I always love me some vintage. So once in a while, I think of mini projects where I could somehow incorporate a little or a lot of vintage, depending on my whim. And, as is my wont, I did not look any further than my apartment for a blank canvas. There is always something I could use - a blank shirt, an empty bottle of wine, a worn out luggage...
This time my eyes fell on a small wooden table I bought a few months ago for a cousin who was reviewing for a board exam who had a horrible roommate who took up their entire desk space, (okay long story....) Anyway, she returned it to me after her exams. Now I use it all the time, especially when I just want to use my laptop by the bed all day, which is most days lately. I should have realized sooner that it was just begging to be revamped. For weeks after its service to my cousin was over, it must have felt so empty and useless.
Here's how to make a simple decoupage table.
What You'll Need
The things you will need are:
(1) Thin paper colored cutouts or motifs. Think magazines, printed pictures, wrapping paper…
(2) Decoupage glue. You can use white glue, water-based glue, regular paste or other adhesives.
(3) Varnish. Generally, this is what you use to seal your decoupage. You may use other materials you know that would theoretically work the same way.
(4) Optional primer like Gesso or acrylic transparent paint.
(5) Optional sandpaper for the finish.
PREP THE SURFACE
Prepare the object you wish to decoupage, however necessary. You may need to sand it if the base is rough, wipe it free of dust, or apply your paint or primer to prevent straight-on absorption of glue during the next step. The latter is also important if your decoupage designs are not completely opaque, as it will prevent the base color of the surface from showing or affecting the overall color of your decoupage.
CHOOSE THE PATTERNS & DESIGNS
The paper designs I used were a bit thick but I would advise that for decoupage projects, the thinner the paper you use, the faster and easier it is to achieve the inlay look you are going for. Thicker paper tend to protrude from the surface more, giving that obvious "stuck on" appearance, and hence will need more coating.
True to the vintage design that I wanted for this project, I used these vintage paper stickers and cutouts to decoupage with.
Be sure to mark the borders on the surface where you plan your decoupage pattern to sit. You also have the option to totally cover up the entire surface, including the sides, making bordering unnecessary.
A one-piece decoupage pattern is easiest to apply, you need only apply glue on the surface and adhere your pattern into place. However, if you're working with cut-out pieces like I was, carefully and individually apply your adhesive on the back of your cut-out pieces (rather than on the surface of the object you wish to decoupage) as it would be easier to manage and arrange them in place this way. Most of the cutouts I used were stickers, so that did make my life easier too. Smoothen the pattern, remove excess glue and “bubbled” surfaces using your fingers or a rubber scraper.
COAT & POLISH
Once you’ve arranged the pattern, carefully apply a coat of varnish to seal your decoupage and keep it in place. Ensure that your decoupage does not tear. You may need to apply more than one coating, but allow it to dry in between.
In my case, I coated the surface with gel medium several times in more or less 2-hour intervals. I then applied varnish to it, and gently sanded it for a more finished and polished look.
I'm sure you already know that you can play with this method in more ways than this. Decoupage with absolutely anything over absolutely anything. You can decoupage small jewellery boxes, pots, old wooden stools, or if you're feeling adventurous, a ceramic plate or even a kimono.
This is art that has been crazy popular in grand, civilized Europe centuries ago, but the technique is believed to have been employed by Siberian nomads even way back before Christ. So go forth and decoupage! If 12th century Chinese do it theirselvers with their pre-electronic cutting tools were able to do it, imagine what we can do with gloss-finish varnishes, high-tech printers, and laser cutters at our disposal.