March 9, 2011

art tray: a tutorial

OK, so when I say tutorial here, I'm using the term lightly because this was pretty simple. But what the hey, it was fun little project and it turned out well so I'm going to share.
Evelyn occupies more space on this blog than Briton. Part of that is just the fact that she is home with me most of the time and he is at school, so a lot of what I do during the day is with her. She also likes to have her picture taken and wants things made for her and so many of my projects tend to be for her. Briton, well, Briton is 8 1/2. He is starting to have opinions on things like haircuts and clothes and he isn't a big fan of getting his picture taken a lot of the time these days. He and I do a lot of things together, they just aren't as projecty (because project wise, he leaves me in the dust. The kid makes things like crazy. Currently he is working on a ball launcher for his fort).

But while Briton might not appear as much in the blog, art wise, he is all over the place in this house. We have his paintings, collages and sculptures everywhere. And it's here that Evie kind of gets the shaft. We have some of her drawings up on the vent (we have an exposed air duct in the kitchen for displaying art) but not a lot beyond that. I'm sure that once she starts Kindergarten she'll be bringing home projects by the bucket load just like her brother, but in the mean time I decided to use some of her "art" on a tray I wanted to rehab.

I'm a big tea girl and a few years ago Will bought me a pretty little tray from the Delft factory while on a business trip for toting my tea things out to the living room and the yard and the bedroom. Which was great. Except, don't tell him this, but the thing is not wide enough for my saucers. I know, I know, who uses saucers anymore? Well I do. I just do. So the tray is a little frustrating as a tray. However, it's perfect as a place for my oils and vinegars to sit on the counter. And that's where it has been pretty much since we moved in (and got counters, that is) But this leaves me without a tray. I've looked for one but nothing has really jumped out at me.
So a few weeks ago I was doing my weekly Michaels run and came across this perfectly sized tray in the clearance bin. Ugly, yes, but the perfect size. And for a buck, I couldn't pass it up. Last fall I Modge Podged a tray with a collage of the kids art to give to my parents at Christmas (my tea drinking habits are genetic) and then put it away somewhere until winter and promptly forgot where I hid it. No, really, it's still lost (sorry mom and dad, when I find it, it'll be in the mail) I was sure I'd find it during the great closet clean out but no luck. It's a mystery. But I started off with the idea of repeating this project for myself. However, when I looked through the collected art from the past few months I realized that almost everything was Briton's and it was all bold and fun and truthfully, framable - not really something I wanted to Modge Podge into a collage.

But while the closet clean out did not yield the lost tray, it did reveal a stash of paper that I set aside for wrapping gifts. We often cover our coffee table with paper and set out crayons and just let people scribble away on it. It's one of Evie'e favorite things and so most of the time it's all her, but some of the rolls have mom and dad and Briton and playdate friend's drawings as well.When it's pretty well covered I un-tape, roll it up and put it away for gift wrap. Or art trays. Because it's perfect.

This piece is that thinnish art paper that comes by the roll. I usually use freezer paper for the coffee table because it's sturdier but I must have been out for a while because I have several sheets of Evie scribbled art paper. It's also almost all crayon and after my experience with the mixed mediums from Briton's art on the first tray, I would say go crayon. It doesn't smear when you put the Modge Podge on and the colors stay true.

Alright, have you made it this far? Man, I'm having a wordy kind of day! Well good for you if you have, here's the drill.

Art Tray

You'll need:

1 hard plastic tray
Art big enough to more than cover the tray (again, thin paper and crayon is best)
Modge Podge Hard Coat
Clear poly-urethane
Craft knife
Cutting mat
Foam paintbrush
Sand paper (fine grit)

First, lightly sand the entire top side and edges of the tray, this will help the Modge Podge to stick. Clean the dust off well (the easiest way is to rinse it under the faucet and then let it dry) and apply a thin coat of Modge Podge all over the top of the tray. smooth the art on, cutting slits at the corners to help ease over the curved or angled parts. Smooth, smooth, smooth while it dries. And let it dry all the way before proceeding.

Now, flip the tray over onto the cutting mat and trim off all of the excess with the craft knife. Flip over and check that all the edges are smooth, trimming further as needed.
Coat the tray in another three thin coats of Modge Podge, letting each layer dry before adding the next and taking the Modge Podge all the way around the top rim of the tray with each coat.

Once you have all the coats on and dry, lightly sand the edges to smooth any Modge Podge/paper bumps. Wipe any dust away and spray or paint two coats of polyurethane onto the tray, top and bottom, allowing drying time in between. This will protect it from heat and moisture.
And that's about it. Pretty simple, yes? But I love how it turned out. It almost looks like a modern art print. Almost. And it fits my saucers perfectly :)

So, what do you do with kid art? Anything out of the ordinary (because I have lots and I need some more ideas!)