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18 Jul 2012
A treasure chest... from a cooler!
Turn an ordinary cooler into a treasure chest|sophie-world.com

There are a couple things that are certain about summer...

1. There will be at least one day where the draw of the great outdoors will overcome all logic, and I will inevitably grab my crew, gather supplies for a picnic, and force everyone to play hooky.
2. We will end up buying one of those cheapie Styrofoam coolers to keep our supplies cold.
3. The cooler will sit around until someone accidentally knocks it over, steps on it, and pulverizes the lid or one of the side walls...

I’ve lost too many coolers to count!

But this year, I have a plan. Instead of just accepting our cooler’s inevitable demise, I’m going to give it new life... as a treasure chest! We do boatloads of pirate parties, so we can never have too many treasure chests lying around. I also saw an idea in a magazine that would go along perfectly with our Styrofoam chest: the mom in the article took a huge pot of cooked green spinach noodles (the wavy kind), tossed them in oil, added a bunch of fun prizes, mixed them into the noodles in a big bin, and had the kids go “searching through seaweed.” I love this idea for a mermaid or pirate party (sort of a Davey Jones’ locker thing), but I wouldn’t want to use something as boring as a plastic tub, or ruin one of my already existing treasure chests. I realized that the Styrofoam chest would be perfect, since you could easily wipe down the inside after the party.

Now, there are some issues to working with Styrofoam. You can’t spray paint it; the paint literally eats Styrofoam! I discovered this a long time ago when I was making centerpieces for a fashion party, and we tried painting Styrofoam wig heads gold. My first attempt looked like a smallpox victim! Tempura and watercolors just bead off and won’t stick. However, you can safely use acetone-free paint, like latex house paint and acrylic art paints. You could also cover it with duct tape (like this woodgrain patterned tape on Amazon), but that can get pricey.

While looking through my options, I decided that I wanted something that would add a bit more strength to the cooler’s structure, so I opted for a third technique: decoupage. Decoupage is great because it’s cheap (just a mixture of ½ glue and ½ water) and easy. It’s a fantastic afternoon project for kids. You can’t go wrong with decoupage!

Here’s how you can make your own decoupage treasure chest out of a Styrofoam cooler...

  

A completed chest made from a cooler|sophie-world.com

I love being able to repurpose items that are just going to break in time or get thrown away. Right now I’m ready to boil up some pasta and set sail. Yo-ho-ho!