A fun weekend project that brings the colorful, fluid movements of an acrylic pour to the simple, classic function of a side table. Add your favorite colors to make this table your own and fit your style!
Let's make sure we are all using the same language. An acrylic pour is a method of painting where acrylic paints are mixed with a “pouring medium” and water, copiously poured onto a surface and manipulated so the colors move, intermingle and become these beautiful looking layers of color and fluid movement.
When I am pouring paint I find a freedom I have never known. While you can select the color palate and pouring technique, the end result may look nothing like you intended. It is always beautiful and gives you the freedom to give up control and let the colors find their voice. A feeling of contentedness comes with being able to let go; only able to guide the paint, not control it.
Before starting this project I have two things to warn you about. First is that this project can get messy, so be prepared for that. And Second, acrylic pours are very addictive. You many not know what I mean right now, but if you attempt a pour yourself, don’t be surprised if while the paint is drying, you find yourself getting in the car to go and buy your next surface to paint.
Table Top (Can be square, round, rectangle, any shape your want). Most home improvement and craft stores have pre-cut ones ready to go. Round wood table top.
Wood Table Legs (Pick the length and style to fit your needs) Simple Wood Table Legs
Table Leg Mounting Brackets Mounting Plates
Wood Primer and Sealer Primer Here is one choice.
Acrylic paints (You can get higher quality paints at art supply stores or find a great selection at reasonable prices at hobby stores or large "mart" retailers)
91% rubbing alcohol
Drip tray/ drop cloth
Level, dust free work area (I cannot stress enough the need for a level surface for your work to dry. It can take up to 24 hours or more for the paint to dry. The paint will continue to flow if placed on an uneven drying rack.)
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Step 1: Prepare Wood Surface
Make sure that whatever material you are going to use for the table top (wood, metal, plastic, glass, etc.) it is clean, smooth and any imperfections are taken care of.
For this project, I chose a 15” round wooden craft tabletop which can be found at your local hardware store or hobby shop.
Using an orbital sander and sanded the top, bottom and sides 3 times, each time with increasing level of grit (120, 180, and 220).
I made sure the wood was free of any dust or debris and painted it with 2 coats of primer. The primer serves a dual purpose; it seals and protects the wood and it also prepares the wood the the acrylic paint, ensuring that colors will not bleed or fade.
Step 2: Prepare the Paint
When beginning the process of making a side table with and acrylic pour on the table surface, one of the most Important things to keep in mind throughout this whole process is that whatever surface you choose to work with, it needs to be level. The theory behind an acrylic pour is that the “canvas” is flooded with various colors and tilted around to have the paint create a fluid, natural looking effect. Once you reach a point that you are happy with your pour, it needs to sit and dry for at least 24 hours. During the drying time, your piece needs to be level otherwise the paint will continue to shift and you will end up with something that looks completely different than you were expecting.
I generally like to use between 4 and 8 different colors for a pour of this size. You can pick whatever colors you want, like or think will do together well. For this table top, I chose: red, burgundy, orange, turquoise, purple, blue, white, and brown.
Pour some acrylic into separate cups, one for each color. It can be a challenge to figure out exactly how much paint will be need for a pour, but it is always a good idea to mix more paint than necessary so you don’t run out half way through.
To each paint cup, add the pouring medium. Pouring medium is simply a paint extender. There are serves types and brands, I like and usually use this one.
The ratio that is I generally use two parts of pouring medium to one part acrylic paint.
Next a small amount of water is added to each cup, about 1/2 oz.
Then, I add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to some of the paints. The rubbing alcohol helps cause a reaction with the other paints, once they have been combined on the “canvas” and heated with a torch or other heat producing element. The more rubbing alcohol you use for a color the more separation or "cells" is created with the other colors. I usually put varying amounts of the alcohol in about 2/3rds of the colors. There is a lot of science behind all of this including: physics, fluid dynamics, weights and density of paint and pigments, and..and..and. Bottom line the additives are used to keep the colors separate (not muddy) when poured together.
Once the paint, pouring medium, water, and rubbing alcohol have been dispersed into each cup, the contents of each cup should be stirred thoroughly, until the color is all one single shade and everything is combined. If the color you are seeing is lighter than the color you were going for, add more acrylic paint to it and continue to stir.
Step 3: Priming the Canvas
Once ready to paint, make sure you put on your gloves, have a level surface to work on and a level surface for your work to dry on.
When starting to paint, it is recommended that a base layer of paint is poured. This means that in an acrylic pour, you usually take a cup of mixed up, paint is poured over the entire surface. This is done to help the flow of the rest of the color that will be added.
For this project I decided to use red as my base coat. Once I poured almost all my red paint, I picked up the tabletop and turning and tilting it until the entire top and sides were covered. I let the excess drip over the sides and into my drip pan.
Step 4: The Pour!
There are almost countless ways you can add your other colors to the surface for the pour. The dirty pour, with string, balloons, food strainers, etc. For this pour, I chose to use "The Kiss" method where 2 colors are poured simultaneously and in the same spot, mixing as they drop to the canvas.
Make sure that when pouring you do so in a slow but steady pace.
Once you think you have added enough paint, pick up and tilt the surface to manipulate the look of your project. Let your creativity as well as the paints flow. I like to tilt my canvas in a clockwise direction, making sure to move a steady and even pace, trying to create and almost swirl like pattern.
When you reach a point where you are satisfied with your work. put your work down and use the torch and move the flame back and forth, close to the paint, but without burning it. What you are doing here is heating the rubbing alcohol, which causes a reaction between the layers of paint and creating beautiful cells of color and pattern.
Once you have determined that your surface is done, place your work on a level surface where it won’t be disturbed for at least 24 hours.
Step 5: Finishing Up
When your newly created work of art is completely dry, you can finish up the table. Paint or stain the legs and underside of your piece. I used a brown furniture paint.
When attaching the legs to the underside of the surface, the leg placement is important. My side table has three legs. I ended up taking a pencil and marking off on the underside of the surface. Dividing the bottom into 6 equal sections, like cutting a pie or cake, will give you the correct spacing for 120 degree angles. Once you have marked to location, take a drill, the screws and the leg attachment pieces and secure them to underside of the table.
To protect the wood and your art, you should use a polyurethane sealer. 2 coats of my favorite, and this "poured" side table is done.
Please give this a try! I hope you find pour painting to be a fun, creative and freeing, as I have.
Runner Up in the