How often do you set a drink or messy snack like ice cream with chocolate sauce on the sofa, hoping it won’t tip over? Or set it on the floor where a child, a pet — or even you! — can accidentally bump and spill it? I’ve been hoping to not spill drinks and ice cream for years! Eventually my luck will run out. We just need a little table to put near our sofa. Really, a tray on a stand! And that’s what made me think of Florentine trays as inspiration for a little table.
Source: Collection of trays from Everyday Beauty
Florentine trays are slightly shabby-looking trays painted in colors from soft to rich, and gilded with gold. They look a bit chalky, which led me to use Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan for this project. Florentine trays traditionally were made of balsa wood and covered in layers of paper-mache, gesso, and then gilded. As you’ll see, my little table is made from various different pieces of wood all cobbled together, but you’d never guess if it weren’t for this tutorial. Paint hides all and makes it beautiful!
Here are supplies to make this project:
To build the table:
- Pieces of ready-made round wood from craft stores or home improvement stores – I used five pieces ranging from 6.5″ to 11″ in diameter.
- A chunky candlestick, about 16-18″ tall
- Wood glue or E-6000 glue
- Long flat head screws
- Cordless drill or screwdriver
- Wood filler
To paint the table:
- Florentine style stencil like Royal Design Studio’s Small Palermo Tile Wall Stencil
- Royal Design Studio’s 2″ wide stencil brush
- Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan – I used Coco, Emperor’s Silk and Graphite
- Stencil Size
- Stencil brush
- Painter’s tape
- Paper towel
- Metal leaf or foil like Maltese Gold Metal Finish Foil
Steps to Build the Table
The table is ridiculously easy to build! I’m a crafty DIY’er not a carpenter/builder so I tend to not do DIYs that involve plugging tools into electrical outlets. So if I can do this, anyone can do it! Simply start with a large heavy chunky candlestick. You will glue three round wood pieces in successively larger diameters to the bottom of the candlestick, with the widest piece on the bottom. And, glue two round wood pieces on the top of the candlestick, with the widest piece on the top. I used E-6000 glue and it’s very strong.
You’ll want to be sure that the bottom is heavier than the top, so your table tray doesn’t wind up top-heavy and run risk of tipping over. You want enough height to the candlestick and the round discs so that your table tray is about 20-22″ in total height.
For extra structural support, you can drive a long flat-headed screw through the second-from-top wood piece, down into the top of the candlestick. Also drive a long flat-headed screw through the bottom wood discs, up through the bottom of the candlestick. Be sure to use a flat-headed screw so it will sink into the wood. Then you’ll be able to glue the top and bottom wooden discs and hide the screw.
As an optional step, fill in any cracks, dents or gaps with wood filler. One of my round wood pieces had a beveled edge, which left a wide gap, so wood filler made that disappear.
That’s it! You now have a little tray table. If you chose various woods like I did, it probably doesn’t look too great yet. But don’t worry, paint will fix that.
Steps to Paint the Table
You can paint your table all one color, two colors, or have fun with many colors. I chose three colors – Graphite, Coco and Emperor’s Silk – because they coordinate with the room where this table will be. Two coats of Chalk Paint covered the table. This step will make a dramatic difference! Now let’s dress the table up with some metal foil.
Steps to Foil Stencil the Table
The next step is to add the Florentine stencil and metal leafing to create the Florentine tray look. I followed a few tutorials on Paint and Pattern here and here that show how to apply the Stencil Size. Similar to stenciling, you place your stencil where you want the metal pattern, dab your stencil brush lightly into the stencil size, then off-load extra stencil size onto paper towel. Then paint the stencil size through the stencil. I waited about 15 minutes as suggested, until the stencil size feels tacky. It shouldn’t be wet or dry.
Apply your metal foil to the stencil size. The Metal Finish Foil comes in a long sheet, so you can cut a small piece to fit your stencil area. Rub the metal foil with a straight edge or even with your finger (which I preferred) until you see the foil is sticking to the stencil size. Peel the sheet back and that’s it! If you missed any spots you can simply put the sheet back down, rub again, and then lift and the spot should be filled in with shiny metal.
After foiling the middle of the tabletop, there was a lot of space left that I decided to fill in with more metal foil. So I cut some round scrolling pieces from the stencil, and added painter’s tape to make the edges wider so the stencil size wouldn’t flow over the edge. It kind of looks like an owl, doesn’t it! I placed these round scrolling shapes around the perimeter of the top of the table. To get them all placed evenly, think of the round table as a compass and put four shapes at the North, South, East and West edges. Then, put four more shapes in between those four shapes, like at the Northwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northeast points. This makes it easy to evenly place all the shapes. What a neat trick!
Finally, I applied stencil size in thin stripes with a brush on a few spots on the candlestick, and made subtle bands of gold foil there.
At this point, the project is done! You could call it finished, but I decided to tone down the strong contrast of the gold on the black Graphite paint. Plus the inspiration is Florentine trays, which look antiqued, chalky and imperfect. I mixed some Coco paint with the Graphite color to lighten the black to a dark gray, then applied just the tiniest bit of this mixed paint to the big 3″ stencil brush. I offloaded like crazy on paper towel because I wanted just a light haze of color. Then I swirled the stencil brush over all the black areas to lighten them up and create a gray hazy chalky finish.
None of these steps took long and the Chalk Paint dries fast, so the painting was finished in an afternoon. Then I placed the table by the sofa and finally am able to write this post with a drink safely nearby!
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