Quite some time ago, we set out in search of simple end tables for the living room. After seeing many behemoths and lamenting our simple needs for a sturdy spot to sit a drink, Target answered the call with amazingly cheapo black round end tables.
Despite a hundred admonishments of, "Why can't you use an f'ing coaster?" I failed to do so more often than not, so after a year or so the cheapo paper/laminate top was a mess. (Scot's was, as expected, pristine. He's such a Boy Scout.)
Influenced by a gift subscription to Craft: magazine, it seemed a perfect way to customize my little table, and not only fix it, but improve it.
Idea 1: decopage a map of Oregon, with Salem smack in the center. The decopage went beautifully. Wanting a thick, shellack like finish, I chose a spray shellack from the myriad of finishes we've picked up over the years. Bad choice. It was tinted, AND either too old or simply not the right stuff for it never dried.
Not three weeks later.
Idea 2: After scraping, sanding, cursing and striking the damn table repeatedly, I obtained a fairly clean surface. I applied some lovely origami papers in a geometric pattern, trimming and aligning perfectly. Then it dawned on me I'd have to seal it somehow. The pour-on acrylic would have been awesome, but I couldn't devise a reliable way to dam the flow so it wouldn't go past the edge, at least in a manner that would release and be peeled back to reveal a clean edge. Again I thought a spray shellack would be a solution. This time I chose more carefully, and tested the finish. It was perfect. I applied it heavily to the papers and... it soaked through and when it dried was an odd blotchy mess.
The table was put out in the dustbin more than once. But always retrieved in moments for some reason.
It's cluttered my humble studio space for... a year?
a beautiful panel curtain, a scroll of textile that feels oddly unnatural (viscose, rayon and polyester) with a burnout of one of my favorite vintage/modern/astro design elements. At only $10 for 10 ft of the stuff, I snatched it up with plans to do... something... with it.
Aha! The table!
I ordered a 13" round topper from South Town Glass. Circles of thick purple damask cardstock and a perfect selection of design from the panel curtain were cut. Each was adhered to the table with a gentle mist of 3M 7-7-7, and then topped with the glass which had three round spacers of stickie backed cork paper to give it some grip (I might replace those with clear rubber feet as they disturb the look too much).
And it is done. And looks great. But from each failure, I learned a great deal about materials. Why can't instant, amazing success be as educational?