The retro setI rewatched The Great Gatsby recently and have since been obsessed with deco prints and geometrical designs. So, when we had to make a gift for my aunt, it was the first thing I thought off. The idea was to make a set of coasters, a napkin holder and a small tray. To this we added, a simple triangular pattern. To be honest, it did take some time and effort to complete. Tougher than I expected. But, the end result worked out quite nicely. And at the end of the day, she liked the gift, which makes the effort, completely worth it.

close up retro setBudget: Medium (Mostly because the rates of the blanks varies from place to place)

Time taken: 6+ hours. It can vary depending on the design chosen.


  • Blanks of 4+ coasters, a napkin stand and a small tray
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Golden sharpie
  • Pencil
  • Tracing paper
  • Varnish

Blanks used for retro setSteps:

Before we start on the set, there are some prep steps that are needed to make sure everything is smooth sailing.

  • Pick your design. This is probably the most important part of making this DIY. The design needs to be simple so that it can be replicated on all of the articles without issue. Keep in mind, that the objects have angles, and aren’t all flat surfaces. Which means, its going to be difficult to draw. At the same time, it’s important that the design look good on  the objects that have been chosen.
  • Pick the colors and place your design. The next thing I did, was select the two colors we wanted. I suggest two colors, as too many colors will become quite difficult to do on the tray and napkin stand. So, keep it simple.
  • The next step is to print out the design to be used. Depending on your printer, you can print the design on tracing paper or regular sheets. Both can be used to trace the design onto the objects.

Now it’s time to get started on the set!

1. Once all the prep has been done, work on the set can begin. After making sure I had sufficient paint, I did one coat of paint onto the blanks.  At this point, I also tested to see how the golden sharpie working on the wood of the blanks and the coat of paint.

Step 1: Paint the blanks2. After painting and letting the surface dry (this shouldn’t take too long), the print out needs to be traced onto the objects. I actually just pasted the tracing paper to the edges and used a pencil to press the design on. I would also recommend tracing instead of drawing for people like me, who have limited freehand drawing skills, but do want a level of precision.

Step 2 Draw the design3. Draw with the golden sharpie/marker onto the tracings. Go very very slowly here, the ink can smudge.

step 3 use a sharpie4. Touch it up. There were several small gaps and overlaps in the green and gold. Which can easily be masked with small touch ups.

5. Varnish the set. This is done, to make sure the paint does not smudge when any liquid touches the surface.

close up of coastersThings to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use a very dark pencil. The pencil marks are tough to erase.
  • Test your colors before you start painting. It’s bound to look messy otherwise.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when using the varnish. And only use it in the open.
  • Move slowly and steadily with the sharpie. Smears and smudges just lead to more touch ups and more work.

The great thing about the green we chose was that it works well with both, light and dark backgrounds. See what it looks like,

The retro set

How to make a tray setLet me know, how you like this DIY in the comments below! – PA