Painting Coolers...a pastime that is experienced by sorority girls everywhere. For those not in the "know", when a member of a fraternity asks a girl to a formal, mountain weekend, or other monumentous event, they often expect a fabulous painted cooler in return for a weekend spent with them. When my boyfriend and I started dating, I knew that a painted cooler was somewhere in my future if I were to be asked to his spring formal in New Orleans. I was asked, and in early February, the cooler preparations began.
The first step in the cooler making process is picking the perfect cooler. My man asked for a "big cooler with wheels", and I stumbled upon this cooler at walmart. It was a good price, it fulfilled his requirements, and had nifty cupholders on the lid, so I was sold.
I then began the process of getting the cooler ready to paint. I purchased sanding blocks that were a lifesaver when sanding the whole cooler! It is SO important to sand the cooler. If you sand correctly, the primer will go on flawlessly and then the subsequent paint will bond and prevent peeling later on! I was not a fan of the indented logos on the sides and of the cooler and thought they would be a pain to paint, and so I purchased bond, which is an automobile body filler, but it worked perfectly! I put it on and waited for it to dry and then sanded it down, and repeated the process several times until it was to the level of smoothness that I wanted (see the grey parts of the cooler below in the middle picture). It was finally time to prime! I taped off everything I knew that I did not want to paint, and decided to go with a spray primer- and after two bottles it was totally perfect!
It was finally time to paint. I combed through Pinterest and the Cooler Connection (a group on facebook- if you are not a member and you want to paint a cooler, you should be!) After deciding what designs I wanted to paint (I made an entire word document, this is serious business), It was time to start sketching. Since I started a couple months early, I wasn't rushed and that made the process so much easier! I freehanded the entire thing, which involved an incredible amount of sketching, erasing, then sketching and erasing again, over and over.
Since there was so much paint involved in this, my mom and I went to michaels and used a whole bunch of coupons! I just used the michaels brand of paint, and after a couple of coats of it on my designs, they all turned out great.
I started this cooler in February, and three days before formal I was sealing the cooler on the back porch of my sorority house (sorry to our sweet house mother, Miss Liz!). My fabulous roommate has painted four coolers, and recommended this sealant, and I was so happy with the results. I would spray everything, set my alarm for thirty minutes, and then come out and spray again! I ended up going through two and a half cans of this sealant, and if I did it again I would have gone completely through all three, but I would highly recommend this sealant! It worked so well for me, and was easy to use.
The finished product is something I am so proud of! My man is from Texas, and loves everything about his state. I included Texas (of course), his favorite hobby (hunting), his favorite team (the Dallas Cowboys), and camo (sadly, his favorite pattern, although we are working on that). The sweetwater side I did because I loved it and it threw a "Georgia" aspect onto the cooler, and then the Vineyard Vine's top and bowties were purely for me, but he loved them! When I revealed the cooler, his reaction made everything worth it. He was so excited about it and just kept commenting on how much he loved it!
My mom had the brilliant idea to add "solo cups" to the cooler! We purchased four party cups and added vinyl monograms to them! They were the perfect touch to the cooler.
After the whole weekend, the cooler held up perfectly (unlike some, look at the one in the back- eek!) Not only did it keep everything cold, but Aspen could not help showing it off to all of his friends! It made the weeks and weeks of work completely worth it.
New Orleans was a whirlwind of fun, full of southern food, sightseeing, and the best beignets I have ever had (check out Cafe du Monde if you ever have the chance). I can't wait until the next time I find myself on Bourbon Street!