sure the medium pot is sitting level on the larger one. Repeat this step with the small clay pot, attaching it to the medium one with adhesive. Follow the directions on the adhesive package for the recommended drying time.

Place the medium pot on top of the large one
Jonathan Fong
Step 8

Squeeze some adhesive on the base of the small clay pot and position one of the clay saucers on top of it.

Glue one saucer to the small pot
Jonathan Fong
Step 9

Apply some adhesive to the rim of the extra small clay pot and glue it to the second saucer, which is also inverted. This is the cap of the lighthouse's lantern.

Glue the extra small pot to the second saucer
Jonathan Fong
Step 10

Place a glass votive holder in the saucer on top of the lighthouse, and put a flameless battery-operated tea light in it. Cover the votive holder with the cap from the last step, and your lighthouse is complete.

Add a battery-operated tea light
Jonathan Fong

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not use real tea lights in the votive holder unless you remove the cap of the lantern.
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