DIY Mini Terracotta Clay Seedling Dishes

Follow this step by step tutorial to make a set of miniature terra cotta seedling dishes from air dry clay. Stack them, decorate with them, or pile them in a bowl or cloche to show them off!

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Everything is cuter when it's smaller, and these tiny terracotta dishes are no exception! I ordered a set a couple years ago from but I haven't seen them since. Antique Farmhouse sells a large set of tiny terracotta dishes with crate, but it's often out of stock, which is why I decided to come up with a DIY dupe so anyone could make their own set of adorable, stackable mini seedling pots anytime!

You are not going to believe what I used to shape these little DIY clay dishes, keep reading and I'll dish all the details! If you're interested in the homespun fabric and wood bead sunflowers, check out that tutorial here.

If you love the look of these mini terracotta bowls but don't want to make them yourself, continue scrolling for some shopping sources of similar style bowls that are in stock right now!

Terracotta is currently having a moment in home decor. It's versatile, natural and the color really works beautifully with any season!

How to make DIY terracotta clay seedling dishes

These little DIY clay dishes are not perfect. They have a handcrafted look and they're quite simple to do! You might already have most of the supplies at home. Here's what you'll need.


  • terracotta colored air dry clay (I used this brand)
  • cling wrap
  • small sauce bowl like this
  • a couple of plastic eggs (I raided my Easter stash)
  • disposable gloves*
  • plastic spoon
  • something to protect work surface

* this clay will stain everything it touches, which is why I highly recommend wearing disposable gloves (I used multiple pairs as I was making these terracotta pots)

Below are the steps that you will take to form these little terracotta bowls. I've illustrated the steps below.

Step 1 - cover sauce bowl with cling film

Take a moment to line a sauce bowl with cling film. The inside is what matters, so be sure to press out any air bubbles before wrapping the film around the dish.

Step 2 - work a ball of clay

Use the disposable spoon to scoop out a ball of clay. How much you need will depend on how big your bowl is, how thick you make them, etc. Start with about a golf ball sized ball of clay, and make adjustments after you experiment.

Work the clay in your hands to soften it up, forming a ball. This was my first time working with the terracotta clay, and I quickly realized it was going to stain my hands something awful, so I wore disposable gloves for the rest of this DIY.

Step 3 - press clay ball in bowl

Place the clay ball in the center of the bowl. Take the plastic egg, and press it down into the clay, rotating it sideways until the clay forms the shape of the bowl. You'll need to be gentle, but firm at the same time if that makes sense! 

Press hard enough to shape the bowl but if you press too hard, the clay will become too thin and won't hold its shape.

Tip: It helps to have more than one egg to help shape the bowls; I found the clay started to stick to the egg after making a couple of bowls.

Step 4 - lift cling wrap to remove 

Remove the clay bowl by lifting the cling wrap. Be gentle, as the clay is soft and fragile and can easily warp.

Step 5 - dry

Set the clay dishes aside to dry. This may take anywhere from 12-24 hours, or more, if the clay is thick in any areas. After 12 hours, flip the bowls over to dry the bottoms.

Step 6 - moisten cracks

The edges of the terracotta bowls will have some cracks. While the clay is still soft, you can moisten your finger and gently rub it along the cracks to smooth them out. We'll take care of the rest in the next step.

As the little clay dishes dry, they will lighten in color.

Step 7 - sand

When the clay dishes are completely dry, take some sandpaper (or a sanding sponge) and sand the edges to further smooth the cracks. Start with a lower grit like 80, and then finish off with a fine grit like 220 to get a really smooth surface.

Here are my three handmade terracotta bowls next to the one I bought. You can see that one edge is a little thicker than the other, and I haven't sanded the edges yet. They're far from perfect, but they are an inexpensive and sweet solution if you want to make a set of your own mini terracotta seedling pots!

How to decorate with terracotta seedling pots

I love to create stacks of these mini dishes and use them in my hutch with white ironstone. They are wonderful for Fall decorating because the warm colors work so well with the colors of autumn.

Terracotta is one of those colors that plays nice with most other colors! I paired it with some copper pieces and some early Fall stems on my coffee bar. Adding stacks of these mini dishes to a glass cloche is an interesting way to display them.

I mixed my terracotta pots in with some small saucers to fill up the cloche.

If you notice, some of my terracotta dishes look mottled. I dry brushed some brown paint onto some of them after they dried, to add a little more depth. Of course, this is optional.

I am loving these warm colors paired with blue, and plan to continue that with my fall decorating this year.

Terracotta seedling dishes make the perfect little vessels for a tealight candle, and I love them paired with my DIY chunky drippy candles that I made last year.

You can use these small handcrafted bowls in your craft room to corral small supplies, keep one beside the sink to hold your rings. Oh the possibilities!

Just a note: you do want to be careful not to let these air dry clay bowls sit in water, otherwise the clay will melt. I found this out the hard way when I made my terracotta clay herb markers.

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