DIY Bone Inlay Inspired Tray

By Kate Riley March 10, 2014

Over the weekend, I finished up a craft project I’ve been meaning to try for a few months – recreating the look of bone inlay with paint and a stencil. I love how it turned out and now this bone inlay lookalike tray sits on my vanity in my master bathroom to corral makeup brushes, jewelry, etc.

diy bone inlay inspired tray


I was inspired by images of bone inlay trays I saw online but as we all know, authentic bone inlay pieces are pricey, often several hundred dollars for just a box or tray. I loved the geometric pattern in these two colorful versions so I set out to recreate a lookalike with paint, but I chose metallic gold instead of a bright color.

bone inlay trays


I ordered a craft stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils so I could attempt a faux version with a basic wood tray I bought at Target. To create your own inlay inspired tray in your color of choice you’ll need these supplies: basic wood tray like this one; primer, white craft paint, colored or metallic craft paint, nagoya stencil, foam roller, medium and small artist’s paintbrush, wide No. 2 pencil, top coat for protection.

diy bone inlay inspired tray supplies


First, prime the wood so the paint will adhere, I used a spray version of Zinsser Cover Stain. Once that was dry I chose to apply a coat of Mother of Pearl craft paint for subtle sheen.

mother of pearl craft paint


To create the color layer, hold the stencil in place (or use painter’s tape) and roll on a light coat of paint with a foam roller – I used a combo of Rose Gold and Champagne metallic paints.

gold and champagne craft paints


It looks rippled and bubbly at first due to the roller, but after two coats, the textural effect is minimized. You can also smooth the paint with a small brush, brushing away from the edge of the stencil.

roll on paint


My advice: resist the urge to use too much paint. Instead apply two very light coats, otherwise the paint bleeds underneath and you’ll throw your arms up in the air in frustration and swear to never stencil again.

Apply the first coat, wait 10-15 minutes for the layer to dry, don’t move the stencil, then roll on a second coat. It adds more time to the process but the effect is a more precise result. If there are any glaring imperfections, go back and cure with a small artist’s brush.

Here is the tray in process without the dots in the middle, which is nice too. Hey I spy me in my pink bathrobe holding a camera in the reflection. Typical Saturday morning :)

tray without dots


I used a wide No. 2 pencil (eraser rubbed flat) dipped in white paint to create the dots in the middle.

dots with pencil


Once your pattern is complete, finish it off with a protective coat, I used Martha’s High Gloss finish which I’ve used before (see these Tiffany blue lacquer lookalike boxes).

high gloss finish


It took a full day, coming back to the project every hour or so, but the result it a really pretty geometric pattern that mimics bone inlay for much less.

bone inlay inspired stenciled tray


This week I’m working on a separate bone inlay lookalike project to be featured in print (one I suggested here) so this tray was great practice! Are you a lover of the look of bone inlay too?


  1. I love this! I’ve been looking for a tray with those dimensions for a while now and that one is perfect. Unfortunately it’s out of stock at every Target within 30 miles of me, dang it.

  2. If you were able to make this pretty box this week-end, you must have survived the 15 eight
    year olds with flying colors!!! It look great.

  3. This is too cute! It’s also the second bone inlay-inspired DIY I’ve seen in the last week or so, and I hope this becomes a new trend! It’s so different from what we’ve been seeing lately.

  4. I just love this! So pretty! I like the idea of combining the two metallic paints. I’m sure it gives it so much more depth than just one color alone.

  5. What a lovely little tray. I could use something like that on my dresser for holding perfume bottles. I love how you used an eraser for the dots….so creative……..

  6. This is beautiful, great job. Were the sides a little difficult since you have such small space to work with the stencil? The paint colors are awesome. Thanks for sharing. You always make the instructions so easy to follow.

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