Tutorial Tuesday: Creating Painted Word Trays

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Tutorial Tuesday. The holidays in December really put a dent in our creative time, but we are finally back. We’ve also decided that we are going to change our Tutorial Tuesdays to a once a month event rather than weekly. Quite frankly, we have so many creative projects planned for 2013 that we don’t know how we will fit it all in and the weekly requirement of a tutorial post was making it difficult to complete other tasks. But don’t worry, we have lots of fun, creative projects and ideas to pass your way.

This week’s tutorial is a detailed, step-by-step process of how I prepared the trays for our Christmas tray wall shown in our December 23, 2012 post.

I must admit I really enjoyed this project for several reasons. First of all, I love typography so anytime I get to create a project that involves using text and different types of text, I am in heaven. Secondly, this project has a lot of impact in our home due to the simple yet effective color scheme. Every guest who came into our home over the holidays remarked on this simple project. I loved it! Thirdly, I love the fact that this project could be repeated for many other holidays or looks: pink and white trays with words of love for Valentine’s Day, orange and black trays with “scary” expressions for Halloween, or orange and brown trays with expressions of thanks for Thanksgiving. The list goes on and on, so without further ado, let’s get creating.

Step 1 Find and Prepare the Trays for Paint


Here are the trays I started with:

As you can see, there is a real hodge-podge of trays here. My only requirement for the trays I used is that they had to be different sizes and shapes as I wanted my wall to have variety in the text and the tray shapes. Any time either my husband or I see a metal tray in a thrift store that is inexpensively priced, we pick it up, even if we don’t know what we are going to use it for. As a result, I had a large selection to choose from.

After pulling the trays I wanted, I rubbed them down with vinegar to remove any oils, substances, etc. that might interfere with paint adhesion. Then I washed the trays with water and dried them well. Lastly, I applied Heritage MultiSurface Sealer to each tray as seen in the photo below.

I know Paul and I have both repeatedly sung the praises of Heritage MultiSurface Sealer in previous posts but we can’t help it. This stuff is amazing. It provides a tooth for paint to adhere to regardless of the surface you are painting. If you want your project to last and the paint to stick, I cannot stress how important this step is.

Dry the trays well after applying the Sealer.

Step 2 Paint the Trays

This step can be a tedious one, especially if you are applying light paint over a dark tray. It often takes several coats to get the coverage you need. If you are planning to put a different color border on your tray I would recommend painting the border on first and applying it slightly into the area where the other color will go so you don’t need to worry about accidently leaving an unpainted band where the two colors meet.

Step 3 Glaze the Trays for Age


To age the trays and to make the color look less bright, I glazed my trays. I used a mix of two colors: Raw Sienna and Raw Umber.

I applied a light coat of Heritage Extender Medium over the dry tray and then lightly brushed on my mixed brown paint.

While the paint was still wet, I wiped off some of the brown using a paper towel until I had the “antique” look I was going for. Then I dried the paint well.

Step 4 Apply the Text


I used Microsoft Word to print out words in the fonts that I wanted to use, then using a sheet of graphite paper I traced the words onto the dried paint. I then painted in the words using the same shade of paint as my border color.

Step 5 Hang the Trays


Hanging trays like these can be tricky because it can be difficult to put hangers on the back. A great trick to solve this problem is to apply two pieces of duct tape to the back. One piece will be looped and held on by the other. The looped piece will need a hole cut into it so that the nail in the wall can go through it and hang on it.

I plan on making more of these trays to celebrate other holidays and seasons and I’ll be sure to share the look with you in the future.

Thanks for visiting,


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