I grew up listening to my grandmother recount all kinds of facts about her extended family – Great Aunt So and So who loved fine china and Great Uncle So and So who grew hops out in the country. It was a blur of names combined with interesting stories of days gone by. These days, it is my mom who is busy researching her family tree – and she has been pretty successful. It certainly will make passing family history down a lot easier for me (Thanks Mom!)
This year, as a little token, I decided to make Mom a little family tree for her wall. Not generations and generations, but just her offspring – because one day we will be not just a little sapling, but a grand old oak.
I dug into my stash of salvaged cabinet doors.
I loved that they easily convert to a “preframed” surface just waiting for something fun.
After a quick primer coat of paint on the front and back, it was a pretty simple process. (You can totally do this!)
Here are the items that are needed to complete this project:
- 1 salvaged cabinet door (mine was approximately 12″ x 24″)
- Paint brush for base coat (1 1/2″ works well)
- White primer spray paint
- Painters tape
- Black chalkboard paint (or black paint with a flat finish)
- Acrylic paint in your favorite color (for the “frame”)
- White acrylic paint pen
- Clear Matte finish coat
Step One: Prepare surface by applying a thin coat of white primer spray paint to the front and back. This makes any type of cabinet surface paint-able. Nothing is more disappointing that putting time into something to have it bubble up or slide off!)
Step Two: Paint the frame and back. It doesn’t take much paint, so a small bottle of your favorite color purchased from a local craft supply store will give you more than enough to put down two good coats. (hint: prevent “oopsies” by taping off the “chalkboard area” with painters tape)
Step Three: Base coat the “chalkboard”. Two coats will give you a good surface, but if you have a quality paint, one coat may just be all you need! Again, it helps to tape off the portion of the surface that you don’t want to paint – in this case, the freshly painted frame. Make sure the paint on the frame is completely dry before you tape, or the tape may lift off the paint.
Step Four: Free hand draw, or transfer an outline of a tree. There are many images online that work well – and you can follow a simple method such as the one used here- to transfer it onto your surface. While you are at it, you can also free hand or transfer printed text – perhaps your family name, or “Family Tree” – or your favorite quote. (search “curly tree” for inspiration)
Step Five: Outline the transferred image with a medium tipped paint pen. These pens work great if you are patient. Shaking them, then pressing the tip onto a piece of scrap paper brings the paint to the tip. Once wet, it flows pretty smoothly, giving a nice steady line. Add the names of each of the people that branch off the family “trunk” – children on the main branches, and grandchildren on the smaller branches. Add a sweet pink heart to the trunk of the tree using either a small amount of acrylic paint, or a pink paint pen
Step Six: Top coat to protect the painted surface. Make sure that your work is completely dry before application. One or two coats of a matte finish varnish or acrylic top coat provides scratch protection as well as some moisture resistance.
Final Step: Attach hangers – such as the ones shown below – to the back of the plaque.
Display your Family Tree with pride, because one day, your great-great grandchildren will thank you!