Paint an Unfinished Toy Doll Cradle
Doll Cradles for Little Girls
Even tiny girls enjoy having their own doll babies to play with in their make believe games. Adding a one-of-a-kind doll cradle to the mix enriches the experience they have when playing with their dolls. By copying their mommies' behaviors they can learn skills and concepts that help them grow up with confidence.
The cradle needs to be age appropriate, however. My first hub on painting a doll cradle includes an example of how to build a wood cradle for a toddler’s play time. It's not too tipsy and it rocks just enough. It is stable so it can also be turned over and used as a little bench.
The directions for making it are easy, only requiring simple supplies and a few tools (learn how in Build and Paint a Toy Cradle) but you’ll see some unfinished doll cradles for sale below. Either way, creating a painted design especially for a little girl you love is delightful stuff.
My husband’s pattern gave me plentiful surfaces to splish-splash my paint on and thinking about the smiles our granddaughters would have as they opened their birthday presents was quite motivating. Happy colors in artful designs made for a fun-to-paint project. Hope you enjoy seeing the process of this second one!
Painting a Toy Doll Cradle
First, always consider safety issues, especially if you are working with or around children. Tool manufacturers, extension service programs, and even project supply stores offer information about being safe when building with wood and painting it.
To begin panting a wood project, a smooth surface is needed. A solid sanding of the raw piece to round off any sharp corners is important, then a light sanding will give a good surface for primer. After primer is applied, another light sanding provides a fine finish for applying paint.
Primer shouldn't be skipped. Bare wood needs to be primed to prevent any resins it contains from bleeding through your paint job and to prevent paint from sinking into the wood as the grain rises over time, ruining your design's effect.
Not priming results in a subpar finished project that will have to be refinished before long. I have had great success using products like Glidden brand's Gripper primer, as well as Kilz and Valspar primers. However, it's amazing to see the new products now on the market. You might like to do some research on them before starting your project.
Though getting to the pleasurable part of painting is a process, making sure the preparation for it is sound means that the piece will last. Sanding and priming are important steps and care should be given to doing them. Once they are complete, the fun starts!
Follow the Pictures to See this Project from Start to Finish:
After putting two coats of a pale green acrylic on the cradle it needed one more light sanding for a nice smooth finish, see photo 1 below.
Painting a Toy Doll CradleClick thumbnail to view full-size
By the time the cradle is ready for painting, the design and colors should be settled. I chose simple elements with bright colors for this one.
Cutting edges of paper strips (a great use for junk mail) into varying curves (see photo 2) to use as a guide for evenly spaced, shapely lines was an easy way to make bases for flowering vines.
Free handing the drawing and painting of tendrils, leaves and flowers was simple work as shown in progressive photos 3-9.
While the vine design on the cradle's sides dried, I measured and cut out 2 paper flowers--one large size for the outside ends, and one slightly smaller size for the inside ends.
Making sure to turn the patterns as I outlined them onto the ends so that each drawn flower was in a different position, I did not outline them exactly, but only used the pattern as a guide to help me size the flowers. Rotating the patterns also helped give a random look to the design.
Once the flower's outlines were on I filled them in with a glossy white base color. Then I use the primary colors from the sides to paint inside the white bases, leaving a bit of white around the edges--see photos 10-13.
Photograph 14 shows the highlights created with coordinating colors, as well as the rocker design across the bottom edge of the ends. Note the same details in pictures 15 and 16.
Sponging on layers of white glaze gave dimension to the painted design--see photos 17-19.
I then added a surprise to the bottom. See photograph 20 for the brightest butterfly ever!
Once the glaze dried (always follow manufacturers' instructions) a clear polyurethane was applied in several coats to give the cradle a hard protective finish and that's all there was to it!
Getting the Gift Ready for a Tiny Girl
I had high hopes that the little girl this cradle was intended for would find it intact on its arrival. Complete with a hand made blanket, pillow and pad under a smiling baby, I tucked bubble wrap around the doll and then wrapped the cradle's center with plastic wrap. Birthday paper around the whole was a trick, but doable in small pieces.
After reinforcing the box it was to be mailed in we taped it up and sent it to Alaska with a prayer for safe passage. Sound like a lot of trouble? I promise you, it was worth it. Video Chat allowed us to see her initial response and there are no words for the delight it gave us.
All the toys in all the toy stores in the world could not have replaced the scene that unfolded before us as she pulled back the blanket and reached in for the doll, then set up the cradle in her bedroom so she could put her new doll to sleep. While we do purchase gifts for our grandchildren, buying toys definitely is not all it's cracked up to be!
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