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. 🙂
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!