Mother’s Day is just 4 days away.  It’s time to think about what to get Mom this year!  Sure you can go out and buy Mom that bottle of perfume like you do every year or send over a nice floral arrangement, but the best Mother’s Day gifts I’ve ever received are those that the kids made for me.

Mother's Day Subway Art Tray My recent favorite is the hand print tree my grandson Devon made for me (with his mom’s help) several years ago.  It proudly hangs in my hallway and I smile every time I see it!

I featured this last year in my post Mother’s Day Crafts Kids Can Make.  There’s a free printable of the poem they have under the tree in that post.  Click here if you want the printable or just want to check out last year’s Mother’s Day craft ideas you can do with your kids!

If you’re looking for a new idea read on!  This year I’ll be posting how-to’s for several craft ideas to make for Mom from now until Mother’s Day, which is on Sunday, May 8th. this year.   I’ve been making Mother’s Day gifts for the Moms in our family for weeks, I have to admit, I’m loving them so much I’m actually making some for myself!

Lately I’m really into Subway Art.  I love the idea of arranging words that are visually pleasing and convey a message.  I’ve seen all kinds of Subway Art on everything from framed artwork to wedding invitations.  I love it all!

On a recent trip to Walmart I found this plain metal tray, it screamed “possibilities” to me.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do with it but I just had to have it.

When I got it home I started working on Mother’s Day crafts and I thought why not use it to make a Mother’s Day Subway Art Tray.  A tray would be functional, pretty, and a perfect “canvas” for Subway Art!

There are many ways to use trays right?  I mean you can of course use it to serve food, but you can also use a tray to hold anything from make-up to letters, you can use it in a tables cape, and you can prop it on a stand like a picture or photo.

Mother's Day Subway Art Tray
If you’re not familiar with Subway Art it’s just a bunch of words typed or written in different sizes, fonts, and colors that are arranged in such a way that is legible, readable, and appealing.  The words can relate a theme, they can be the words of a poem, song, or  they can relay a message.  In short Subway Art can be about anything you want!  And if you do it yourself you can use it anyway you want.  You can print it out and frame it, make a stencil and color it in with paint, markers, or chalk, cut out the letters and decoupage it, the possibilities are endless!

(This post contains affiliate links to the products I used in the project)

Mother's Day Subway Art Tray

Mother's Day Subway ArtFor this project I decided to paint it on the tray using a stencil I cut on my Cricut Explore  on  Dura Lar but if you don’t have a cutting machine and clear Dura Lar you can still make a stencil using the template I’ll be sharing with you and card stock!  Unfortunately the Cricut Design Space doesn’t allow me to share the actual template I used to cut.

But you can download this template by clicking here!  Size it for your needs in Microsoft Paint or whatever image editor you use; print it out on card stock, then cut out the letters.  Voila! You have a stencil!

Or you can make your own in paint, Photoshop, or other image editors, or use a free online photo editor like  If you need cool fonts check out they have a ton of free fonts you can download and install in your computer!  (hint: open the box after the download, choose the font file, and click install.  It will automatically be added to your system fonts and will be on the scroll down whenever you need to choose the font you want to use.)

Once I had my stencil I used Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint to paint in the letters then sealed it with Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer in Matte finish.  By the way this project only cost me $10, the cost of the tray!  If you don’t have the supplies needed it will cost you a bit more, you’ll have to buy the paint, sealer, and a stencil brush.  The paints, sealer, and brush should cost you $10-15 depending you how many colors you choose, but you’ll have lots of supplies left over for future projects.

Here’s how I made this Mother’s Day Subway Art Tray!  I love it!

Mother's Day Subway Art TraySupplies:

Rectangular Metal Tray – I got mine from Walmart (you can use a wooden tray too!)

Stencil made from Dura Lar or card stock

Acrylic Paint – I used Apple Barrel brand (you can click on the link and get it from our Amazon affiliate or you can pick some up at Walmart or your local craft store – any acrylic paint will do)

Clear Acrylic Sealer – I used Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer which you can pick up at Walmart or any craft store or you can order from our Amazon affiliate by clicking the link – any sealer will do)

Stencil brush our Pouncers

Paper Towels to wipe off brush

Small container of water to clean off brush or brushes for color changes

Clean scouring pad – the green ones you use for pots and pans

Work table covering – drop cloth, newspapers, or whatever you have on hand to cover your work space

How to:

  1. Measure the area you want to stencil and adjust the stencil template to fit. (My tray measured 12″ x 18″ so I made my stencil 11″ x 17″ so that I could have a half inch space around it.  I actually had to cut the stencil in 2 parts in my machine – the top stencil measures 11″x 11″, the bottom 11″x 6″)
  2.  Cut out your stencil.
  3. On your covered work space lightly rub the surface of the tray you are going to stencil on with the scouring pad.  This will make the paint stick to the surface.
  4. Place your stencil in the center of the tray, secure with tape if needed.
  5. Dip brush into paint, holding it perpendicular to a piece of paper towel blot it on the paper towel to get rid of excess paint.  Blot on the paper towel until you have just enough paint on the brush.
  6. Working from the outside in blot the paint in the cut out letters.  Work straight up and down.  Don’t angle the brush, if you do paint will seep under the stencil edges.  Work from the edge of the letter towards the center.  When you begin you will be blotting mostly on the stencil itself.
  7. Continue blotting in the letters, be sure to clean the brush in water and dry it with a paper towel when you change colors.
  8. Let the paint dry for at least an hour.
  9. Spray with 2 -3 coats of sealer.  Allow to dry between coats.

You’re Mother’s Day Subway Art Tray is done!  You can even serve Mom a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed on her beautiful new tray!  Don’t put food directly on the tray, cover it or place food in dishes before placing on the tray.

You can wash the tray with soapy water when needed.  Do avoid scrubbing it as you will scrub off the sealer and the paint will wash off.

I’m sure Mom will love this tray!

Keep checking for more DIY Mother’s Day Crafts I’ll be posting them until Mother’s Day!