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Tutorial: Dollar Store Tray Makeover

As I mentioned previously, this was my craft for the Dollar Store round of So You Think You’re Crafty, but I was knocked out  the previous round (Congrats to Randi of Dukes and Duchesses for taking out the crown, by the way!).

I’m one of those people that only sees junk when I head to the dollar store, so this was quite a challenge. Wandering around aimlessly, I spotted a plain white melamine platter/tray. This could solve the frustrations I’ve had with walking in and out the backdoor a million times whenever we decide to barbecue or eat outside.

So what could I do with an ugly, cheap-looking melamine tray? We were given a lovely platter years ago (maybe an engagement present?). I love the simple blue design, but don’t have anything to match it (and the pattern is no longer in stock). I’m not much of a painter, but I thought the design was simple enough for me to try.


Acrylic paint doesn’t adhere to melamine (I checked!), and I didn’t want to buy glass paint that I’d probably never use again. An experiment with tacky craft glue and acrylic paint adhered well to the melamine and created a nice 3D, glossy, non-slip surface. The result: a fun tray that matches what I already own for next to nothing that doesn’t look (too) cheap!

Melamine Platter/Tray
Butcher’s paper (or thin paper for tracing)
Craft knife
Sharpie/Permanent pen
Acrylic Paint (I used two shades of blue)
Tacky Craft Glue
Small snap-lock bags
Here’s the serving platter that I used as my inspiration:


And the plain melamine serving tray:


I started by tracing the outline of the pattern onto butcher’s paper (with pencil).


I started cutting it all out with a craft knife, but as it is a symmetrical pattern, I ended up using a few cut-out pieces as a guide, and drew the design onto the platter with a permanent pen. Tracing the pattern first was good practice for someone like me who doesn’t draw. I started by marking the centre point of my platter:


And then sketched and traced out the full design. I had to use permanent pen as this was the only thing that wouldn’t smudge off the melamine.

(I’m not the most artistic and there were a few whoopsies!)

Mix together a big blob of craft glue with a smaller blob of acrylic paint – sorry this isn’t very precise, but here’s what it looked like (I used two different blue paints to get the shade I wanted):


After mixing it all together with a paint brush, I painted the outside edge of the tray (I probably should have taped along the inside section to get a sharper line). I then added a bit more dark blue paint and put the remaining paint/glue mixture into a zip-lock bag and squished the mixture into one corner:


I put the zip-lock bag in the freezer for 15 minutes to thicken the mixture up. Then I snipped the tiniest amount off the corner of the bag. Using my cake-decorating skills, I piped the paint-glue mixture over the outline on the tray:

(Not perfect, but a reasonable effort!)

Freezing the mixture made it more like puffy paint and gave a 3D effect. I left the paint to dry overnight.
The next day, I mixed up some more paint-glue mixture, gave an extra coat on the outside of the tray and painted over the remainder of the sketch, filling in some of the piped sections. (I didn’t freeze and pipe this time as I wanted the different heights to give a textured look.)


I did have to blob the paint on reasonably thick and touch up with an extra coat to cover all the permanent pen. I then let the tray dry overnight again.


So considering I can’t draw or paint very well, I’m really happy that I created a tray that matches one of my favourite serving platters. The slight glueyness of the paint also makes things stick to the tray just a little and helps the tray feel steady when I’m using it.

How about a barbecue this weekend?


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