Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seaside Tray


Wooden tray
Two shades of blue-green craft paint
Off white craft paint
Decoupage Medium in 'Matte'
 Photocopied Nautical Image
Clothesline Rope
2  thin bristled paint brushes (1" wide)

This is a fun project that gives an old wooden tray a pretty make-over, and is so easy to do.

I found this nice wooden tray at the local 'Thrift and Gift' and although it is sweet, I thought it needed a new look. It was nice and sturdy, and the price was right at only $5.00. I love trays for carrying food and beverages, corralling condiments or cutlery, or just looking pretty on a wall or shelf.

I chose two shades of sea colors to paint the tray. I had paint from a home improvement project, but you can use craft paint in two slightly different shades to give it that 'beachy' look. I painted the tray with the lighter shade all over, let that dry and then with a dry 1" brush, very lightly stroked  the second color on top, here and there, to give it a weathered look. Always follow the wood grain when painting for a more natural look. Let the tray dry and then turn it over and paint the bottom and sides the same, as the bottom of the tray will be visible whenever it is carried.

For my 'Seascape' I chose a beautiful little watercolor painting that my Dear Mother had done when she was a school girl. Of course, I didn't want to use the original, so I took a color copy, using regular computer paper. You can choose a picture in a magazine, download an image, or use a small watercolor like I did. Keep in mind that any type of printed material on the back of an image, such as a magazine or newspaper, may show through after applying the decoupage medium, so color copies are the way to go.

I also wanted to give it a real 'nautical' look, so I decided to apply thin rope around the inside edge. I chose clothesline rope because it is thin, soft, and bends easily, and can be found in any hardware or home improvement store. The 3/16th size is perfect. The ends tend to fray, so dip the end in the decoupage medium as soon as you start applying the rope. Also, keep in mind that it will stretch if you pull on it, so be careful not to stretch it or it will pucker. The decoupage medium will completely seal the rope and make it waterproof.

 I like to use the Matte decoupage medium, rather than the gloss, as it leaves a soft sheen and is more forgiving of imperfect brush strokes. I like to apply it with a thin bristled 1" wall brush. Be careful of loose bristles, as you want to remove them before your work dries or you will have a permanent reminder! Also, I always use plastic underneath, as it won't stick to the project like newspaper will. I just use a kitchen trash bag.

Once you have your image copied, center it by using a measuring tape to make sure it is evenly placed. Use a pencil to mark around opposite corners of your image once you have it in place, then remove the image. These marks will be your guide for replacing your image after applying your decoupage medium, and will be permanent, so make them light (but not too light, you want to be able to see them through the decoupage medium) and as close to the edge of the image as possible.

Once your image is removed, you can start applying the decoupage medium. Using your 1" brush, apply it to the main body of the tray where you will be placing your image. Use an ample amount of decoupage medium, as you will want to be able to brush it on smoothly without any dry spots, following the grain of the wood. Work quickly and coat the entire base of the tray. Work in a little extra around the edges where you will be applying your rope. Keep your brushstrokes as straight and even as possible and try not to brush over an area twice, as it will get sticky, so use a good amount of medium, but not so much that it puddles. You may be alarmed at the appearance of your work, but have no fear, although the medium looks white when it is wet, it dries clear. 

Place your image on your placement marks and press down lightly but firmly with your fingers. Try not to pull on the image, as it might tear or distort once it is wet. Tap down the edges to seal.

Next, starting at a corner, place the rope around the edges. Don't cut the rope until you have it completely placed around the edge, or you may come up short. Remember to seal the end with decoupage medium to prevent fraying. Gently lay the rope down without stretching it or twisting it. The rope will be rounded at the corners, so you will want to round out your starting and ending corner to match. Don't worry if the rope doesn't lie completely flat yet; once you go over it with more medium, it will adhere.

Once your image and rope are in place, go over it once more with the decoupage medium, starting with the edges and letting the medium drip down onto the rope, tapping it with the ends of the bristles to make sure the rope is coated completely. Then, using enough on your brush to keep it flowing smoothly and using nice straight strokes from side to side, following the same grain line as before, finish coating the entire base.

Next, coat the sides, being mindful of any drips on the outside, as they will be impossible to remove if they are allowed to dry. Work quickly and don't brush over any previous areas, as it will set up fast and be too sticky to smooth over. For that reason you will want to work on one area at a time.

Let your tray dry a few hours or overnight and then turn it over and coat the bottom and sides with decoupage medium to seal it and make it washable.

To give your tray a nice weathered 'Salty Spray' look, brush on a little off white paint, then quickly wipe it off with a wet cloth, letting a little remain in the corners and on the surface. Work quickly, one area at a time, as it will dry faster than you think. You can allow this coat to dry and give it another coat of decoupage medium to seal it, or you can leave it as is. I left mine unsealed, as it gave it that rough driftwood feel. It will still remain washable. Remember, do not submerge your tray in water, simply wipe clean.

I hope this gives you inspiration to create your own little reminder of a wonderful day at the Sea.

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