Childers, who worked in graphic design at her family’s embroidery company before becoming a stay-at-home mother, said she wanted a hobby because her children were growing up, but she was unwilling to invest a lot of money in it.
“Canvases cost so much. So I went to the thrift store, and I thought, ‘I wonder if I can paint that (a desk),” Childers said.
Childers bought dozens of discarded desks from thrift stores and yard sales as well as her alma mater, Walker High School.
The variety of designs she came up with for them included fire trucks, mermaids, dinosaurs, flowers, construction equipment, trains, cartoon characters and zebra prints.
When word of her artwork spread, Childers began receiving requests for specific themes.
One of the pieces she takes most pride in is an 18-wheeler that she painted for a truck driver. The man sent a picture of his diesel for her to recreate on a desk for his little boy.
Childers said the most meticulous designs, such as the 18-wheeler, sometimes took several days to complete, so she often worked on multiple desks at once.
“I didn’t really have a place to paint. So I took all of the furniture out of my living room, put down a big cloth and lined them up just like you would see in a classroom,” Childers said.
Childers’ cousin, Erin Drummond, convinced her to participate in Art in the Park in 2010, and she walked away with a second place award.
“I couldn’t believe it because I hadn’t painted since high school,” Childers said.
When her daughter ran for homecoming queen at Sumiton Christian High School, Childers started selling the desks as a fundraiser and earned more than $3,000 for the school.
The desks sold for between $100 and $150, depending on the level of detail in the design.
Childers said she lost track of how many desks she painted during that time, but she estimates that it was several dozen. A Facebook page that a relative set up for her contains more than 70 pictures of her work.
Although all of the painted desks have now either been sold or given away, Childers said she has a few in storage in case she decides to take up the project again.
“The fun part of it is cleaning off the gum,” Childers said jokingly.
Childers added that her next project is a mural of heaven that she plans to paint in a room of her house.