Beat Up Wooden Bowl Gets a New Life

3 Materials
6 Hours

My father found this beat up bowl at a flea market. After some elbow grease and creative inspiration, this discard is now an eye-catcher.
My father used to pick up these wooden salad bowls at the flea market. He would take them home, sand them, and give them a new food-safe finish. He gave a couple to my sister and one to me.When my dad found this bowl, it was badly stained and had a weird waxy finish on it. He tried sanding it, but the stain stayed, and he couldn't get all of the waxy finish off. He decided it wasn't safe to use with food, but asked if I wanted it for a craft project. Of course, I said "yes."
My first step was to put a light wash of burnt sienna acrylic paint on it. I wanted to even out the color a little bit. I chose a thinned down wash of paint over stain because the paint would clean up with soap and water.
While my wash of paint dried, I went looking around the house for something to make a central circle in the base of my bowl. The bottom of my pencil sharpener turned out to be just the size I needed.
I didn't trace my sharpener onto my bowl. Instead, I traced it on to a stiff piece of paper. I then divided this circle into 6 equal sections (like a pie) using a ruler. I cut each of these 6 sections into a petal shape to create a flower center for my bowl.
Then I cut out a series of leaf shapes to put around my center flower to create a mandala-like design. Each of these leaf shapes got a little bigger as they moved up the side of my bowl.
When I settled on a design I liked, it was time trace my pattern on my bowl. First, I found the center of my bowl and lined up the center of my flower. Then I traced my flower on to my bowl using a white colored pencil. Next, I traced each of my leaves around my bowl.
When I finished tracing my design around the bowl, I decided to add an inner flower to my central flower.
When my design was finished and laid out, it was time to start painting. I figured out the color combination I wanted to use for each leaf. Then using acrylic paint and a small brush, I started painting my leaves. I painted the same leaf around my bowl while I had my paint mixed before moving on to the new leaf in the design.
When I was done, it looked like this.
After I finished with my leaves, I moved on to the detail work. This is not my strong suit, but using my smallest brush and working slowly, I outlined my flower in the center of my bowl.
Using the same pale yellow as my flower center, I added a central line to each of my leaves.
My finished bowl looks like this. I'm really happy with the transformation. I want to hang it on the wall, but I can't decide whether I want to hang under my rustic wooden star or with my paper quilt?
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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Jana
    on Feb 2, 2020

    Beautiful! Did you put a clear coat on to prevent scratches or fading? I'm unfamiliar with painting a wooden bowl. Thank you!

    • Sheila Ryan
      on Feb 4, 2020

      This looks a lot like tole painting that was popular in the 70’s/80’s timeframe to me. Lovely!

  • Virginia
    on Feb 19, 2020

    I have a hand made wooden bread bowl that a friend made for me about 7yrs ago along with the rolling pin I can't make bread but t won't to preserve it by painting it just don't know how. I would like to use it as a fruit bowl could you tell me what I need to get started

    • Donna
      on Feb 20, 2020

      If you're going to use the bowl for holding food, you need to find some paint and a finish that are non- toxic and food safe. You might want to consider just painting the outside of the bowl and using just a food safe finish on the inside.

Join the conversation

4 of 55 comments
  • Mary Law
    on Feb 24, 2020

    Hubby has a chest drawers that had a small chip out of the corner of one drawer. I put a goose on just that one corner. Covered in the same technique.

    • Donna
      on Feb 24, 2020

      Very creative! I'll have to try designing for a largerpiece. Thanks for the idea!

  • Christie L Kennedy
    on Feb 25, 2020


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