This year for Christmas I made a tray for my brother’s fiance. I like making gifts for people who appreciate the thought and knew that Emilie would.
I got the idea from Mark Mantano’s The Big Ass Book of Crafts. The book is chock full of fun crafts and DIY for a unique home and most are done on a limited budget which is a bonus.
The tray features the four states Emilie and my brother have lived in together: Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Each state then has a small star roughly in the city or town they lived in. I made a giant C & E for the center.
The states were a little tricky to cut out seeing as how they all border water in some way and therefore have very squiggly sides. I started by finding an outline of the state online and printing them out roughly the same size. Obviously, MA is not as large as LA or IL in real life but I wasn’t going for scale. I then cut the states out and traced them on the back of the decorative paper where I once again cut them out. The paper I picked as the decorative paper was rather thick and if I had thought about the squiggles I would have gone with something a little thinner.
For the lettering I looked up cursive letters in different fonts and copied them from sight. The ampersand was a bit of a pain but I finally got it down.
I laid everything out the way I wanted to and glued it to the background paper.
Then it was time to start with the frame. I purchased a frame from TJ Max and spray painted it black. Olive was very interested in this and I had to hold her back with one hand while I sprayed with the other. I used a gloss finish. The glass in the frame was glued in so I had to cover the glass with newspaper and tape but it worked out fine.
The hardest part in all of this was attaching the handles. I purchased handles at Home Depot that screwed in the front (that’s what she said!). I thought I would just be able to screw them in by hand but all I did was scratch the paint. This is where my mom stepped in. She thought we could just drill it but I was worried about the frame cracking. So, on Christmas Eve, she went to a local hardware store and was given instructions about how to drill without cracking the frame. First, you put masking tape down where you are going to drill. Then, you drill with the smallest bit. Lastly, when you screw in the screw, dip it in soap before you start. We hunkered down in the basement followed these steps and there was no cracking!
All there was left to do was seal the frame against the glass and glue felt on the back. The tray isn’t completely waterproof but the seal will help to prevent spills and the frame still had the clips on the back to I hot glued felt on the back to keep it from scratching tables and other surfaces.
It dried overnight and I gave it to Emilie first thing on Christmas morning. She loved it and said she would use it for their engagement party back home.