I wanted to build a table that was extremely useful, fit into the little room, and was memorable enough that I would want to transport it with me forever. I did it!
With a small space to work with (about 8.5′ x 12′) I didn’t need much, and the Super Simple $50 Bench from Family Handyman was truly simple and cheap. After raiding the damaged lumber pile at Home Depot, I probably have $30 into it. Building the second one was tougher, as the wall had a closet pushout and a radiator to build around, but soon I had two well-built tables. Things were already feeling more industrial than creatively playful in there though, and then I remembered the cement footprints!
As a very small (5 year old?) kid, my parents had my sister and I add our hand prints and footprints to a ‘wet’ cement step at our house. After we moved, my Dad went back and bought this piece of cement, eventually integrating it into a new cement porch step with our new full-size hand and footprints added in. That step may still be there in Kinney, PA, or it may be long gone, but the point is that it meant a lot to my Dad and now I understand why. The only part I didn’t like was the cement part… and now I had an idea.
The setup is pretty easy…. put the piece of plywood inside one of the many Ikea boxes we had lying around, add lots of tempera paint, strip our boys down so we could put them in the shower afterwards, and turn them loose!
Why is it red? Well it is a kid covered in paint problem. They were covered, and I was covered. I picked up our youngest (M) and carried him into the shower. By the time I got back, our oldest R had already squiggled his way around the tabletop many times, and what was once swirled was reddish purple.
After about a week of drying (the tempera paint was very thick in sections), I convinced them for another painting round. Holding M and R by their armpits, I dipped them in white paint and lowered them until they could add handprints and footprints in white. In black sharpie, I added their names and the date to the prints (just like the cement steps), and then covered everything over with 5 coats of polyurethane to make it waterproof and long-lasting.
If the house is burning down and the family is safe, I am going back in for those plywood table tops!