Sharpie Art - Design a Table
We had a table that had been sitting around for years. My husband built it when we needed more kitchen space in an old house. We have since moved, but this table has held the microwave, a radio and other objects throughout its existence. It was never finished, however.
I sat there, staring at it. Like a lightbulb illuminating above my head, I suddenly erupted with the idea to decorate this table using Sharpies.
I had no idea what I was getting into, but I think it’s one of the neatest projects I’ve undertaken. Doing art with Sharpies is a wonderful way to create unique designs.
If you decide to try this yourself, I’ll walk you through the process. It’s fun, but you’ll need a little patience.
© C. Calhoun 2012. All rights reserved.
What You'll Need For Your Sharpie Design
- An old table (or a new one)
- Gritty sandpaper
- A hand-held sander
- Dust mask
- Eye protection
- Black Sharpie markers
- A design - whether you draw it, or even just an idea
- Spray-on acrylic sealer
- Clear polyurethane
Instructions for a Great Sharpie Art Table
Depending on the type of table you get, you might need to sand off the old finish.
Since the table I used was unstained, I didn’t have to worry about taking the old finish off, but I did need to sand off dirt and mild stains from years of use and to take off layers of wood putty.
I used a hand-held sander. I highly recommend using one, because sanding takes a long time and will take much longer if you do it by hand. I used about two sheets of sandpaper, total.
When you’re sanding, be sure to wear eye-protection and a dust mask in a well-ventilated area. The sand seems to float in the air and get on everything.
I think my hair had an extra coat of sand for days after I finished sanding the table!
Note that a table has a lot of nooks and crannies. Each leg has four sides, then there’s the top of the table, the sides, the parts underneath and all that wood putty!
That's a lot of surface area. It took about 4 ½ hours to get all the sanding done. I had thoroughly exfoliated my hands in the process, too.
After sanding, I used a slightly damp cloth to get the sand particles off, and let it dry. That only took a few minutes.
I was ready to begin with the Sharpies – the most exciting part!
Most of the time, when I’m going to do a project like this, I spend time drawing it out in a notebook. Or, I’ll practice on paper or other items beforehand.
Do you like to doodle?
Put Your Doodling to Good Use
But, I had another idea.
You may be the sort of person that regularly doodled in your notebooks while listening to a lecture in school or in a meeting. I always did my best to listen, but I always wanted to give my hands something to do.
I admit, sometimes my doodles would become these little elaborate pieces of art – and I got pretty good at it.
If not, you might want to practice some doodles before drawing on the table.
As I began, I had no idea what I was going to draw. I just pretended to doodle while listening…to NPR. I started out with some abstract flowers. Then I added lines and geometric shapes.
Even when I’m painting, my favorite type of thing is rendering geometric shapes. I don’t know if that’s just my style or preferred thing to do, but I often love the way the designs turn out.
In any case, after I finished a flower, I would start drawing more triangles, lines, or circles. I used the different Sharpies to create different thicknesses in the lines or to fill in the shapes. Sometimes, I would make shapes within the shapes.
I did make mistakes while drawing, but I just incorporated them into the overall design. I feel like my little mistakes actually helped to make the design more interesting. Can you spot any?
It took me the better part of 8 hours to draw everything in. Once I finished the top part of the table, I drew another abstract flower on the bottom shelf. I finished my design off by drawing double-circles on the sides underneath the tabletop.
Finish Off Your Design
Once I completed all that, I didn’t want to just go over my design with straight polyurethane.
I was afraid that the solvents in the polyurethane would smear the Sharpie marks when I went over them with a paintbrush. They may not have smeared, but I didn’t want to take the risk after all that work.
I grabbed a spray-can of acrylic sealer and gently sprayed over my entire design. I let that dry for 24 hours. The sealer definitely protected the Sharpie marks so that when I finally coated over the table with polyurethane, it was an easy, worry-free process.
I used a wide paintbrush when I coated the table in its entirety. I let it dry another 24 hours before applying a second coat to the top of the table. I wanted the top to be extra-protected, since that is the part that will get used the most.
I let the table dry for 2 more days and now, it’s back in use in my house.
The design looks a little graffiti-like, but I’m pleased with it. It also gave me a lot more ideas for future projects. Stay tuned!
About the Author
Cyndi is a freelance writer, photographer, artist and teacher. She loves studying language, arts and culture and sharing that knowledge with others.
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