I was asked to be my daughter's kindergarten room parent this year...a few parties, easy peasy! Or so I thought. It was only after I had agreed that I found out that I was in charge of the class auction project...what now? We are new to the school, so I really didn't have a frame of reference for what they were looking for. After talking to a few moms, I got a better idea of what was expected. Each child in the class had to be a "part" of the project. I decided I wanted to make a ceramic tile top table. I wanted each child to color a tile and create the top. I was intrigued by the constant Pinterest posts claiming you can color on ceramic with permanent marker and bake it in the over and...voila it's done. Well, that didn't turn out to be the case with me..but after some trial and error, I found a way that was passable.
Our budget for the project was 50.00 (that's what we would be reimbursed for). My first mission was to find a table. I needed a table with an inset or "lip" so that I could created the tile layer on top. I bought a table and chair set from Ikea for 20.00 thinking it would be perfect. But, as most things from Ikea...the quality wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. The table top was flimsy and I was unsure if it would be substantial enough to hold the tile and the grout, etc. On a whim, I stopped at our local Goodwill and found this beauty for 4.99.
Okay, so maybe not a beauty..yet! But nothing a little cleaning and spray paint won't fix! Plus, it had the lip/inset I was looking for to make the tile top...meant to be, I tell you!
My next stop was Home Depot, where I purchased ceramic tiles for .13 each. I needed 28 square tiles for the project, but I purchased extra for trials and screw ups, etc. I also needed 3 longer tiles to finish the edge. I was kind of amazed how it worked out perfectly! Again...meant to be!
Next, I needed to refinish the table. Disclaimer, this was the first piece of furniture that I ever refinished and I am no means an expert. There are tons of pins/tutorials that can guide you. I sanded the table down, wiped it clean and spray painted it an antique white color. It was a huge improvement!
The kids would be adding a lot of colors and designs to the tiles, so I wanted to give the table a little uniformity. So, I cut out a heart shape on my Cricut and traced a heart shape each tile. Uniformity...and it gave the kindergartners a little guidance...always a good thing!
Now came one of the more difficult parts. Trying to decide what would be the best way to color and finish the tiles. I scoured Pinterest looking for ways to color the tiles with permanent marker. Some people gave the color/baking process rave reviews while others said it didn't work for them. I decided to use regular Sharpies and try it several different ways. I colored a few and then baked a few at different temperatures for different amounts of time. Frankly, it just didn't work. Some of the colors started "rolling off" and fading. I am sure it was because the ceramic tiles are finished and shiny. If it was a matte tile, this process may have worked great. But, for my purposes I needed a different way. Some people suggested oil based Sharpies. I tried this and it actually worked fantastic. But I was faced with a few problems:
1. Oil Based Sharpies are extremely expensive. Like 7.00 a marker. Please refer to my 50.00 budget.
2. My daughter's school is a Catholic school and the kids wear uniforms. I had no desire to be on the receiving end of angry parent phonecalls for ruining their kids expensive uniforms with oil based markers.
So, I stuck with the regular sharpies..there are several challenges when coloring the tiles with these markers. The colors will bleed together if not careful...but wiping off the marker and going over it fixes it. Play around with it, you will see what I am talking about. After the tiles were finished, I applied several coats of a clear lacquer. Several. Please, like I said I am not an expert....but make sure you take my advice on one thing. Make sure the first coat is sprayed from at least a foot or so away. If you spray too closely, you will destroy the color...it will run everywhere and your work will be for not. A light first and second coat..then you can really put on a thicker coat later.
All set up at the school and ready for the kids to color
Coloring the tiles!
The next step was obviously setting and grouting the tiles. I have absolutely no skills in this area...so I sat back and drank wine while I enlisted my brother in law to do that part. I suggest you do the same..it's much easier that way. I'm not sure what products he used..I just know he didn't do the "wipe the grout away with a wet sponge method) He filled it right into the tracks with a gun and we used our fingers to smooth it out. This worked well because I think that if we had been "wiping" the sand based grout across the tiles, some of the marker would have come off. Although I was really good about lacquering the faces of the tiles, I wasn't as careful about the edges. So, we had some touching up to do later.
The finished product! Auction worthy? I hope so!
The auction was this weekend..I actually don't know how much the table went for as I was unable to attend. I will update the post when I find out! Overall...this was a labor of love. It took a long time and it was a big process..but I think worth it in the end!