I found this Antique (Victorian) tray at auction, looking grubby and stained.  The ‘man’ had actually (bless him) started cleaning it before I managed to take a ‘before’ photo.  So here it is after a slight polish.

Doesn't cost the earth tray before

Originally I had been planning to make it into a table – one of those lovely tray tables with legs that cross over underneath.  Kind of like this:table tray

But then I found a better use for it as a tray ON a table.  But I thought it looked grubby with that old varnish on and the blackened silver.  So I took to it with stripper…. You can see the dark gravy-like sludge coming off it, to reveal some beautiful wood underneath.

Stripping varnish

Once stripped it was a gorgeous and pale imitation of itself!  I think it’s Oak, although it has wonderful cross-striations in the grain.  To seal it, rather than varnish or oil, I limed it lightly.  This keeps the colour pale, but protects the wood.  It creates a lovely milky sheen on the surface.

Recycled wood stripped of varnish

Meanwhile, the ‘man’ was tackling the silver.  Thank god, as I just don’t think I would have had the patience for all that fiddly work.  You can see the little polished feet next to the tray rail, still waiting to be done.

Polishing antique silver

And here it is finished and re-assembled.  A far more elegant (and clean!) looking piece.  Tray chic…

Antique tray after

Of course, when I assembled it I realised I hadn’t stripped the handles, so I had to take it apart again.  Don’t you hate that?  It’s worth doing though as they really finish it off.

Antique silver tray handle

Time for some lovely beachy finds and books…..

Recycled tray after

Assembling objects on a tray, on a table, which sounds strange, is a great way of making them look tidy, and as if they belong together.

Tray with beach chic objects

A crocodile skull (from Darwin), white shells, a porcupine quill (found on a walk in Tuscany), fossils (from the coast in Dorset, England), walnuts, and tusks from Papua New Guinea all find a place together…

Antique tray after stipping and liming

The colours blend well together and the softer colours of the stripped and limed tray highlight the textural interest.

Limed tray with sea side objects

Have you got some old hand-me-downs that would look better for a clean up?

Recycled tray chic

Tray and arrangement