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sorority 101: cooler painting!


Step one: Research

Know your subject. If it’s a gift for your date, figure out what he likes so you can make the cooler personal. If the cooler is for yourself, or a sister, do the same. Collect information such as where the person is from, year in school, favorite sports, hobbies, activities and fashion style. Is the recipient preppy, or outdoorsy, or total fratty?

Include the person’s pledge class, chapter, fraternity seal, crest, or flag - or all of these. If the cooler is for a special occasion, include the event name, location and date.

For design ideas search for photos of coolers and lots of inspiration.

Step two: Preparation

Sketch your design on paper first. You need to fill all four sides and the top, so preplanning for all the different surfaces is necessary. Decide on paint colors before a trip to the craft store. You can think of each side as a canvas for different scene, or unite the sides with a continuous background and overall unity.

Now it’s time to gather your materials… Buy your cooler. White or light colors are easier to work with because you are able to do some light sketching on the surface. And remember, the best cooler has a lot of flat surfaces, which are easier to paint.

Buy acrylic craft paint, brushes of varying sizes and paint pens. Paint pens are key. Outlining and fine-tuning with paint pens sharpens the look one hundred percent. Outlining with Sharpies is also an option. You may want to use stencils for words and Greek letters, for a neater look than freehand. A polyurethane topcoat is recommended for sealing the cooler after it is painted. Rust-oleum ultimate with matte soft touch finish is a favorite of crafters.

Also, gather any preppy logos, greek materials, fabric patterns and other reference materials you need to “copy” for your design.

Step three: Get Painting

Start with a light pencil sketch and paint one side at a time. Save the top for last, so you can handle the top as you work. Use your reference materials and inspiration photos. Let the paint dry between sides, so you don’t smudge the artwork as you work your way around the cooler. Plan on this project taking longer than you think!

When everything is painted, add your paint pen and/or Sharpie outlining to make the images crisp. When the entire cooler is painted and dry, seal with the clear poly topcoat.

Proceed to Party!


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