My one-year-old son and I were preparing to make his first gifts for Mother’s and Father’s Days. After browsing through my drawers of craft supplies, I came back with some paints and… a blank wooden cutting board.
When I was a girl, I painted a lot of utilitarian objects made of wood simply because I liked the process so much. The very first time I did it was in an art class where we painted on a wooden cutting board. Then I tried wooden boxes, wooden peg dolls and wooden spoons, and over the years have since given many hand-painted gifts to friends and family. I would probably feel pretty embarrassed if I saw them again now, but my mom has always been genuinely grateful. Now that I have Budster, I understand better why, knowing how precious his squiggles are to me. So we decided to keep up the family tradition and paint a cutting board.
Cutting boards are fun to decorate! If they turn out nicely, they can be hung on the kitchen wall, but if not… well, the receiver can still use the unpainted half of the cutting board. So I decided to give Budster a go at one. I didn’t need to offer him twice – he is always game when paints are involved. After all, it is such a fun way to get dirty!
My tip for working with the youngest artists is not to confuse them with a lot of colours. They are only learning to make choices, which is why I usually offer Budster only two or three colours and a jar of white paint.
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- tempera or gouache paints (if you’re doing it with older kids who you can trust to be more careful, acrylics work as well)
- blank wooden cutting board (can be purchased at thrift stores, dollar stores, home stores, etc.)
- spray varnish or glossy brush-on varnish
After I helped Budster into his high chair, all I had to do was to let him work.
I love the toddlers’ way of exploring colours. They work so seriously and confidently, and in the end they produce another masterpiece of abstract art. I enjoyed watching Budster, as he worked on creating his own little cosmos.
If you do not plan to use this cutting board for its primary purpose, but only as decoration, you can call it finished as soon as it is dry. But if you think that in a while, this cutting board can be put to use in the kitchen, or you want to protect the masterpiece from dust and humidity better, you can give it a coat of varnish.
Water-based varnish will smear water-based paints, so you will need to use something else – like polyurethane– or oil-based varnish that’s used for outdoor projects. Alternatively, consider spray varnish! Afterwards the surface of the painting can be wiped off or even briefly submerged in water.
After that, the cutting board is ready to be given away and to take a central place in the kitchen of a proud Mom or Grandma. Ours did. Update: After two years, it’s still there! Maybe it will be time to make a new one soon.