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Sharpie Art - Design a Table

Updated on February 21, 2013
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.

© C. Calhoun 2012. All rights reserved.

Go from a drab table to a Sharpie table!
Go from a drab table to a Sharpie table! | 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
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

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.

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

Do you like to doodle?

See results

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.

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.

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!

The finished table.
The finished table. | Source

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.

Did you know you can write for HubPages? It's fun, easy and you can even make some money doing so.

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    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 2 years ago from Western NC

      Kristen - aww, thank you. :) I still have this table; it's fun to look at the designs, hehe.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Cynthia, what a clever crafty idea. I love the graffiti design. Voted up for interesting and also awesome.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 2 years ago from Western NC

      Delia-Delia - awesome! Yes, I'm wanting to do a lot more Sharpie art for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 2 years ago

      Great doodling project! Thanks for sharing. I doodle or scribble every day, guess out of frustration for not being in the mood to create my art...Stop by and check out "my Doodle and Scribble Hubpage"

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      RTalloni - hehe, "doodling" has enabled me to sit through soo many meetings, hehe. But you're absolutely right: I love thinking about it as "ordered disorder" and making sense of things. :D

      Have a wonderful day!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Delightful piece you have created! I just finished a black and white marbleized table using patio paints, but now you've started me thinking about what fun it would be to do a Sharpie project on furniture. Thanks for sharing your methodology. I usually think of doodle art as ordered disorder and I like the fact that it often reflects, for me at least, a sense of making sense even when at first glance life might seem rather crazy.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Hey starstream! Good to see ya! Thank you for your words. Yes, I always have some fun when it comes to sharpies. :) And yes, the dust mask is important. Hehe.

      That could be a saying: take time to let the paint dry! (a derivative of: take time to smell the flowers) hehe

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 3 years ago from Northern California

      I enjoyed reading this article. It demonstrates a wonderful use of original creativity plus a desire to recycle a wooden piece. Your suggestions were great. We sometimes are in such a hurry that we do not let the paint dry! The tip on wearing a dust mask is so important too!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Mary - hehe, yes, I love refurbishing old things and making them new again. :) I've even been known to find things on the side of the road and incorporate them into my house somehow, after rehabbing them. It's pure fun! Thanks for coming by. :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      What a clever idea!! I love to paint in different mediums, but I have to say, I've never used a Sharpie for the design. When I paint with acrylics, I use a Sharpie to outline the design, cause it's easier than trying to use tiny paintbrush.

      One of my favorites things to do is refinishing furniture; some people would have just thrown out this lovely old table!

      Voted up, etc. and shared.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      RHW - ahahaha. I'll make you one! ;)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      That is so cool...Cyndi do you know how good that table would look in my house? Yeah! Really good!

      I could totally do this myself but I lack one ingredient and that's the patience:) well ok then, two things I lack...I can't really draw that good.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Moonlake - hehe, I dunno...I just sort of "roll with it" - I don't know what I'm doing. I promise. :)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      How pretty I wish I could doodle like that. Love the idea and never thought of it. Voted up and pinned.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Vellur - aww, thank you! Great to see you. :)

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      WOW great work, beautiful. The table looks great after your art work on it. Awesome and voted up.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Vicki - hehe, thank you so much!

      Ytsenoh thank you. Yes, I'm rather addicted to doodling. :D

      Viveresperando - Thank you and you know what?! You just gave me a doodle idea! :D

    • viveresperando profile image

      viveresperando 4 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

      I love doodling too! Love your art! Example see my flower, giggles. loved this idea for the table, gives it so much character and just joy!

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Cyndi, what an absolutely great idea! We all doodle at one time or another, right? Very creative and imaginative. Thanks much; thumbs up!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You always have such great ideas, CC. Voted up and others. Sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Torrilynn - thank you so much! I think you might have inspired me to write another hub on Sharpie art. :D

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      cclitgirl, nice hub about using sharpies to create beautiful pieces of art .voted up.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Ktrapp - it's so fun! I love to doodle and I finally could put these skills to use. I would love to see a picture frame hub! I'll link to it when you're finished. ;)

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 4 years ago from Illinois

      What a really fun and whimsical idea! I'm definitely a doodler by nature, and have created many "works of art" while talking on the phone for a long time. I may just try this as well, but maybe on a smaller surface at first, like a picture frame or something. I love your creativity.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Newusedcarssacram - thank you so much! :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Truthfornow - the possibilities are indeed endless. :) I haven't done much more, but I have LOTS of ideas. I need to get crackin. ;)

    • newusedcarssacram profile image

      newusedcarssacram 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A

      Truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      What a neat way to dress up a boring old table. Have you done any more sharpie art? Would love to see different colors too. The possibilities are endless.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      LOL, Audra. I just got this crazy idea in my head one day and thought, well why not? Hehehe. It was really fun! :)

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      I am in like AWWWW. I am really fascinated with what you made! Are you going to sell the table? It is really cool! I am going to share and index this!!!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      TCC - aww, I would LOVE to see that hub on that bookcase! In fact, I can't WAIT to see it. Hehe. Thank you for all the votes. You're so sweet!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Beautiful stuff! I love to doodle and this is an amazing idea. I was thinking of maybe doing some doodle art on the back walls of an old bookcase. Voted beautiful, up, and awesome!!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, Glenn, you still made my day. You rock. I'm headed over to check to see if you have any "doodle" hubs. :D

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      You're welcome but I can't really take the credit. HP tends to retweet tweets on good hubs such as yours. Enjoy your day too! Thanks.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Glenn - you have made my day!! I so appreciate the shares and tweets and for coming back and letting me know about HP. I owe ya one. :) I appreciate you - have a wonderful day! Cheers!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      HubPages retweeted my tweet. You should get more traffic from that one. You can see my doodles in my carousel (temporary as I change it time to time). Yours are so much better though. I don't even come close.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Glenn - I saw the email that you shared this before I even checked HP. LOL. Thank you so much! I'm glad I could be inspiring. :D I would love to see what you create. Have fun! Cheers!

      Eiddwen - thank you. I hope you have a wonderful day, too!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Wow brilliant and so inspiring and thanks for sharing.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I got interested in your hub because I'm a doodler myself. But I never thought of using a Sharpie. I have to agree that this is so much better.

      Now I'm motivated to buy a few colors of Sharpies and see what I end up creating. I don't think I'm going to do anything as good as you though.

      You are very talented with your creations. And I like the idea of using the doodles to bring old tables back to life.

      Voted up and more...

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Docmo - I have SEEN your incredible artistic doodles. :D But, yes, now you can expand the possibilities and media upon which you work. I would LOVE to see a Pooh Bear table. LOL. Thank you for your great feedback. YOU MAKE ME SMILE! ;)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      As an inveterate doodler , I 've got acres of doodles and sketches... This amazing project has woken me up to all sorts of possibilities. I'll have to go and read the related hubs on sharpie art. Your writing as ever makes everything simple and easy to follow with ample illustrations. You are so talented! Voted up! Shared.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Rose - indeed! I have ideas for what else I might try my "doodles" on. LOL. Hubhugs!

      Glimmer Twin Fan - hey there! I definitely love doodling, LOL. I am definitely pleased. :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Those are some great doodles and a gorgeous table too!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Wow, what an amazing transformation! Thanks for showing us so many detailed photos. You could apply this concept to so many mediums and types of furniture.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      LW - I could SO see you coming up with a tattoo series on this. :) Not to mention the tables, LOL. Thank you for comin' by - it's always great to see you! :) Cheers!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      CC, very interesting and creative idea! I would have never thought about this. We actually have a few old tables laying around. This would be a creative way to give them a new look. Very cool idea CC. Voting this up, useful, and interesting. Best wishes.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Alocsin - It's not too bad! Thanks so much for stopping by! Eh, just practice some doodling and you'll get it. :) Thank you for the votes! Cheers!

      Faithful Daughter - Here's to decorating tables!! It'll be such fun! Thank you for the votes. Hubhugs!

      Faith Reaper - yes, I remember that about your son. I think when you mentioned that, it sort of helped to spark some more Sharpie ideas. :D Thanks so much for coming by!

      Suzie HQ - Oh yes! Do give it a try. Not only is it fun, it's also relaxing. Thank you so much for your feedback. Cheers!

      Bdegiulio - LOL, I think everyone has a creative streak - the trick is to find what you're good at. You just never know. :) Thanks for your feedback. Have a great day!

      Just Ask Susan - If you used to doodle all the time, then this will be a breeze for you! But, YOU just gave me an idea for an upcoming hub! LOL. I would love to see the table your sons come up with, too. Cheers!

      Tammy - now I have a HARD time believing you're not a drawer/painter. You are a master at so many different kinds of crafts. You're amazing and my hero!! I expect you to share some hand-drawn work/painting in the near future. :D Hubhugs!

      Teaches - I don't really know exactly where this idea came from, but I definitely am enjoying it. :D Now, if I could figure out a way to market it, I'd be good. LOL. Thanks so much for visiting, my friend. Hubhugs!

      TT - oh, TT, you never cease to make me SMILE! You're such an inspiration to me. Big hubhugs and more hubhugs coming your way!

      Judi Bee - you must be a teacher, LOL. Wouldn't it be funny to see what the kids would think if they saw all the artwork on your desk? Hehehe. Thanks for your feedback. Cheers!

      Teresa - hey there! Great to see you. This was definitely a fun, relaxing project. I have more ideas, too.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Awesome project CC. I really enjoy these sharpie projects. I am looking forward to the next installment.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      I was looking at some of the graffiti on the school desks last week and thinking that actually, I could take that idea and use it on my own desk. I hadn't though as far ahead as you - now I don't have to figure out what materials to use - it's a great hub!

      Voted up and pinned.

    • profile image

      TToombs08 4 years ago

      CC, it came out AMAZING! :) Great job! If you don't get that job at Craft Fail, they don't know what they're doing! This is fantastic!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      This is a great before and after project. What a great idea! You certainly have talent and are so creative. You must have a really steady hand to accomplish such intricate detailed design work. Lovely!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      That is just gorgeous and so creative. You are a great artist. I am not a drawer or painter. I think if I were to do this I would need a stencil or it would look like my 3 year old decorated it. :) Fabulous! Sharing!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love this idea. I used to doodle all the time. I even bough doodle art posters to color at one time. Your doodle art is amazing and I don 't think I'd ever be able to do something so spectacular. All three of my sons are pretty artistic when it comes to drawing and I have a table in mind that they could do this on.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very creative and very cool. My non-creative mind would never come up with such a great idea. Great Hub.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      This is so cool! Dying to give this a try - how creative and it is doodles! love it,voted up++++++ and shared:-)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Amazing creative mind you have! I love all these Sharpie art hubs. As I may have stated on one of your other Sharpie art hubs, my sons is an artist and just loves to do all sorts of art with a Sharpie. I have been saving these to give to him. This table is outstanding. Wow! Voted Way Up In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very artistically creative. I have a few small ugly tables laying around that I can put this idea to. Thanks for sharing with your readers. Voted up and beautiful.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Wow, this is something I never would have thought to do with a Sharpie, and seems easy enough for kids. The only problem I see is that it actually requires some artistic talent to execute, which I have very little of. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Bill - haha...they're just doodles. :D Aww, but you make me smile and you give me the "big head" hehehe. Thank you. Now, if I can just figure out how to market this stuff, I'll be good. LOLOL. Thanks, Big Bro. Your comment means a lot to me. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are so talented! I have no doubt you are going to be successful in a variety of mediums. I'm proud of you and amazed by your talent. Great job Cyndi!