The Art of Darkness

Decoupage TV Trays

March 14th, 2007 by Cobwebs

I like to give a pair of hand-decorated TV trays as a wedding gift, but in case you don’t want to creep out the bride you can keep these for your ownself.


  • Wooden TV tray or breakfast tray
  • Fine-grain sandpaper
  • Black gloss enamel spray paint
  • Decoupage medium (such as Mod Podge)
  • Sponge brush
  • Paper for decoration. This can be interesting wrapping paper, pictures cut from magazines, or photocopied/printed artwork. Tarot cards might be fun (use color photos; real cards are too thick), or one of the Durer woodcuts. The Holbein Alphabet of Death is nice, too, and gives you the option of spelling out words.
  • Craft paint – black, red, silver (optional)
  • Silver metallic finish (such as Rub ‘n Buff) (optional)

  1. If the tray has a glossy finish, go over it lightly with the sandpaper to roughen it a bit and make sure the paint and decoupage will stick. Wipe down carefully to remove all the dust (a tack cloth works well for this).
  2. Working in a well-ventilated area, spray-paint the tray black. Dry overnight.
  3. Carefully cut out the images you wish to use. If using black-and-white drawings, hand-color portions of the picture if desired.
  4. Lay out the images in the design you want. Once they’re gummy they’re hard to reposition, so make sure you’re satisfied with the arrangement.
  5. Pour some decoupage medium into a shallow container (a disposable aluminum pie pan works well), and use the sponge brush to paint the back of one paper piece with the medium. Lay the paper down in position on the tray, and lightly brush the front of it with more decoupage medium. Repeat for all paper items, then brush a light coat of the medium over the whole design. Let dry, then add one more coat of the decoupage medium.
  6. Use your fingers to accent the edges of the tray with the silver metallic finish.


  • If desired, you can hand-paint additional detail with the craft paint (or use a rubber stamp dipped in the paint) and let dry before adding the final coat of decoupage medium. This works best for lap trays with a glass or plexiglas insert, since you don’t have to worry about the paint cracking through use.
  • If the tray will see heavy use, spray it with a clear waterproof sealant to keep liquid from damaging your art.

Viola! A unique item that is definitely more Edward Gorey than Eddie Bauer.

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