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My Work Table – Before & After

My Work Table - Before & AfterI have four work surfaces in my studio.

I have a very small desk with a fold out work surface. The idea was that I’d stash my computer away at night and close the “lid.” Hah!

I have a nice, wide ironing board.

I have a tall table with a big cutting mat. Sadly – the cutting mat is usually the only empty surface on the table. The other 3/4 of the table is piled high with works in progress.

And then there’s my sewing machine table. It had three machines on it: my machine, Jo’s machine and a serger which I hated.

Jo hardly ever uses her machine – she prefers to use mine and that’s ok with me. We’ll give hers back to her grandmother (for now) because it has a really terrific buttonhole feature. I gave the hated serger away. And I was finally ready to finish that table!

My work table - Before.Here’s the before.

Pretty ugly, no?

It’s actually a terrific table. It’s super sturdy (good for sewing machine work) and nice and big (now that it’s not crowded with three machine and a WIP basket).

It’s an old metal office desk. It had some kind of laminate top, but that was gone by the time I got it, leaving a little raised lip all the way around – perfect for what I’ve planned to do with it from day one. πŸ™‚

I spray painted the sides and legs magenta and left the middle the rough, grey primer. I’ve used it like that for a few years now. Let me just say that a rough surface is not great for sewing on.

My Work Table - AfterI worked in children’s publishing for 20+ years before starting Shiny Happy World. I have a huge pile of pages from some of my favorite children’s books. Some of them are from damaged books I’ve collected over the years. Some of them are from early, unbound versions of a new book that are sent out for review.

I cut a bunch of my favorites into 2, 4 and 6 inch squares. I used one of my clear rulers so I could center some of my favorite images by some of my favorite artists.

Here are just a few I love. . .

I glued all of them down with white glue – nothing fancy.

I tried to go for an even spacing of the different size blocks – and spreading out multiple images by the same artist.

I wish I had known to cover all of them with another coat of white glue to protect the paper. A lot of the paper was already coated – but some of the pages from older books got a little blotchy from the next step. Now I know for next time. And now you know. Lay on another coat of glue.

Let it all dry overnight.

Then I mixed up a fancy resin called EnviroTex Lite.

I got mine (two 32 ounce kits – this is a big table) at Michael’s with a discount coupon and they’ve been sitting on the side of my work table for over a year now.


You need to mix them together really, really well – and use a container that you can throw in the trash. I lopped off the top of  gallon jug that held vinegar.

07 pour resin 1000 pxI poured the resin right in the middle of the table.

Then I carefully spread it out to the edges using the side of my wooden paint stirrer to push it into place.

I only pushed it off the edge once. Glad I remembered to put down a drop cloth under where I was working!

My Work Table - Remake in Progress

This takes a little time. I was worried it would start drying right away – but I had plenty of time to work.

09 bubbles 1000 pxIt’ll start to form little bubbles all over the place.

Blow on them.

The carbon dioxide in your breath makes them pop.


It’s less magical when you do it over and over again all over the surface of a large table. Of course – in order to breathe out, I had to first breathe in – and this stuff produced some fumes. Not awful fumes – but my head was definitely spinning after all the deep breathing.

Keep checking for bubbles! They keep forming over the surface for quite a while.

Then let it sit for days. The package tells you how long (it depends on the size of the project, the temperature and the humidity). I did mine before we went out of town for Labor Day weekend so it would be dry by the time we got back.

My Work Table - After Its Makeover!And here’s the finished table! it’s so beautiful! (And also shiny and very hard to photograph.)

I know it’s a little busy with all the different styles and colors, but for me it’s a constant source of inspiration to see these artists whose work I love! And I was so happy to use all those pages I’ve been hoarding.

I still have some left. I wonder what I should cover next. . . πŸ™‚

That's me!


  1. I bet the surface is beautiful and strong. Given how much work and mess it was, though, would you do it again? Did you consider using a slab of plexiglass instead?

  2. Dana SAYS...

    What a fantasticl work surface. I bet it calls for endless pauses for ruminations and daydreaming. Oh, wait, you did say “inspiration”, which in my book is the same… πŸ™‚

  3. Sheila Perl SAYS...

    Your table looks great and very inspirational!

  4. Stacey King SAYS...

    That is such a great idea! I also think that it would be neat to do with family photos (as long as you plan to keep the object forever).

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      Great idea!

  5. Lynn Long SAYS...

    Looks great! Like it so much I am off to find a table to do this with. My work tables are folding plastic tables. These work great in my 900 square foot house because I can stash my project and take the tables down and the room is ready to serve dinner in.

  6. Sara SAYS...

    I love the table. So much so, in fact, that I would hate to cover any of it up with a machine or stacks of things to do. It illustrates why I so enjoy your site; I love your combination of whimsy, creativity, and ability. Good on ya! πŸ™‚

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      It’s definitely been an incentive to keep it neat! I have a tendency to cover every flat surface with work in progress. πŸ™‚

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