I’m always up for a unique challenge and enjoy making things that have never been done before. But when my fellow IBC’ers suggested we do a “Chic Tray” challenge this month, my heart sank. It seemed like a gazillion tray tutorials were floating around the internet already. I really struggled to come up with something that was both different and doable. And then I stubbed my toe on a cracked tile!! Once I’d exhausted my collection of swear words, I finally figured out what I would make and share with all of you; this cardboard resin tray with a slate border.
Quite a mouthful but oh, so rusticly gorgeous and quirky. And it’s eco-friendly too.
Just the way I like it 😉
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a cardboard resin tray with a slate border. If you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you’ll see what my fellow bloggers in the IBC (International Blogger’s Club) did for their “Tray Chic” challenge. But before we get there, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!
What you need
- Sharp craft knife
- Craft paint and paintbrush
- Masking tape
- Hard clear varnish
- Glue gun and glue
- 2-part epoxy resin
- Slate chips
- Tin foil
- Black Alcohol ink
- Clear sealer
Making a cardboard resin tray with a slate border
Prepping the cardboard tray base
Using a sharp craft knife and a ruler, cut two equally sized cardboard rectangles.
You can make them as big or small as you want. My tray measures 30.5 cm x 25.5 cm (12” x 10”).
Glue the two rectangles together, so you have one thick base to work on.
Use masking tape to disguise the wiggly, waggly cardboard edges.
Paint the cardboard black and apply 3 to 4 coats of hard varnish to one side to protect the cardboard from damage. This plain side will be the bottom of the tray.
The next step is entirely optional. A few weeks back, I was playing around with alcohol ink and tin foil (aluminium foil) and noticed that black ink made the most amazingly random colours once dry. I tried the other colors, but they didn’t do the same thing.
I’ve been dying to incorporate that randomness into some craft. You can dolly up the top of your cardboard tray any way you want to. You can even add lights, but just in case you’re curious, here’s how I created that random alcohol ink inlay.
Random alcohol ink inlay
Tear off a strip of tin foil that’s bigger than the cardboard.
Drip black alcohol ink on the foil.
Spread it out a little using another piece of foil and leave it to dry. Repeat until the entire area is covered. Scrunch up the foil and straighten it out again. Add more ink if you see big shiny gaps. You can watch a quick video of how it’s done below.
Glue the foil to the cardboard and seal it with a clear sealer.
Make sure the sealer is non-alcohol; you don’t want to reactivate the ink. I applied three coats of the sealer.
Adding a thin resin layer
Before adding the slate border, pour a thin layer of resin to the foil and alcohol ink inlay. I created a dam wall with my glue gun, so I didn’t have to worry about any resin overflow.
The thin resin layer is just there to protect the foil for the next steps.
Leave the resin to cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions before removing the glue border and adding the branch tray handles.
Making branch handles
To make the handles for my recycled cardboard resin tray, I use a dead branch and a wooden dowel. You can use store-bought handles too.
Cut the branch into two 10 cm (3 3/8”) pieces, and the dowel sticks into four 6 cm (2 2/8”) pieces.
Using a drill bit that’s the same width as the dowels stick, drill two holes about 1.5 cm from the ends of the cut branch.
Flip the cardboard tray over so the unadorned bottom faces up. Using the drilled holes as a guide, mark about 2 cm in from the border of the tray. Drill a pilot hole through the cardboard and add a screw.
The screws should poke out on the other side, as shown below.
Drill a pilot hole on either end of the cut dowel sticks. Screw the dowel sticks into the cardboard resin tray.
The dowels will form the upright supports for the wooden handle. Put the cut branches in a safe place for now. We’ll add them once the slate border is done.
Making a slate border
Remember that tile I told you about earlier? Mmmmm, revenge is sweet when it involves a hammer 😉 This cardboard resin tray has a border made from slate tile chips. If you don’t have a personal vendetta against a tile, you can buy slate chips at most garden stores or online. Or, you can make your own.
How to make slate chips
Our friends often ask us to make slate hearts and coasters, so there are a lot of off-cuts (and toe-stubbing tiles) lying around. If you have a spare slate tile floating around, give it a few good smacks with a hammer, and you’ll have chippings in no time.
Remember to wear safety goggles; the little shards go everywhere.
Check for any sharp edges and file them away on a brick or sandpaper.
Pop the slate chips in a bag until you’re ready to use them.
Adding the slate border
I was in two minds about this part of the process; I could either use thinset (tile adhesive) or glue to add the slate chips. After having an internal debate, I settled on the glue option.
Thinset would make the tray too heavy, and I wasn’t 100% sure if it would
muddy cloud the next resin layer. Making the slate border is kinda like doing a mosaic, except you’ll glue the slate chips around the edge of the tray. Try to line up the straight edges of the slate chips with the edges of the cardboard base. To hide the edge of the cardboard, place the chips half-on-half-off.
Work from the corners inwards and pile the slate chips on top of each other to create a small wall.
Slate chips are pretty soft, so you can use tile nippers, old scissors or a metal file to shape them. Don’t worry too much if they’re not a perfect fit. You can cover any gaps with another piece of slate as you build up the wall.
My wall is about 2 cm (1”) high. As a last step in preparation for the final resin pour, check for small gaps at the bottom of the slate
wall border and fill them up with hot glue.
Pouring a final resin layer
Almost done. Mix up another batch of clear resin and carefully pour the resin over the cardboard tray inlay.
The resin should completely cover the foil inlay. I underestimated how high some of the foil peaks were and had to do another thin layer to ensure the tray was level.
Finally, glue the branch handles onto the cut dowel sticks.
Leave the glue and resin to cure completely before using your recycled tray.
The resin coating strengthens the cardboard making the tray stain-resistant and impervious to whatever you throw at it. It also accentuates and protects those random alcohol ink blots and crinkled foil texture.
The tray is perfect as a designated key holder or for serving snacks, and she adds a touch of elegance to our décor.
What do you think? Have you used cardboard to make a tray?
If you like the idea of making a recycled cardboard resin tray with a slate border, don’t forget to pin it for later.
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Want to see more crazy crafts using cardboard? Here are a few of our favorite tutorials on the blog.
More “Tray Chic” ideas
Fun Fact Alert! Did you know trays have been around for centuries? Ancient Egyptians used them to serve food to the gods in religious ceremonies. I don’t think our IBC “Tray Chic” ideas will be used in quite the same way, but they are all special and unique. Just click on the links below to find out more.
- Anita hand-crafted her barn wood quilt tray from scratch using scrap wood.
- A bed tray gets a pretty folk art decor stamp makeover in the capable hands of Rachel.
- Kristen shares how you can use thrifted pieces to make tray risers.
- You’ve just read all about this one 😉
Oh, BTW, if you’re looking for some of the things I used to make our cardboard resin tray, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry, it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us make more amazing crafts to share with you.
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.