Have you ever admired an elegant urn at a garden center, only to discover that it was made not of metal or stone but of fiberglass? These containers are so attractive and affordable that it's inevitable they come inside the house and find new uses.
A large urn measuring 29 inches tall is especially versatile, because it is the perfect height for a table base. Combine it with an inexpensive 42-inch-diameter wooden top from a home-improvement store, and you can create an affordable accent table. Adding weight to the urn by inserting a concrete block or bag of sand is optional.
Easier to move than concrete and less expensive than iron, fiberglass urns come in classical vase shapes with timeless details such as fluting, banding, and scrollwork. The surfaces of these urns sometimes portray the gold and green verdigris of weathered copper, or you might choose a rusted iron look.
Work with stencils and paint products to give the wooden top an innovative finish, first experimenting on a scrap piece of plywood. You can get as creative with the paints and glaze as you wish, using any of the acrylics to tint the metallic glaze. Experiment with different brushes or crumpled rags to add texture.
Stencils are usually designed to be positioned very carefully and symmetrically, but you can create original effects by taking a less structured--and much easier--approach. By overlaying the stenciled designs, you can easily achieve depth, an effect that can be emphasized by shading with faint touches of dark green or reddish-brown paint darkened further with a small amount of black or brown acrylic paint. Between applications of the stenciled designs, apply a textured metallic glaze coat. Paint the edge of the tabletop to match the base for a coordinated look, and finish with a coat of clear polyurethane.
Step 1: Sand tabletop and edge until very smooth. Remove dust with tack cloth. Apply several coats of spray paint in a desired color to top and edge as a base coat, lightly sanding between coats. To tint tabletop and edge to match urn, mix acrylic paint (dark green for verdigris, reddish-brown for rust) with five to six parts water, and brush it onto painted surface. Remove most of paint by rubbing it off with a rag, but leave some thicker areas to create variations in shading. Allow to dry.
Step 2: Place stencil on tabletop. Draw stencil brush across dry stencil paint, and brush paint through openings in stencil. Repeat stenciling at intervals over tabletop, and allow to dry.
Step 3: Apply metallic glaze with a foam brush, covering one portion of tabletop at a time. Create texture by dabbing glaze with a rag or paper towel, but rub most of it away. Repeat over entire surface. (To add shading around stenciled designs, add diluted brown or black paint mixed with dark green or reddish-brown acrylic.)
Step 4: Create depth by positioning stencil so that it overlaps a portion of the previously painted designs. Paint design again as described in Step 2.
Step 5: Reapply metallic glaze as outlined in Step 3. Continue stenciling, shading, and glazing until you are pleased with the effect. Mix acrylic paints to match urn, and use a foam brush to paint edge of tabletop. Apply three coats of clear polyurethane to entire piece, according to manufacturer's instructions. Center tabletop on urn.