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Sharpie Art - Design a Table

Updated on January 17, 2018
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Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

Sharpie art, done with doodles.
Sharpie art, done with doodles. | Source

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.

After painting an old window and doing another window with sharpies to create stained glass, it wasn’t much of a stretch to use the same Sharpies in another one of my decorating projects.

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.

Go from a drab table to a Sharpie table!
Go from a drab table to a Sharpie table! | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is what the table looked like before.  It's rather drab and sad.This is the top of the table, and it's got some dirt and light stains from using it without staining the wood first.This hand-held sander saved me LOTS of time.Now, the table is ready for some Sharpie art!Here is my collection of black Sharpies of varying thickness.
This is what the table looked like before.  It's rather drab and sad.
This is what the table looked like before. It's rather drab and sad. | Source
This is the top of the table, and it's got some dirt and light stains from using it without staining the wood first.
This is the top of the table, and it's got some dirt and light stains from using it without staining the wood first. | Source
This hand-held sander saved me LOTS of time.
This hand-held sander saved me LOTS of time. | Source
Now, the table is ready for some Sharpie art!
Now, the table is ready for some Sharpie art! | Source
Here is my collection of black Sharpies of varying thickness.
Here is my collection of black Sharpies of varying thickness. | Source

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
  • Paintbrush

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I started with a flower, and then started adding shapes and dots.From the flower, I began adding more lines and designs.I varied up the shapes and repeated them in different ways.Here's the finished tabletop with all the Sharpie art.This is the abstract Sharpie flower on the bottom shelf.Here's a view of the entire design from above.
I started with a flower, and then started adding shapes and dots.
I started with a flower, and then started adding shapes and dots. | Source
From the flower, I began adding more lines and designs.
From the flower, I began adding more lines and designs. | Source
I varied up the shapes and repeated them in different ways.
I varied up the shapes and repeated them in different ways. | Source
Here's the finished tabletop with all the Sharpie art.
Here's the finished tabletop with all the Sharpie art. | Source
This is the abstract Sharpie flower on the bottom shelf.
This is the abstract Sharpie flower on the bottom shelf. | Source
Here's a view of the entire design from above.
Here's a view of the entire design from above. | Source

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.

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 the radio. 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.

Do you like to doodle?

See results
A close up of the Sharpie art design.
A close up of the Sharpie art design. | Source

Finish Off Your Design

Once I completed all that, I didn’t want to just go over my design with straight polyurethane. However, 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.

The finished table.
The finished table. | Source

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

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