Tole Painting a Large Serving Tray for Spring Decor

Tole Painting a Large Serving Tray for Spring Decor

Now that I’m doing the right thing and staying home, I can’t breeze by a thrift store for project inspiration. Instead, I went “garage shopping” and decided that this large serving tray was ripe for upcycling. I needed a relaxing activity to calm my nerves and thought that tole painting the tray might be just the ticket.

Large serving tray at a thrift store to be given a makeover

But first, what an odd finish/paint job on this tray, right? The black and red is NOT working for me.

You’re probably familiar with tole painting, even if you don’t think you are. In fact, a lot of toleware is black with folk art painting over the black background.

But Italian toleware is often white with touches of pastel colors. This vintage chandelier I spotted while on a junkin’ journey to Charleston, SC is a great example of it.

Italian tole chandelier at an antique store in Summerville SC

So, keep that chandelier in your mind while I work on upcycling that large tray with some tole painting. Because that’s the look I’ll be going for!

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Transforming a Large Tray for Spring Decor

First things first, I needed to paint the entire tray white. And OF COURSE, I was low on white spray paint. But I used up a couple of cans (one in a semi-glossy and one in a satin finish) to get the job done.

Spray painting a large tray for a Spring craft

When all was said and done, I had a nice bright white canvas to try my hand at tole painting on.

Tole painting a large serving tray as a relaxing activity

Speaking of tole painting, I’ve actually tried it once before on this upcycled candle holder project.

Anyway, I gathered some craft paint in a variety of pastel colors, as well as some small craft paint brushes.

Craft paints in Spring colors for tole painting

I focused on tole painting the details of the tray, which was VERY relaxing and soothing. I also didn’t worry about doing a perfect job.

But it felt wonderfully freeing to concentrate on petals and leaves and cancel out the world for a little while.

Tole painting and relaxing things to do at home

Relaxing Things to Do with Tole Painting

I added touches of color to the pronounced flowers and a few of the leaves. When I was satisfied, this is what the large tray looked like.

Spring craft by tole painting on a large serving tray

Next, I grabbed some fine-grit flexible sandpaper and began to distress the edges. I also rubbed the sandpaper over the areas of tole painting to dilute the bright colors.

White toleware as a Spring craft with a large tray

It was looking SO much better! As if it were a cousin of that vintage chandelier that I showed you earlier!

Spring decor by tole painting a large serving tray

Finally, I sealed the entire tray with clear furniture wax. I always use Annie Sloan Soft Wax, but there are lot of other options out there.

Either way, I swirled on some wax and buffed it off until the tray was smooth as butter.

Annie Sloan soft wax over the tole painting and white toleware

Tole Painting a Large Serving Tray for Spring Decor

And just like that, I had transformed my large serving tray into white toleware with some tole painting!

White toleware as an upcycling craft project on a large serving tray

If you have any pieces in your thrift store stash that have embossed or raised details, it may be perfect for tole painting. And I hope the process is as relaxing and calming for you as it was for me.

Relaxing activity with tole painting on a large tray for Spring decor

This will be lovely as Spring decor, won’t it? I left the center plain (i.e., no stenciling) because I figure I may cover it with flowers, candles, eggs, or other Spring-y bits and pieces.

I hope you are staying home as much as possible right now, too! If you are, it’s a great time to get your garden started. And if you have any old, rusty baking pans, they work perfectly as propagation trays!

Propagation tray or seed pots by upcycling a muffin pan from the thrift store

Craft on!


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Upcycling idea for a large serving tray with tole painting


  1. I love it!

  2. Cheryl Atkinson says

    Hi. Thank you for sharing. I have never heard of tole painting but now I know and it looks like it would be relaxing. I may have to search in my stash for something. Stay safe and stay home!

  3. That turned out so pretty!


  4. Well this is fabulous! You would never in a million years know what this cheerful, springy tray looked like before. I’ve never tried Tole painting but can see it could be a lot of fun and can take you in so many directions. There are more than a few unfortunate pieces out there that could use this little pick-me-up! 😉

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you, Sheila! It may not be true tole painting, but it scratched that itch during these trying times.

  5. Rebecca Payne says

    I love this idea

  6. Love your tray! I did told painting years ago and totally forgot about doing it again.

  7. That original tray was one ugly thing! You sure transformed it! I bet your tray will be a lovely “frame” stood up on a shelf to frame a springy vignette, too. Your imagination and insight never fails to amaze me.

  8. Mary Loveland says

    Nice job, “soothing” is good!

  9. Naomi Shelton says

    I love it! So Springy and Happy! It will look lovely with a candle and a jar of flowers and maybe a bunny on it. Or…some easter eggs in a little basket. Great job, “Sadie”! And thanks for the idea of seed starting in muffin tins. What a good idea!

    Stay well.

  10. I love the spring tray! Perfect for serving tasty goodies!

  11. Wow, what a beautiful transfermation. I love you work. Thanks for sharing. I will keep an eye out for something like this.

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