Make fam­ily project a part of your home

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DEB­BIE TRAVIS

IT’S hol­i­day time for the kids and whether you are at the cot­tage or en­joy­ing your back­yard, you’ll want to plan a few projects that ev­ery­one can en­joy to­gether. It’s all the more sat­is­fy­ing when a fam­ily project be­comes part of your home, in­doors or out. This is eas­ily ac­com­plished if you be­gin with a ba­sic idea, such as trans­form­ing a ta­ble top. Chil­dren love cre­ative play, and their imag­i­na­tions have yet to be stymied by what’s sup­pos­edly “cor­rect”, so take the lead from them and see what bril­liant de­signs they come up with. For my tele­vi­sion se­ries, I have had enor­mous fun work­ing with all ages on projects, and here are two that are sure to please.

Tiled table­tops have a rus­tic charm that al­ways makes me think of the kitchens in south­ern France. The Proven­cal ta­ble shown here would make a great pic­nic ta­ble for the back­yard lawn or cot­tage beach. It is easy to re­pro­duce the sim­ple de­signs and bright sunny colours with paint. Stamp­ing is an art form that is avail­able to all ages.

For this project, all you need are some kitchen sponges cut into the shapes of the tiles re­quired for your de­sign. Pre­pare your wood sur­face with two base coats of gray, or the colour you want the “grout lines” around your painted tiles to be. De­sign an in­ter­est­ing tile pat­tern and draw it lightly with a pen­cil onto the pre­pared table­top. Cut out tile shapes from the sponges to fit your de­sign; large and small squares, rec­tan­gles, and tri­an­gles. Re­mem­ber to cut the sponge tiles a lit­tle smaller than their re­spec­tive ta­ble size to leave “grout” space around each tile im­pres­sion. To fill in the de­sign, dampen a sponge tile stamp, dip one end into some paint, dab off the ex­cess on a piece of paper towel and press the sponge onto the sur­face. The im­pres­sions do not have to be per­fect as they are rep­re­sent­ing the look of old, worn out tiles. Once the ta­ble de­sign is com­plete and dry, erase any vis­i­ble pen­cil lines and fin­ish with two or three coats of matte var­nish for pro­tec­tion.

Small round side ta­bles are handy for snacks, drinks, or dis­play­ing plants and herbs out­side. If you like the look of stone or ce­ment with­out the weight, then pro­duce your own stone look us­ing plas­ter. You can tint plas­ter with artist’s acrylics. The recipe I used to pro­duce the look of sand­stone is two ta­ble­spoons raw um­ber and one ta­ble­spoon yel­low ocher artist’s acrylics for two cups of plas­ter. Mix well be­cause the plas­ter is thicker than the paint. The trick to this fin­ish is to cre­ate tex­ture with a sponge and spat­ula.

Ap­ply a thin coat of tinted plas­ter over a primed sur­face with a spat­ula, leav­ing sub­tle lines and mark­ings. Then gen­tly dab a damp sea sponge over some of the wet plas­ter sur­face area to add tex­ture and soften some of the spat­ula marks. Dip the spat­ula into wa­ter and gen­tly smooth the sur­face. Let dry overnight and give the sur­face a light sand­ing. You can now en­hance the tex­ture by rag­ging on coloured glazes made from the artist’s acrylics used in the plas­ter mix. Ap­ply the glaze to the edge of the table­top. Pro­tect your painted stone sur­face with three coats of matte var­nish.

Once you have be­gun to play with paint and plas­ter, you’ll dis­cover lots of other fin­ishes and de­signs that suit ta­bles, chairs and even out­door art­work that can be hung on a fence or ex­te­rior wall. En­joy the free­dom.

Tiled table­tops have a rus­tic charm that al­ways makes Deb­bie Travis think of the kitchens in south­ern France.

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