Kristi's Studio

How To Make A Table For Creating Fluid Acrylic Painting (To Keep The Mess Contained!)

I took a couple of hours yesterday and made a table that I can use specifically to do fluid acrylic paintings. I didn’t really do this project to share on the blog, but as I started on it, I thought, “I might want to take pictures just in case.” Then when I finished it, I thought, “Yep, I need to share this.”

Here’s the deal. Y’all know that I’ve been wanting to focus more of my free time on art of various forms, and one of the most relaxing things I’ve found is fluid acrylic painting. That’s the method I used to create the artwork that is in my entryway.

You can read more specifics about those paintings here, and if you want to see what the heck this whole fluid acrylic painting thing is, you can check out two of my favorite YouTube fluid acrylic artists, MelyD and Annemarie Ridderhof.

I know that as I start doing these paintings, and probably sharing some videos of the process, many of you are going to say to yourself, “Oh, that looks like so much fun! I want to try it!” So you’ll spread out your dropcloths, or perhaps even head outdoors where you can be really messy, and give it a try. For some of you, that one creation will be enough. But at least a handful of you will enjoy it so much that you’ll want to make more, but you’ll say to yourselves, “It’s just so messy, and so much trouble to create a protected area, so I probably won’t make more.”

That’s actually been my own thought process after making those paintings for my entryway, only I didn’t use drop cloths. I worked on those in the studio, and put my “canvases” on a full sheet of plywood (as in, a full 4 feet by 8 feet), thinking that would be plenty of space to catch any runoff. It wasn’t. The paint ran off of the plywood and onto the floor. No worries for me since my studio only has a plywood subfloor right now. But obviously when the actual flooring is in, I’d need a better setup so that won’t happen again.

So I designed this table that I think will work to keep the majority of the acrylic paint mess contained. And for the three to five of you who I know will enjoy this as much as I do, and who will want to make more and need an easy way to contain the mess, I thought I’d pass along my table design. It’s nothing pretty, but it doesn’t need to be, right? As long as it does the job, I’ll be happy!

I didn’t want my table to be huge, so I decided that 2 feet by 4 feet is plenty of space, at least for now. So I purchased one 3/4-inch particle board panel from Home Depot. They have them already cut to 2 feet by 4 feet. And then I also purchased a piece of marker board (a.k.a., dry erase board, or whiteboard). It was in the same section, and also already cut to the right dimensions. Using contact cement, I adhered the marker board to the top of the particle board.

I wanted to use the marker board because of its super glossy and slick surface. I figured that acrylic paint won’t easily stick to that surface, so it would be easy to peel or scrape off the paint build up as needed.

While that was drying, I prepared the long sides of the table. I cut two pieces of 1-inch lumber to 48 inches long. Then I measured two inches from one edge and drew a line. On that line, I marked every three inches, and then used my 1/2-inch drill bit to drill a hole at each mark.

Evidently my drill bit has issues. 😀 It didn’t make the cleanest holes ever, but it’s fine for my purposes. I’m not making furniture here.

Then I ran the boards through my table saw, set at 2-inches so that it would cut along the line that I drew, leaving half circles every three inches.

I cleaned those up with a piece of rolled up sandpaper, but if you happen to have a Dremel (or other rotary tool) with one of those barrel-shaped sandpaper attachments, that would work much better than sanding by hand. I actually have a Dremel, but I never use it, so I forget that I have it. 😀 I sanded all of these by hand before I remembered that I could have used that and made the process much quicker and easier. Oh well.

With the holes sanded, I attached the pieces to the sides of the particle board/marker board base using wood glue and 1.5-inch 16-gauge nails.

And then I cut pieces for the ends and attached those in the same way. These didn’t need the holes drilled in them, and I didn’t bother mitering the corners since whole thing is utilitarian and doesn’t need to look pretty.

And the final step was to cut some 1/2-inch dowel rods, which I cut to 26.5 inches long, and place them into the grooves on the long sides.

I left the dowel rods loose so that they can be removed and make cleaning the excess paint out of the bottom of the tray much easier.

And that’s it! I’ll use this a few times and see if any modifications need to be made. The only thing that might need to be added is caulk around the edges where the sides meet the base. I’m hoping that the thick bead of wood glue that I used all the way around is enough to create a seal in that joint, but it’s very possible that caulk may need to be added if the glue didn’t seal it completely. I’ll test it out and add more info to this post if that modification needs to be made.

But other than that, I think this will work out just fine for making small to medium-sized paintings. Obviously it’s not nearly large enough for doing a huge triptych like the one I have in my entryway, so if I get an urge to do something that large in the future, I’ll still have to drape a section of my studio all Dexter-like to contain the mess. But I feel pretty sure that this will work for most of what I want to do.

Now this doesn’t mean that I won’t use drop cloths. I’ll still spread out some plastic just in case (well, maybe not now 😀 , but definitely after my flooring is in). But at least all of the runoff will be contained, and I won’t be relying on dropcloths to catch puddles of acrylic paint. That will be the job of the table, and the dropcloths will just catch any small splatters that get away.

Hopefully later this week I can show y’all the table in use. I’m telling you, this post will come in handy for about three to five of you. 🙂

UPDATE:

I got a chance to use my table, and it worked out great! You can see how it went in this post. But as suspected, there are some modifications I’d suggest.

The main modification I’d suggest is to make the back and sides higher. I’d use a 1″ x 8″ piece of lumber for the back side of the table, and I’d drill the holes at the 2-inch mark just like I did for the front. But instead of ripping the board down the center of the holes with the table saw, I’d just leave it in one piece and attach it. That would give a tall “wall” on the back side of the table to prevent splatters when I use my air blow gun to move the paint around. I’d also use the same size lumber for the side walls of the table (with no holes drilled, obviously) for more splatter protection. So the table would still have the lower piece on the front (i.e., the side you work from), but the sides and back would be taller.

The other modification that I would make is to actually attach the two outer dowel rods to the table using wood glue and a nail through each end, and then use something like a huge rubber band or a long piece of narrow elastic wrapped around the two end dowel rods and overlapping all of the other dowels just to keep them in place better during use. This would still allow the dowels to be easily removed when needed.

Other than that, the table worked out great! I’m excited to get quite a bit of use out of it!



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32 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Pam
    May 15, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Hi Kristi, this isn’t a comment on the post, but rather a small detail on your “about me” section at the bottom of your page. You might want to change your statement of living arrangements to your new puppie’s name instead of Boo. I know it’s a small detail, but it just caught my eye! By the way, I love the thought of you selling your art. I don’t believe you have to go to “school” to be an artist. Some people are born with talent. Don’t negate that talent, embrace it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharon C
    May 15, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Absolutely genius!!!! You should have this table branded and sell them Kristi……..like quickly!!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barb Hass
    May 15, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Kristi;

    Love the table. I would have to add something to hold the dowel rods in place for storing vertically. Maybe just a slim piece of trim that you could put on for storage and remove when using the table.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      May 15, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Oh, that’s brilliant! Actually, the part of the side pieces that I sliced off with my table saw could be saved and attached with some sort of tiny hinge on one end and some sort of something (like a suitcase closure type of thing) on the other end to keep it closed. The it could still be easily lifted off for removal and cleaning, and placed back for use or for storage.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Sewducky
      May 15, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      I was going to suggest find a way to fix two of the dowels and the rest of them can tuck under (inside the tray), but your suggestion seems much better for a quick set-up and keeps them from falling out accidentally.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Andrea
    May 15, 2018 at 10:34 am

    ooooh… what timing. I am definitely that 3-5 people. I’ve been hoarding the supplies, watching tons of videos on YT and waiting for the right mood to attack this type of painting.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carol Fraley
    May 15, 2018 at 10:47 am

    I seem to remember that the Dremel was your favorite tool at one time. Funny to hear that you don’t even remember having it now.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      May 15, 2018 at 10:57 am

      That’s the Dremel Multi Max, which is an oscillating tool. I couldn’t live without that one. I use it all the time.

      The one I don’t use is the original Dremel rotary tool. I haven’t used that in probably ten years.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Betsy
        May 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm

        A million year ago I worked for podiatrists. Part of my job was to file patients’ thick toenails using a sandpaper attachment on a Dremel rotary.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Guerrina
    May 15, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Love this! I really want to try to make some!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deb
    May 15, 2018 at 11:15 am

    The drips you scrape will make great skins. Many uses for those.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Adele
      May 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Can you elaborate?

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        CathyR
        May 15, 2018 at 12:46 pm

        In my first pour class the teacher let us use cheap flexible cutting boards from the dollar store. Slick side up, we scraped the paint when dry and she handed out little lockets that open. Some of the “ skins” were more interesting than the canvases! You cut to fit and voila! Lovely homemade jewlery❤️❤️

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kathy from Tennessee
    May 15, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Laughing out loud at your Dexter reference! I tried the paint pouring about 5 times and got one good result and was DONE. Too messy for me. But I love yours!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jessica
    May 15, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you! I am one of the 3-5!! I have wanting to try this for some time. I feel like it would be so fun and calming to do. Bathroom artwork here I come!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheila F.
    May 15, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Ohhh, I can’t wait to show this to my husband. He dies fluid painting. He will love this! Thanks!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lizabet Nix
    May 15, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    (Waving hand in the air enthusiastically!)

    ME! ME! I want to be one of the 3 to 5 people!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sue
    May 15, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    You could market this table for all sorts of messy crafts. It appears to be easy clean up and small enough to put fold up legs on it or set it aside in the craft room. Genius design.

    I can’t wait to see your pieces that you make – so pretty!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Aimee
    May 15, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    I am curious why you do these painting on MDF and not on an actual painting canvas. Is there a reason for that or is it just your preference?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elle
    May 15, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    I love reading your posts. However, this new video thing that you and many bloggers are using is very distracting. It prevents me from reading some of the text because it can’t be minimized. I would love for it to disappear!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Margie E
    May 15, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    I love this! I can see another use would for pouring resin to coat projects and other drippy things. Thank you, this one goes in my to do list.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Allison @ House of Hepworths
    May 15, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    OMG your paintings are beautiful. You never cease to amaze me with the talent you have.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sherry
    May 15, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Just slip a black plastic garbage bag under the dowels before using the table. Paint doesn’t stick to it and the skins are easy to simply peel off. Having done many poured paintings it would be much simpler if you screwed a piece of trim on the long sides and screw the dowels into it. Then you can simply lift up all the dowels at one time to get at the paint puddles underneath. You can get bonus paintings by dipping canvases or coasters into the puddles. Even simpler would be to use an old oven or fridge wire shelf and sit it on top of the frame instead of dowels. An extra bonus is you can lift the wire shelving off, paintings and all, to set aside to dry. Put another shelf on the frame and you are good to go again. Bet you can’t make just one. Lol.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ali
    May 15, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Have you ever framed a bathroom mirror that is currently just glued to the wall? I have space on the top and sides where I would prefer the frame sit as far on the edge of the mirror as possible if that makes sense. Any hints on building an easy mirror….long that covers a double sink vanity.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susie
    May 16, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    I can’t wait to see this thing “in action” because I don’t have a clue how it works! Lol!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chris
    May 21, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Loved the art from today’s post. Following up on your modifications, did the dowel rods slide from the holes or is it that they lift up out of the holes? If they lift, then I’d suggest making 3 of the boards with holes drilled then cut in half and using one of them to slot down over the top of the dowels and prevent them from flipping up.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      May 21, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      The dowels actually worked just fine while doing the pours. The only issue I had was when I did one painting, decided I didn’t like it, and tried to scrape the paint off and then wipe the MDF board down with some paper towels so that I could start over. That did cause a couple of dowels to shift and come out of their slots. But it was fine just for pouring the paintings. I don’t think I would want any additional height at all on the side that I stand on, though. That’s why I suggested a big rubber band or piece of elastic rather than something more substantial that sits on top of the dowels and holds them down. Even adding an inch would be inconvenient, I think. But I’m also only five feet tall, so that may have something to do with my thought that adding height to the side you stand on might not be a good idea. A taller person may not have an issue with it.

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