Let’s face it. Our summertime hostesses go through quite a bit to make sure that each sweltering soirée goes off without a hitch — and all while we sit back and enjoy a Mai Tai or two. Shame on us! It’s time to show the love to our party-pro pals with craftable hostess gifts that will knock their socks off.
One trick that I come back to time and time again: The ombré effect. This simple painted technique (which is a single colorway going from lightest to darkest, in case you are just being introduced to this technique) can be added to so many goodies for gifts. This time, I focused my energy on DIY ombré wooden serving spoons.
For this project, you’ll need wooden spoons or forks, a plastic painter’s palette and thin-bristle paintbrush, two different colors of bright acrylic paint (your choice!), white paint, 1/4 inch masking tape and a sandpaper block.
Begin by using the sandpaper block to rough up the surface at the ends of the spoons. This step will get rid of the protective topcoat often found on store-bought wooden spoons, thereby allowing the paint to grab onto raw wood. Don’t forget to hit the top and sides of your spoon with the sandpaper, too!
After that, cut off small lengths of the masking tape and wrap carefully around the handle of each spoon. Check that the tape overlaps cleanly at the ends. Press very firmly all the way around with the tips of your fingers so that no pockets of air are left behind, which would ultimately make for uneven paint lines. I decided to make the width of my color blocks go from biggest to smallest, but you can always use a ruler to achieve more precise, evenly spaced bands if you prefer.
To mix ombré colors, first squeeze a quarter-sized drop of paint onto one section of your plastic painter’s palette. Then add a tiny drop (just a drop!) of white to a different area of the palette. Using your paintbrush, dip it into the original color, scooping a small amount into the white paint that you squeezed out. Keep each section separate. Then repeat the process a third time with a slightly larger amount of white paint.
Quick tip: You’ll want to rinse your brush each time to make sure that your colors don’t get muddled. If you find that the paint is a little too thick to mix easily, add a drop or two of water until the consistency is more like ketchup (as opposed to maple syrup, for example).
With your paintbrush in hand, dip it into the first color — the darkest — and paint the end of the serving spoon. Always paint away from the tape so that you don’t accidentally push paint up and under the masked area. Wash your brush after you’ve evenly coated the first section, and repeat on the next section with the middle tone. Then repeat the process a third time with the lightest color.
Allow the paint to dry so that, when held up to the light, you don’t see a wet reflection. Then go ahead and do a second coat. If you feel like you need a third coat, by all means, do so! It can’t hurt.
When your spoons are painted enough so that you can’t see the wood any longer, gently peel back the tape right away. If you let the paint dry completely with the tape still adhered, you run the risk of peeling the paint off with the tape.
After the tape has been discarded, place the spoons in a dry area and allow the paint to cure for a full hour or two. Then it’s time to slip them in a basket along with some fresh pasta or veggies and your friend’s favorite bottle of wine. As they say, there’s nothing better than a gracious guest — and a happy host!