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Swatches of tea-stained fabric give these of serving trays their undeniable antique charm. They're handy for everything from setting out bowls of fresh berries and cream to delivering sundaes to a crowd.
• Unfinished wood nesting trays
• Latex primer
• Flat, 1-inch (2.5 cm) artist's brush
• Ivory acrylic paint
• Black tea
• Floral fabric, 100 percent cotton
• Sharp, precision-tip scissors
• Matte decoupage medium
• Acrylic paints in colors to match the flowers on your fabric
• Small round artist's brush
1. Using the flat brush, cover your trays completely with a coat of latex primer. Let them dry.
2. Cover the trays again with a coat of ivory paint.
3. Make a pot of black tea, and soak the fabric in it to "age" it. Check the fabric every minute or so to see if it has colored enough. When you're satisfied, remove the fabric and let it dry.
4. Carefully cut the flower images out of the fabric, and place them how you want them on the insides of the trays. Let the flowers overlap onto the inner sides of the trays.
5. Using the flat brush again, apply decoupage medium where each flower will be, then pat the flowers in place and let them dry.
6. With the round brush and the colored paints, add accents such as stems and polka dots to the insides of the trays. An easy way to make dots is to use the end of the handle of the brush.
Variation: Add stripes to your tray. Before you add the flowers, use the ruler and pencil to lay down stripe lines. Paint them and let them dry, then decoupage the flowers in place.
7. Use the pencil to lightly draw curlicues or other accents on the outside edges of the trays. Paint the accents and let them dry.
8. Brush decoupage medium over all the trays. The outsides will need only one coat; give the insides at least three coats.
Adapted from Summer Style: Decorating Ideas & Projects for Outdoor Living by Paige Gilchrist (Lark Books, 2003).
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