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Make Your Own André Planters

Capture the romance of France with these DIY antiqued andré planters. These antiqued buckets can be filled with flowers to add beauty and elegance to your home.

May 2018
By Amy Howard
Photos by Quentin Bacon

rescue restore redecorate cover

In Rescue, Restore, Redecorate: Amy Howard's Guide to Refinishing Furniture and Accessories (Abrams, 2018), Amy Howard brings beauty back into the furniture abandoned by others. She brings her artistic vision to every piece, and helps guide her readers to do the same. Not only does Howard offer her favorite refurbishing tips and tricks, she also shows readers how to get the best deal at flea markets. The following excerpt is the directions to her André Planters project in Chapter 9, "Aged Surfaces."

France makes my heart sing. I always want to bring something home from visits there — a piece of furniture, or more often an object or an idea I can make my own. The romance of France is easy to capture with antiqued buckets filled with flowers, boxwood, or other pretty growing things. You can get the metal buckets for this project at most big-box stores. Be careful to select only the galvanized kind, not the silver-painted sort, so that your antiquing solution can work its magic directly on the zinc coating. This aging effect also works beautifully on washtubs or decorative metal letters to hang on the wall.

andre planter


  • 1 bottle of zinc antiquing solution
  • 1 booklet of gold leaf, trimmed to size
  • Indoor-outdoor stickers
  • Water-based gilding size
  • Round artist's brush (#12)
  • 2-inch flat bristle brush
  • 1 pad of #0000 steel wool (optional)
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Scissors
  • Protective gloves
  • 2 or 3 clean, lint-free rags
  • Gentle degreaser
  • Small glass or plastic container

andre planter

Getting Started

Prepping the Surface

Oil is often used to make cutting galvanized sheet metal easier, so be sure to give your container a good cleaning to remove any grease that could act as a barrier to the antiquing solution.

andre planter

1. Using a clean rag and a little degreaser, thoroughly scrub the inside and outside of the bucket.

Antiquing the Bucket

Be sure to wear gloves while working with the zinc antiquing solution. Don't forget to antique the inside of the bucket as well as the outside, since the inside top of the bucket (and sometimes more) will often be visible after you have planted something in it. You may also sometimes find yourself wanting to fill your bucket with loose flowers just as the French florists do.

andre planter


2 and 3. In the glass or plastic container, saturate a clean rag in the zinc antiquing solution. Squeeze out the rag so there's not too much excess and then pat your entire surface with the zinc solution. It is best to hold the bucket at a 45-degree angle as you work your way around with the rag, rubbing in circles to cover the surface and to work in any drips. The shiny areas will start to disappear. Continue until the outside of the bucket looks completely matte black or dark gray.

andre planter

4. Let the bucket air-dry. After about 15 minutes the piece will begin to dry to a beautiful dusty-gray finish, which is because the patination process has changed the metal. Let the bucket dry completely (about 15 more minutes), until there are no dark areas left. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the inside of the bucket.

Go Nonreactive

It's important to use a glass or plastic container for your antiquing solution. No coffee or soup cans allowed, since the solution could react with any metal container!

Ornamenting the Details

I like having decorative containers in threes, and in this case, I purchased a taller bucket with an embossed element and two smaller buckets with no ornamentation. The embossed ornament on the larger bucket catches the eye thanks to a touch of gilding. For the smaller buckets, I found an indoor-outdoor monogram sticker with a flourish that adds an element of interest and personalization. There is no need to seal the sticker for outdoor use.

andre planter

andre planter

5 and 6. Trim the sticker if needed. Remove the sticker backing and carefully roll the sticky side onto the upper half of the container in your preferred spot.

andre planter

7. Using a plastic putty knife, burnish the sticker, pressing it well so that it adheres without bubbles.

andre planter

8. Remove the backing.

andre planter

9. To gild the embossed element on the large bucket, dip the tip of an artist's brush into the gilding size. Remove any excess size by running the side of your brush across the lip of the container. Brush the size only on the raised areas (I did the numbers and the border around them). After about 15 minutes, the size solution will turn from milky-white to clear. Test the size to see if it has come to tack by touching it with the tip of your ring finger; you're looking for a gentle pull.

andre planter

andre planter

10 and 11. Once the size has come to tack, apply a trimmed-to-size sheet of gold leaf: Holding the gold-leaf booklet taut at the folded portion of tissue paper near the spine on one side and at the other edge as shown, place the gold leaf against the surface and slowly pull away the single folded tissue sheet near the spine. Burnish the tissue paper side of the booklet by pressing with your fingertips in one direction to adhere the gold-leaf sheet below to the size, and pull the booklet away. Repeat, overlapping the edge of each leaf, until the desired areas are covered in gold leaf.

andre planter

12. Let the size dry completely (about an hour after you applied it). Gently swipe away any loose shards of gold leaf with the flat brush.

andre planter

13. If you would like to dull the shine of the leaf to age it, rub gently with the steel wool. Buff with a clean rag.

Seal and Buff

If you are using this technique on a zinc countertop or on decorative lettering, you can seal the sticker by rubbing a light antique wax over it with a clean, lint-free rag, letting it dry completely (about 30 minutes), then buffing it to a beautiful sheen.

andre planter

More from Rescue, Restore, Redecorate:

Excerpted with permission from Rescue, Restore, Redecorate by Amy Howard. Published by Abrams, © 2018.

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