Choosing and Applying Images
Now comes the fun part, choosing your images. Once you have chosen the images that you would like to use it helps to lay them out before starting you may even want to cut out all of your components at this stage. By laying out your design you may make changes to your composition and you will discover the order in which to apply the images. If you are planning to decoupage on top of a paint color, I would suggest that you make a sample board. A sample board can help you work out problems beforehand and give you a good idea of how the finished product will look. Gather all of your materials and find a large area in which you may spread out and leave undisturbed.
List of Materials:
- Various sizes of cardboard (largest to accommodate your largest image)
- Brayer (can be found at art supply stores)
- Scissors with a sharp point
- Empty containers for mixing (paints etc.)
- Stir sticks
- moist cloth (reserve one for wiping your hands)
- Pan of clean water if there is no nearby source
- Foam paint brushes for applying glue
- Paint brushes
- Exacto knife
- Sample board (this can be a small 12 x 12 piece of wood)
- Wet/Dry sandpaper
- Furniture Wax (optional)
- Tack Cloths (cheesecloths soaked in varnish)
- Spray sealer for images
- Finishing Product (polyurethane, varnish etc.)
A sample board can save you a lot of grief especially if you are using materials that are unfamiliar or are decoupaging onto a painted surface. A sample board allows you to fine tune your color selection, test the materials and to know beforehand how your colors will look under polyurethane or varnish. Prime the surface of your board as you would the furniture. Apply the paint (if you are unsure of the color or painting technique it is helpful to visually divide your board into sections, one for each color) and apply the sample image in the middle and finish. This takes time but mostly drying time during which you may cut out the remaining images.
When choosing images try to use papers of the same thickness. You may want to seal the images before applying. Cut with the scissors angled away from the image to create a beveled edge. Lay the image face down on a piece of cardboard and glue with either fingers or a brush. Carefully lift and place into position smoothing from the center to the edges with a moist cloth to remove wrinkles and bubbles. Roll over the image with a brayer in all directions to help adhere and for further smoothing. Make certain that the edges have adhered by rubbing with your fingernail or a smooth stick. If you are using a large image you may have trouble with wrinkling and bubbles, just try to work them out as best as you can. If you accidently tear a portion it can always be covered by another cutout. Once all of the images are applied, clean any excess glue with a clean moist cloth and leave to dry overnight.
Once the glue is thoroughly dry, wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove dust. Apply the first coat of polyurethane and let dry for at least 24 hours. You may either brush or spray the polyurethane, but make sure you apply thin even coats wiping with a tack cloth between each coat. When you can no longer feel the edges of the cutouts, you may begin sanding between coats. Use #600 wet / dry sandpaper and be sure to use a tack cloth. Sand in one direction. Leave to dry before adding more polyurethane. There really is no set rule for the number of coats, use your own judgment. A tabletop would of course need more protection than the legs or sides depending upon the use of the furniture.
This is really just an outline of the basics. Later I will go into more detail on each step and as always you may ask questions.