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How to Do Decorative Art and Tole Painting, Part 1 - Recycled Items Become Art!

Updated on March 18, 2010

Decorative Art or Tole Painting - Dressing Things Up!

Decorative Art or Tole Painting is a wonderful way to both coordinate a theme in your home, and have a wonderful and creative hobby! It can also help you add to your income if you are talented enough, which is something we can all use! You don't have to be super-talented to do this, although the end results appear very difficult. It is really much easier than you think it is, once you get started. If you have always wanted to be "an artist" and thought you didn't have the talent, think again! If you can trace a pattern, you can do Tole Painting!!

The definition of this type of painting is basically where you take something "useful or functional" (in this case a cookie jar) and paint it in a decorative manner to be used in your, or someone else's home or lifestyle. Although this cookie jar is over 20 years old, it is a good representation of tole painting for this hub. Tole or decorative painting also includes painting on metal, fabric, clothing, glass, wood, and any other surface that paint will adhere to. The creativity functional value of these items is endless. You become almost a meld of interior decorator, stylist and artist if you really get involved in it.

When approaching tole or decorative art, you first need to decide a theme, as well as which room or objects you want to coordinate. In this particular case, we lived in a country home, and I mostly just liked the design. My children were young, and I had a ceramic cookie jar that I was afraif they would end up breaking, so I found this wooden jar, with no stain or any decoration on it, and decided to dress it up with a decorative art design. There are MANY great websites for unpainted wood items to paint, and if you click on this link - "Handcraft - The Painter's Source" you will find all kinds of boxes, cookie jars, canisters, and so much more that I could shop there and spend a small fortune !! They also carry supplies, as well as instructional books (almost all of them have the patterns included) and DVD's. This is a wonderful hobby for those who would love to learn to paint, like having a hobby, and want to make handmade gifts for holidays or even to make extra money! I made thousands of dollars selling my items when I was really working, and am beginning to start again. If I turned this hobby into a real money making opportunity for many years, so can you! All it takes is some patience and learning a new technique of painting. I am in the process of getting back into it after many years off due to health problems. I had my own business both from home and a custom artwork shop for years, back in the late 1980s and 1990s, and even now, when i see customers from those years, the first thing they ask is if I am painting now.

The cookie jar you see is one of my first pieces, and it is funny now to look at it now and see the mistakes I made when painting it! The varnish I used back then has yellowed, so be sure to use a good quality varnish to finish your products...



A Tole or Decorative Art Painted Wooden Cookie Jar

View 1 of wooden cookie jar, decorative or tole painting with dark wood stain and varnish.
View 1 of wooden cookie jar, decorative or tole painting with dark wood stain and varnish.
View 2
View 2
View 3
View 3

Getting Started...

if you decide to take up this hobby, you are really going to need to get a couple of magazines, books or even a subscription to a Decorative Arts or Tole Painting Magazine or some instructional DVD's. These come with instructions and patterns to get you started. After you have been at it awhile, you may get to the point where you draw your own patterns. You will also need a lot of colors of acrylic paint, made by "Apple Barrel Color" or one of the great companies that makes decorative style acrylics. Go to your local large hobby and craft supply store, or purchase them online. Be sure to get a good set of brushes (the directions of your project should tell you the type and size of the brush you need, such as a flat, #4), along with a plastic palette for your paint mixing. You will learn to "double load" your brush, where you get two shades of paint on the same brush for a brush stroke. Sounds hard, but it isn't, so don't panic!

After you have gotten past the beginner stage, you can do your own original projects, incorporating your own designs in the colors you choose. This hobby is addicting, and you will start wanting to paint on every surface in your home, and if you get the "bug" bad, it could even extend to your clothing! I used to paint "wearable art", such as T-Shirts, Denim jackets, tote and gym bags and things like that. Just think of the gifts you could customize for holidays if you begin now! Let your imagination run wild, and start your Christmas gifts early! In the next hub, I will tell you how to start and finish this cookie jar. Even of you don't use this design, the process is the same, so watch for upcoming projects and designs to come your way! Let's have some fun and learn a new hobby!


Tole and Decorative Painting Supplies

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    • Laura Thykeson profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Thykeson 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      James Agbogun,

      Thanks for your comment. All you need is a good set of directions, a pattern you can go by, and the supplies that you need for a certain project. You will be creating in no time!

      Thanks again,

      Laura T.

    • James Agbogun profile image

      James Agbogun 

      8 years ago

      Am very interested in a possibility of making beautiful hand made product. But if i can learn is another question.

    • Laura Thykeson profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Thykeson 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      hello, hello:

      thank you for stopping by, and I am glad you are enjoying the hubs. i have a huge amount of ideas, and if you are interested in following a project, please email me through the link on my profile and I will help you if you need it. Keep an eye out for more progress on the painting, plus many other projects I will be doing in the future. Once I get started, I am overrun with ideas, and have to make lists of all of them!

      Laura T.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      I am glad I have found you, I love all these handmade articels. Thank you for a great hub and for your lovely message on my Fan Mail

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      I am so glad I have found you. I love all these handmaking article. Thank you so much for a great hub.

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