a new/old labrador tray

A while ago a friend asked me to make her a tray featuring labradors. I considered her request and came up with the idea of doing a silhouette of a lab, super-imposed on a star in red, yellow and black. Something that would look like an old fuel sign.

I started by choosing a frame I thought would make a nice tray. I then cut a piece of plywood to fit into the frame I’d painted bright red.

I printed out my design on 2 sheets of A4 paper and (using the charcoal on the back method) traced it onto the plywood.

I painted the dog and background using my acrylic artist paints. I loved the natural colour of the plywood so I decided to leave the star unpainted rather than do it in yellow.

When the paint was dry I gave it a sand to make it look old and worn. I tried it in the red frame and didn’t really like it. There is such as thing as too much red.

So back to the drawing board. I cut some pieces of tassie oak I’d gotten for free from the hardware store – they were packers in pallets of products they were tossing out.

I did the steel wool in vinegar trick – I planned to age them with the vinegar solution then paint them and scuff them up to expose the aged timber.

Well… something went wrong. I have no idea what or why, but the wood turned black as soon as i painted the vinegar on it!

You can still see the grain, but its like I used black stain instead of vinegar. Wierd.

However, in my “go with the flow, all accidents are happy little adventures” frame of mind I decided to go with it and make it work.

I painted the bottom of the plywood grey and painted a bit of the vinegar solution over the sanded areas to age it. It went black too. But it works for me. It looks old and abused.

Then I made my first mistake.

I painted some of the vinegar on the sanded red areas. It left distinct stains.


Go with the flow. Its all part of the adventure, right?

I stained the entire red area with vinegar to try to smooth it out. The blackness bled into the star.

Ooops again.

I sanded it out, did a bit more sanding, then decided it was good to go. Its just a bit more ‘abused’ than it was before.

Since this is a tray, and trays are used to carry drinks and food, I gave it a coat of estapol for protection. That’s causing the shine in the photos. Please look beyond that. I’m sure some use will take care of that.

I found a couple of old bent handles I had in my collection – they’d been removed from a couple of drawers I’d used in another project.

I used some pre-rusted washers under the handles when screwing them in place, cause the smallest black screws I had were a tad too long. Didn’t want the pointy end of the screws sticking out on the inside of the tray!

It worked. I actually love the little rusty outline around the handles.

The photos are giving the black a rather blue tinge which isn’t there in real life. Its come up quite good. I hope my friend likes it… Do you friend?

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2 thoughts on “a new/old labrador tray

  1. I love this. When you said an old fuel sign, it makes sense! I does look like an old fuel sign! It reminds me of a cross between Texaco (star, if I remember correctly) and Mac Trucks (but, that would be a bull dog! lol) Love it!


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