By Clare Miers Fort Worth Star-Telegram
With spring around the corner, it’s a good time to revamp your trusty old picnic basket so you are ready for picnic season and poised to prepare a charming, mobile lunch.
Try these ideas for making the old new again.
I was scouring a thrift store and saw the most pathetic lidded basket. I think it once housed a Christmas gift of sausages and sharp cheddar cheeses.
Something about it struck me as sweet. It was in the shape of a little cottage and, gosh, it came with tiny cottage windows.
I brought it home and started pulling off the holiday ornaments with pliers and sanding down the raised glue spots. The only way to salvage this basket was to layer it in a light paint to quiet it down a bit.
I gave the basket a couple coats of white/cream paint and hand-painted new brown-black shutters around the windows. I had to add flower boxes, too. Grass and landscaping went around the perimeter of the basket.
I glued on paper flowers to show something growing in the cottage garden. Sometimes I find paper-flower packets in the bargain bins at Michaels for a dollar or less.
I clear-coated everything to lock in my designs. This can even help the paper flowers to “bloom” longer.
The used-up gift basket made a lovely comeback as a white, Cape Cod-style cottage that holds lunch for one or two.
Basket paint job
You’ve got a vintage brown woven picnic basket and it’s sweet, but time and dust make it dull and uninspiring.
Pull out the paint and stencils, because it’s time to give it a new lease on life. If you improve the basket, you’ll be more likely to fill it and use it.
Use a cleaning rag and solvent spray to scrub your basket clean. Sand the finish to roughen it slightly. Clean using the solvent one final time. Let it fully dry, for a few hours, before you paint.
Even if you are painting the basket its existing color, a fresh coat will make it feel new again. Change the hue, and you’ll create a whole new picnic basket.
If you have exterior-grade paint left over from a household project, use it. This type of paint works for picnic baskets because it offers a quasi-water-resistant barrier for unexpected spills, pool splashes and sudden rain showers. Durable, wipe-clean latex will work, too.
Give the basket two coats with drying time in between, or follow the instructions on your paint product. Work the brush into the basket weaves and crevices. Sometimes it takes looking at the basket from many angles to make sure that you have covered the nooks and crannies.
Consider wiring silk, velvet or vintage flower sprays to the handle. Sometimes extra accoutrements like silk flowers or even ribbons can really perk up a basket.
If you want to put an artist’s touch to this and you’re good with a paintbrush and drawing, paint the basket creatively with flowers, garlands or another motif.
Or try a stencil. Online resources offer fabulously detailed stencils, and craft stores have many easy-to-use options for creating designs that look like complex paintings. Look for furniture and craft stencils, which will often produce the right scale, as opposed to wall-art stencils.
Follow the directions on your stencil and make your design using the appropriate brushes.
After the designs dry, seal the lid with a couple of coats of a matte clear-coat spray, such as Krylon’s clear sealer. You can also coat the basket with a coat of clear spray paint.
Retro sewing baskets
Sometimes the cutest picnic baskets can come from repurposing.
I have always cherished my grandmother’s large, woven sewing baskets. I have collected a few others, too. I converted them to picnic baskets, and I get to share their incredible embroidered designs with people as I fill them up with delicious lunch items.
No longer must these historical beauties lurk on a dark shelf in my home.
Gut the sewing basket.
Take out all of the plastic spool and needle separation trays to make room.
Don’t pack the sewing box so full of heavy items that you risk breaking the handles. Carry your drinks in a separate cooler keep them cold. Put lighter items in the basket.