Disclaimer: I have included links in this post to items that I purchased. I do not get any kickbacks from you clicking the links. I just wanted to share what worked for me. Enjoy!
I am in the process (…a long process) of setting up a Makerspace in my Teen Room. My vision for this space is one that maintains the industrial-meets-modern décor that can be found around the rest of the Teen Room. I want a space that promotes STEAM activities, without completely losing its YA Book-appeal. With that said, our first task in getting this space underway was to purchase workbenches and stools for use during Maker activities. I wanted workbenches that could be pushed up against the walls if we needed more floor space or if we’re working on individual activities but also could be combined creating a more collaborative work space. Gladiator makes some really nice workbenches that fit the bill…and they were relatively inexpensive. As for stools (the real purpose of this blog post), I purchased stools from School Outfitters that are reminiscent of what you’d find in a shop or art class or science lab – aluminum frame with a Masonite seat. I chose these stools for what I perceived as their paintability. I had a vision that I wanted to involve my teens in and it all started on Pinterest….
I was scrolling through Pinterest one day, quite some time ago, when I stumbled across these really cool bookends painted to look like YA books. I pinned it and forgot about it until I saw those stools and their blank slate of Masonite…I could totally adapt that project and bring YA fiction into my Makerspace! So, I made it happen, with the help of some REALLY artistic teens.
These stools are currently my pride and joy at work. We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into them to get a perfect finished product. So, here’s the “How-to” because painting on Masonite is not as easy as you’d think.
- Adjustable height stools
- Paint brushes of varying sizes (both artistic and heavy duty)
- Acrylic paint (as many colors as your designs require)
- Gesso primer (I used ProArt brand, but Golden is another quality brand)
- Acrylic gloss and varnish
- Painter’s tape
- Bookish designs/book covers
- Some really artsy teens
Step 1: Assemble the stools. They come in a huge box with some assembly required since they are adjustable. You could also buy the fixed height stools, which would already be assembled. Your choice.
Step 2: Apply painter’s tape to any surface that you don’t want to get painted.
Step 3: Prime the stools with Gesso. The Gesso helps the acrylic paint to adhere to the Masonite, as well as give you a flat white surface to paint on, helping the colors stay true. While you might be thinking, “Hey, I can probably skip this step by simply sanding the shiny Masonite surface!” I am going strongly advise that you reconsider. For some reason, Masonite sucks up paint. You might paint on it and think, “Darn, that looks cool!” but, revisit your hard work later only to find that your colors have really, really dulled. To avoid this heartache, just prime it with Gesso and thank me later. 😉
Step 4: Once the Gesso is dry, repeat Step 3. You’ll really want at least 2 coats of Gesso. Don’t worry, Gesso dries really quickly, so this will not take as much time as you’d think. You can definitely get the priming done in a couple of hours.
Step 5: Assemble your ideas/designs or let your teens come up with these. Supply them with paint, artistic brushes, and anything else they need to begin painting on the stools. It might be helpful to have some pencils available so they can lightly draw their designs on the white surface first. Painting the designs might take several days due to the fact that you’ll be painting several layers with different colors (depending on the designs you choose). You’ll want each layer to dry completely before starting another layer, otherwise, you’ll end up with a sloppy-looking finished product.
Step 6: Once your designs are fully painted, fully dry, and fully cured (several days later…I waited a week), you can apply the acrylic gloss and varnish using a 2” brush (or roller). Voilà! Perfection!