When serving company a tray can be not only useful but a conversation starter. Simple wood trays can be found at your local craft stores such as JoAnne’s or Michael’s.
Supplies needed would include:
woodwash in desired color (acrylic paint will do just as well)
photocopies of your favorite photos or images (you can use stickers as well)
wallpaper glue, or Tacky Glue
clear satin varnish
fine grade sandpaper
sharp pointed scissors or craft knife (oddly enough mustache scissors are great for cutting out details)
soft cotton cloth
raw umber oil paint*
Items marked with a (*) are option. Raw umber oil paint will give the tray an aged look. The crackle glaze makes the image look cracked. The cutting mats are also known as “self healing cutting mats.” These are usually expensive, and really only need to be purchased if you make collage items often. They will help preserve the life of your craft knife blades.
Make sure your tray is clean and dry. Paint it with your woodwash or acrylic paint. A paint brush gives the paint a smoother, unlined look. If you like a textured look you can dab the paint with a sponge or wad up paper towels. If you use your fingertips it will give the paint a smooth yet lined look. I love making swirls in the paint, that is achieved best with fingertips.
Allow the paint to dry and then rub the tray with fine sandpaper. The sandpaper gives the wood “tooth” and helps the images remain in place better. Cut out your photocopied images. Take your time, keeping as much detail as possible. Mustache scissors are wonderful for this type of cutting.
Cover the back of the cut outs with wall paper glue, or Tacky Glue. If using Tacky Glue, place some in a paper plate, that way you can only use as much as you’d like, wiping the access on the plate. Do not overload your brush with glue or your paper will warp and get bubbly. A great solution for this is using old credit cards to gently smooth out any bubbles. Make sure you cover the entire back of the cut out with glue. Arrange the images as you wish. Allow to dry overnight.
Use a clean paintbrush to apply a light coat of varnish to the whole area of the tray. Do the entire tray, even where there is no imaging. You can also opt for a spray on varnish But only use spray on varnish in an open area, because the fumes are not good for you to inhale!
In-between coats of varnish lightly rub the area with sandpaper, spray again, allow dry, and so on. I usually use about three coats of varnish, just to keep it as secure as possible.
At this point you may use crackle glaze. Simply follow the directions on the back of the container, since many crackles are applied differently. If you choose to crackle glaze the tray, you must do at least another coat of varnish. If you wish to give your tray an old antique look rub a small amount of oil paint into the cracks with an old, soft cloth. Any color can be used, but raw umber will give an aged look. If you use oil paint for aging you must do yet another layer of varnish.
You can add fun details like beads, flat marbles, charms, etc. The best glue for adding editions would be E-6000 glue, which can be purchased at craft stores or home improvement stores. Again, as with the spray varnish, make sure you are in a well ventilated room when used E-6000 glue.
You will now have an interesting and useful item for your next party!