How to Create a Custom Drink Tray Using Your Photos

JUL 11, 2015 updated May 14, 2021

PicMonkey is a great tool for taking your favorite photos and turning them into a collage. By uploading your collage to Spoonflower, you can create an endless amount of projects with added sentimental value of being extra personal. California based designer Allison Kreft uses this tool to create a custom drink tray using vacation photos! Follow along in PicMonkey with your own design to create your own!

Custom photographic drink tray

Allison: I decided to combine my love of photography and fabric in this design. I was inspired on a trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and decided to take as many photos as possible. I tried to capture some of the iconic landmarks to set the scene, then added lots of pictures of the little details that create the beach boardwalk atmosphere.

Part One: Designing the Wallpaper or Fabric

Materials & Tools

  • a collection of photos

  • photo-editing software (this tutorial uses PicMonkey)

  • a tool to create “photo filter” effects**

**Filters & Effects

Many programs will apply filters and effects to photos, like Instagram or PicMonkey. For this project, Allison combined several different kinds of Instagram filters with her photos before she started the design. One filter applied to all the photos gave them a faded vintage look, which helped to even out the color and intensity so the photos would work together cohesively. Another filter created the rounded corners on each one. Once you have added the filters, transfer the new “styled” photos to your computer to finish your design. This is an optional step for this project, but can be a great way to add another layer to your design.

Directions

PicMonkey Collage

1. Create a photo collage.

Go to PicMonkey.com and choose the collage tool.  Select about 15 photos that will work together for the design and click Open.

PicMonkey Layouts

Choose a layout that you like from the Layout menu at the left (the icon looks like tiles).  Allison’s design is a basic grid, which you can find under the “Square Deal” options.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 3.00.02 PM

To quickly place all of your photos, click the “Auto Fill” tool at the top center.  You can click and drag images around to change the order of them.

PicMonkey background tool

To adjust the white space between them or to round the corners, go to the Background Menu (icon looks like a paint palette).

3. Save and upload.

Save the file and upload it to Spoonflower. Choose a basic repeat on fabric or wallpaper. (You can use either fabric or wallpaper for this project; fabric has more dimension and texture, but wallpaper is slightly easier to work with.)

Part Two: Making the Tray

Materials & Tools

  • printed wallpaper swatch (24 by 12 inches) or fabric fat quarter (18 by 22 inches)

  • a wooden tray (recycle an old one or get a new one from the craft store)

  • fine-grit sandpaper

  • acrylic craft paint in a coordinating color or spray paint

  • paintbrushes (if you’re not using spray paint)

  • rotary cutter or scissors and ruler

  • Mod Podge (for fabric)

  • burnishing tool or credit card

Directions:

Preparing to paint

1. Prepare the tray.

Lightly sand the tray to remove any rough patches or sharp edges. If using a recycled tray, wash it thoroughly and sand lightly to smooth out any chips and scratches and to rough up the finish so that your new paint will stick.

2. Paint.

Paint the sides, bottom, and handles of the tray. Depending on your color choices, you may need more than one coat. Let the paint dry completely between coats.

3. Measure and cut wallpaper or fabric.

Measure the bottom of the tray. Cut a piece of wallpaper or fabric that is the size of the bottom of the tray. Test-fit it and trim if necessary.

4. Apply the design.

Apply an even coat of Mod Podge to the bottom surface of tray. While the Mod Podge is wet, carefully place wallpaper or fabric on the bottom of the tray. Use a burnishing tool or the edge of a credit card to smooth the paper or fabric, starting in the center and working toward the edges.

When the design is smooth, apply another coat of Mod Podge over the top of the design and the painted surfaces of the tray. Allow to dry completely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to add more coats of Mod Podge as recommended, allowing each coating to dry before adding the next.

Photographic drink tray

Custom drink tray

Photographic drink tray

Recreate Allison’s tray using her Beach Boardwalk design, a wooden tray and gold spray paint!

Looking for more projects similar to this? Pick up a copy of The Spoonflower Handbook–available for pre-sale now, and in stores in September!

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  • Hi Stephanie,
    The instructions for applying the fabric to the tray are in part two. Step four specifically talks about using Mod Podge to adhere your fabric to your tray!

  • I don’t see in the instructions when you add the picture to the tray. Did I miss something?