Tiling a Tray With Popsicle Sticks

I bought this tray from a secondhand store a while back. (But it didn’t look like this then.) 
The “before” picture of the tray is below.
 I loved the size of the tray…
 … and the dovetail joints… 
… and the black metal handles. What I didn’t like was the Christmas scene. I wanted to use the tray year round, and the Christmas trees and holly looked a little odd when I was carrying it outside to the patio table or the grill in the middle of summer.
 I decided to cover the offending seasonal scene with some wooden tiles made out of popsicle sticks. I already owned the sticks, and some of them had already been stained (for a previously abandoned project). 
I measured and marked the sticks to cut them into small pieces for the tiles. Initially I tried cutting the sticks with craft knife. Then I switched to a guillotine paper cutter. Then I used a garden pruner. All were problematic.
Finally, I tried a sharp scissors. Sure wish I would have started with the scissors. I could have saved myself a lot of time and aggravation if I had.
When I had all the pieces cut, I painted the bottom of the tray black, just in case there were gaps between any of the pieces.
Then I stated dry fitting the pieces together.
I used a simple two horizontal, one vertical pattern…
… and mixed the light and dark pieces randomly.
It was kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
I was hoping the rows would fill out the tray evenly…
popsicle stick tray
.. and they did (with a few minor trims on the last row).
popsicle stick tray
When I was all done placing the pieces, I had to go back and glue them down, one at a time.
wood tiled tray

Evidently my cuts were not all precision accurate because there were lots of gaps between pieces.

wood tiled tray
The gaps made the perfectionist in me a little twitchy, so I had to break out the wood filler.
wood tiled tray
I smooshed the filler into the cracks with my fingers…

wood tiled tray
…and wiped off the excess with a damp paper towel. (Ah, so much better.)
popsicle stick tray
Then I put a coat of wax over the top of the pieces…

popsicle stick tray

…and the tray was done.
Here’s the before one more time.
popsicle stick tray

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