Patterned Posts and Totem Poles

For our school gala this year, it was decided that each student would make a piece of artwork that could be sold as a fundraiser. We really wanted to create something that was 3 dimensional and eventually settled on creating patterns or totem poles on fenceposts. We are stoked with the results! Here’s how we did it. IMG_7728

You will need: 

  • Fence posts (ours were between 120cm and 150cm in height)
  • Poster paint
  • Paint brushes in various sizes
  • Masking tape
  • Water based sealant (we used a Cabot’s one we picked up at Bunnings)
  • Pencil and paper for creating designs
  • Lots of newspaper to protect your work surface



  1. Use masking tape to mark off 30cm from the base of the post. This will give you enough room to set the post in the ground when finished, should you decide to use it as a garden ornament.
  2. Apply a coat of white paint as a base. The post will absorb paint, so you might like to do more than one coat- I did three. Make sure you get the flat top of the post as well. Students will find it easiest to work in pairs, with one partner holding the post while the other paints.
  3. While your base coat is drying, begin creating your design. Use an A3 piece of paper, portrait. If you are creating a totem pole style design, with faces on top of each other, give consideration to what you can put on the opposite side of the pole to make it interesting from all angles. You can roll up your design page to get an idea of what it will look like on the post. Include notes about the colours you will use in your plan.
  4. When the base coat is dry, pencil on your designs. You might like to use more masking tape to create crisp lines and sections throughout the design.
  5. Paint on your design. You may find that you need to use more than one coat to build an opaque layer of paint. When the paint is dry, peel off any masking tape and make touch ups if necessary.
  6. Apply a coat of varnish. We used a water based sealant that dried to a matte finish. These artworks would look great in the home or garden. Enjoy! IMG_7716

One thought on “Patterned Posts and Totem Poles

  1. Kia ora from sunny Mahana. This looks fabulous and thanks for the quick ‘how to’ guide – that may well come in handy one day. Would be quite keen to see the other art your students did too. Always fun to see what other people are up to!


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