Please Welcome: Autumn from it's always autumn

Hi everyone! I'm Autumn, and I blog over at It's Always Autumn, where I share photography tips, craft and sewing tutorials, and favorite recipes. I'm excited to be here today to share a cool project with you that combines a couple of my interests - it's a DIY herringbone tray that can be used as table decor, mantle decor, or a photography background for small items.

I love photography and I've created a couple of inexpensive DIY background boards so I can take great photos of my kids in my house, but this time I wanted a smaller board to help showcase some of the items I make and share on my blog. So I created a bright turquoise tray with a herringbone design that works both as decor and as a photography background. I've been meaning to make a table runner since we revamped our kitchen but haven't gotten around to it, so the tray is currently adding a little pizazz to the center of my dining room table.

(Photo frame from a favorite book, Orange Dream Smoothie, baby dress from a women's shirt below) 

I LOVE how this tray looks, whether it's on my table, propped up against the wall above my piano (my faux mantle :) or in photographs. The materials are easy to get ahold of and inexpensive, and anyone can make this as long as you're willing to put in a little time. I've also made a much larger and simpler version that I'll share at the end of the post that took less than an hour start to finish.

To make your own herringbone tray, you'll need:

1/8th inch thick MDF or very thin plywood just smaller than the finished tray size (I have the guys at Home Depot cut this to size for me)

7-8 wood laths (these are 4 ft long pieces of thin wood you can get at Home Depot for about 50 cents each)

wood glue

miter saw or other saw to cut wood lath

sander or sandpaper and some elbow grease

This is how I put it all together:

If you're cutting your lath with a miter saw, like I did, it's fairly difficult to get all the pieces exactly the same length. No worries - just move them around in the design until they fit together, then label them so you'll remember which pieces go where. You want the pieces to be fairly flush with one another, but a few tiny gaps won't matter at all.

Don't worry about those little gaps at the top and bottom right now - you'll fill them in later with small pieces.

Yup, Dr. Pepper was the handiest thing I had to use as weights...

I painted, sanded, antiqued, decided I didn't like it, sanded most of it off, painted again, sanded some more, added a teeny bit of antiquing, and called it good. You, however, could simply paint or stain your tray and just be happy with how it looks the first time :)

All told, I spent a couple of hours on three or four different days working on the tray. It wasn't a huge amount of work, but getting all the pieces to the right size took a little time. If you're interested in this project but don't want to invest too much time, consider making a tray with wood lath pieces going all in one direction, like this:

This piece is obviously much larger than my tray, but it's the same idea. I simply cut a bunch of laths to 3 feet long, then glued them all onto two cross pieces on the back. You could easily make a simple tray by gluing shorter pieces to an MDF backing and adding a border like I did on the herringbone tray. This large piece sits on my piano and provides a backdrop for whatever decor I currently have out and doubles as another photography backdrop.

(8 steps to better photos on AUTO, Easter chalkboard printable, mix&match felt monsters)

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll come see my other projects and tutorials at It's Always Autumn. Thanks so much to Jamie, Jodie, and Jen for letting me come visit!

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