There are different versions around and some different price points, but usually you can't pick one up for south of $100. The ones from MadeGoods are $300 and up, I believe. So, they're a little pricey, but I've been lusting after them for quite some time.
So, what is shagreen anyway? Well, the real deal is rarely used anymore, but here's a little history on it from Maitland-Smith/La Barge:
"The word, shagreen, is based on the Mid-Eastern word, Shagri, describing a rough hide. The art of shagreen was first used in Turkey during the 12th century. At that time, the coarse, durable skins of sharks were inlaid on shields and used in battle. Shagreen is usually made from the skins of small sharks and ray fish. The texture is what makes this interesting and different from other materials."
Okay, so back to my DIY version. When I picked up this tray recently from a thrift store for about $4, I had no idea what I was going to do with it.
I mean, it was pretty fugly. However, it was in decent structural shape, so I thought surely I could do something with it.
I got it home and my wheels started turning. I must tell you that I assumed I could take the back off and simply remove the doily art from under the glass. Um, well, no. Because the doily thing was painted on the glass! Seriously? Anyway, I forged on. I flirted with doing a faux malachite treatment as I'd done in the past on a box. Well, it didn't look too great. I think painting on glass was throwing me off.
So, while walking around Michael's inspiration struck. I was thinking of covering it with something (faux snakeskin possibly?) when I spied some plastic-y (no other word for it) scrapbooking paper that's meant to look like the texture of a basketball. Or maybe, just maybe, faux shagreen?
So, I snatched up several sheets (they were $1 each, I think) and hatched my plan.
I played around with the sheets on the tray itself (I had, by this point, painted the wood trim black and the handles gold).
Next up was some boring stuff like measuring, cutting and modge-podging on the paper. Then, I just started playing around with paint/finishes. First, I painted it with some alabaster acrylic paint. Basically just dry brushed it on, rubbing off any excess. Once it was dry, I did the same with black. Eventually, after several permutations, I used Rub and Buff Antique Gold, then a layer of black on top for this effect . . .
Here it is with some accessories just thrown on, not really styled (that's my real malachite box, by the way, not the faux one I did). I don't feel the rectangular tray really works on my rectangular coffee table (I would prefer a round one), but I haven't decided where it will live yet.
So, does it look like faux shagreen exactly? Probably not, but it's close enough for me. And it went from looking like Grandma's house:
To something sleek and stylish:
What are your thoughts?