We made it through another week (well almost)! I hope that it wasn’t too crazy for y’all. This was the week before Spring Break for my kids so they were a little wound up especially since we’ve been having some crazy weather.. However, I felt like I had a bit more free time as I am not teaching all the subjects each day and I didn’t spend my week painting a cooler for formal like I did the past week.
This year was my second year of painting a fraternity cooler and I will be the first to tell you that the process can be insanely time consuming. I am not sure who thought that it was a great idea to make girls show their creative abilities as a trade off for being someone’s date to a formal but it is pretty silly if you ask me. On the flip side, the guys LOVE their coolers and really do try to take care of them (well at least my date last year did). This year I was able to knock out my cooler a lot quicker thanks to one little trick, a pre-sanded and pre primed cooler. Mine is from Sarah and Virginia on Etsy and made getting this cooler done SO much easier as I could focus on the designs and painting instead of sanding and spackling! Today I thought I would share the tips I have for painting a fraternity cooler in less time since in college especially, time is extremely valuable.
Purchase a Pre-Sanded and Pre-Primed Cooler.
Doing this definitely knocked a number of hours off of the time it would have taken me to complete my dates cooler. It also made it so that I didn’t have to spackle the logo (fill it in so that there weren’t ridges) or find an electric sander since that’s just about the only way to get the whole cooler smooth. I’ve always gotten 48 quart Igloo coolers and that’s exactly what this pre-sanded and pre-primed cooler is!
Plan Out What You Want To Put On Each Side.
Just like for other projects, you’ll want to do some research in advance. Pinterest and the Facebook group called “The Cooler Connection” are great places to start when it comes to figuring out what you may want to put on each side. Hopefully you know your date relatively well and can think up some things they may like but if not don’t be afraid to ask them for ideas too. Once you’ve gotten a general idea of what to include I would recommend scaling those images and printing them out to have as a reference as you’re working on your cooler.
Purchase All your Supplies At Once.
Once you know what you’re putting on each side then you’ll be able to have a better idea of the paint colors you may need so it is time to stock up. I’ve found that by making a list before you go to the store to get all of your supplies is helpful because then you’re less likely to forget something and have to run out to grab it in the middle of working on your project. Some supplies that I recommend are:
Tissue Paper // Sharpies // Paint Pens // Acrylic Paint // Painters Tape (thick and thin) // Mod Podge // Clear Gloss Spray // A Tarp // Pencils
Use Tissue Paper to Trace.
I give major props to any girl who is artistic enough to paint all the designs free hand however, if you’re looking to save some time then tracing is your best bet. Don’t re-invent the wheel here and frustrate yourself because it doesn’t look just like the picture you are referencing. That will make cooler completion even more time consuming and frustrating. Instead, purchase a pack of white tissue paper and trace the printed image onto it with pencil. Center the tissue paper where you’d like it on your cooler and trace over that with sharpie (after you’ve painted the base color on that side). The sharpie will be transferred onto the cooler and then you can go over it again to darken the lines as you begin to paint.
Tape Off Anything You Want To Keep White With Painters Tape.
Painters tape is a necessity when it comes to making things go quicker. I like to tape off any part of the cooler that I would like to keep white so that I don’t have to spend time at the end touching up those areas. It also allows you to be a bit more reckless when it comes to painting the base layers. I also recommend using painters tape when you tape down the tissue paper to trace so that you don’t end up peeling off any paint and having to re-do it.
Outline in Sharpie or Paint Pen to Get Crisp Edges.
While yes painting can be therapeutic it can be frustrating to try to find a brush small enough to make super straight lines. I do what I can to keep the paint in the lines but am dependent on paint pens or sharpies to get the crisp edge that makes the paint stand out. Paint pens come in so many colors that it shouldn’t be too tricky to find colors that match the paint you’re using!
Seal With Modpodge & Another Sealer
Once you’ve *finally* finished painting your cooler it is time to seal it with hopes that all of your hard work wasn’t a waste of time. I start by using a foam brush and sealing the entire cooler with a layer of high gloss Mod Podge. After that I spray seal the whole thing with a very generous amount of sealer. While at some point the cooler may be bound to chip doing two different layers of sealers helps to put that off for as long as possible.
Don’t Forget To Fill The Cooler With Stuff You & Your Date Like
Lastly, the most important part...filling it. While you obviously want it to look nice on the outside I am all about putting some snacks inside. The whole point of the cooler is to fill it with some sort of alcohol (if you’re of age) and I’d definitely suggest getting something you both like. I would also suggest getting some cups, water bottles, and snacks. The pre-primed cooler I got also had another special surprise inside...lights. I was a bit startled when I opened the cooler the first time and all of a sudden was greeted with color changing lights. My date and his friends thought it was so cool that I probably could have gotten away with not even painting the outside. Sarah and Virginia offers these pre-installed in their primed coolers and were such a fun addition as was the bottle opener.
Hopefully if any of y’all are preparing for formals in the coming month this will help you to save some time with cooler painting. If your date isn’t overly enthusiastic about a cooler (because I have no idea why any guy would think he needs 4 from college) you could always get them something else. Since I had already painted one for the first formal I went to last year I decided to get an engraved Yeti cup for the second formal I went to last year since I couldn’t imagine spending that much time for a second time in a semester. Either way hopefully this post will help you to save some time as you prep for a formal or paint a cooler.