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How to Do Decorative Art and Tole Painting, Part 2 - Recycled Items Become Art!

Updated on March 14, 2010


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Below, you will find a list of the items that you will need to complete this project. This isn't a hard project to do, but it will take some time, because of the drying time involved.

First of all, these directions can actually be used for pretty much any project you want to do on wood. So, the things you need to gather up first are:

Wooden Cookie Jar or Other Wood Object

Paint brushes (see below)

Design Transfer Paper

Transfer Pencil

Acrylic Decorative Paints

Clear Sealing Varnish

1. First step is to stain the wood, everywhere except where the picture will be. Use masking tape to section off the area where you are going to paint your picture on the jar. Round and flat paint brushes, in the sizes appropriate for the project, are what you will need. Mine are made of a synthetic material by Loew-Cornell© (the flat ones), and work very well. The round ones are made of sable and are made by Royal©. To varnish or stain the wood, I used a larger brush with the stain. I used the same brush for the clear sealer I put on over the entire cookie jar, after everything was dry.

2. You will also need some transfer paper and a red transfer pencil to put your design on the cookie jar(found at Hobby Lobby, online, or at a MJ Designs or Art Supply Store. This paper also will transfer with a warm iron onto fabric!). First, trace the design in regular pencil. Then flip the paper over and trace over the design with the red transfer pencil. After doing that, tape the design to the jar in the correct place, with the red pencil side against the wood. Go over the lines again, with a lot of pressure, and your design should transfer from the paper onto the wood. Fill in any spots that didn't transfer well enough. Be sure (at least in this case) to paint in the background of the design, making it like it was a canvas to paint on.

3. Once you have your design transferred, paint in your background, matching it to your color scheme, or using a color that will make your design pop out at you. Use acrylic, decorative paints for this. After painting in the design, then start and finish the design, still using the acrylic, decorative paint colors. Be sure to do shading and lights and darks, to really bring out the design. This particular piece could have used some more work, but it's too late now-it's already been coated with clear sealer.

4. Once your stain and design on the cookie jar are how you like them, then you can cover the entire outside with a clear, sealing varnish. This will both protect your paint, and really bring out the depth of your painting. Make SURE the design is exactly how you want it before doing this, as you can't go back after this step! After sealing with the varnish, let the cookie jar dry for about 24-48 hours and you are finished!

This same process works for any wooden item you decide to paint. It also works well with metal. If you can't sketch, just use the pattern transfer paper and trace it! One note-on flat, wooden objects, you can even use the "heat transfer" method of transferring your design using your iron on a low heat setting! The transfer pencil has a "waxy" texture and will transfer onto the wood just like it would on to fabric!!

Stained and Tole Painted Wooden Cookie Jar

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Finishing up

Once you have it all painted and sealed with the varnish, let it sit somewhere where it can dry and not be disturbed. Don't touch or it will mess up the sealant! Don't put a fan blowing on it, as dust or fibers can be blown on it and stick.

Clean your acrylic paint brushes in a bit of mild dish soap and warm water, reshaping with your fingers afterwards. The brush you used with the stain and varnish will have to be cleaned with paint thinner or turpentine (odorless). Reshape with fingers as well. Always take good care of your brushes, as they aren't cheap, and you want them to last as long as possible! Always store brushes with the handle side down and the bristles up, so they won't lose their shape.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your informative hub. I have learned so much from it. I loved reading it.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you! I hope to introduce more people to decorative art. It's not all that hard to do!


      Laura T.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great ideas - when I used to have time in my life, I would experiment with all kinds of crafts. Not so much anymore. Great Hub.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks so much! You should get back to crafting if you can squeeze it in-my kids were young when I started and it sure helped me make some extra money along the way, plus I saved money on gifts.

      Laura T.

    • profile image

      Ben 6 years ago

      Tole painting is a great way to pass the days away and a great hobby!

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 6 years ago from Central Texas


      It certainly is! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Laura T.

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