A couple of weeks ago I got a bunch of paint for free on Craigslist. When I got home and went through it all, I found that there were two half-gallons that were nearly 8 years old. Since paint that old has generally deteriorated in quality, I didn’t want to use it on anything important – yet they were pretty yellow and purplish-gray colors that I just couldn’t bring myself not to use at all. So I scoured my house and yard for something that I could paint that it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t turn out great or last well. I looked at a few tree stumps we had sitting around our fire pit from last summer and thought, perfect!
(I forgot to take a before picture, but I think we all know what a tree stump looks like)
I’d been wanting a little table for the patio outside my office, and a prettied-up tree stump would work great. If the old paint produced less-than-ideal results, no big deal, and it didn’t have to last forever (there are no shortage of tree stumps, after all.)
I started by rolling the stump onto a tarp and basically dumping a bunch of the yellow and purple paint on top, then using a brush to smooth it on the bark down the sides. I did this a few times until it was fairly-evenly covered, yet still showed the natural color through.
(Unfortunately I didn’t take any in-process pictures either. I really need to get better at remembering to do this.)
I wanted to add a pop of color, and thought about hand-painting something on top, but since I’m not much of an artist, the results could be questionable. Then I remembered this big felt owl that I had stuck a magnet to and hung on the fridge, and realized it would make a perfect stencil.
Before doing the top I filled in some of the larger gaps with pre-mixed granite. When that dried, I positioned the owl on top, put a few small rocks on it so it wouldn’t move, and applied two coats of bright pink spray paint.
When I took the felt owl off I was pleased with the results, although I did do a little bit of touch up painting with the purplish-gray, and added a few sunbursts on either side.
I ended up spraying just a touch of the pink around the sides to tie it in better with the top.Then I applied a few coats of polyurethane furniture varnish, using a brush to really get it down into the grooves of the bark.
I like the end result, although if I were making this as an indoor end table that I wanted to last indefinitely I would have had to take much more care in drying and washing the stump prior to painting (and probably in varnishing too.) Since it was such a spur-of-the-moment project for me, the bottom of the stump is still damp and unfinished, and so I know this won’t last forever. Still, it was easy, quick, and cheap (free), holds my cup of coffee just fine, and looks cute on my patio next to my work-in-progress pink lawn chair.