Find Out Fridays

Find Out Fridays: The Art of Decoupage

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Today’s Find Out Friday is for a product that I use regularly for my shop: decoupage.

Decoupage (trademarked name Mod Podge) is a shifty character. Don’t get me wrong – I use it so regularly I should buy stock – but it can be a a straight-up jerk sometimes. Today I’m going to share my top five tips for using it, in hopes of optimizing your decoupage experience.

1.) Different formulas are made for a reason. There are a plethora of different formulations and sheens of decoupage. Paper is a slightly different formula than Hard Coat and doesn’t make your paper as damp and heavy. Outdoor is waterproof. Make sure you match the Mod Podge to your project.

2.) Sponge Brushes are best. I learned this lesson the hard way. I bought a pack of bristled brushes (say that ten times fast!)  thinking I was being frugal, and then the bristles would just come loose in my beautifully decoupaged item. Needless to say, it’s infuriating, and your fingers just end up sticky. Save yourself some heartache, and splurge for sponge brushes.

3.) Bubbles don’t have to happen. Don’t you hate it when you’re putting on the final layer of decoupage and then you notice your paper is bubbling? Nothing is quite as good for inducing screams as that. But never fear, I have a sure fire technique to prevent bubbles (with pictures…shout out to my visual learners).

Apply a thin, even coat for your first bottom layer to the object you’re decoupaging with a sponge brush (no bristles allowed here!)Processed with VSCO with c1 preset.

Place your paper/material on top, and then smooth out with even pressure using an old store loyalty card. This is hands down one of the best and cheapest tools in your crafting toolbox.

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This will help it adhere that much better. Then, I push each side down to ensure the edges adhere.

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Flip the object over, so the face of the item/paper material side is now on the bottom and the back of your object is on the top. Place something heavy on top. A stack of books, a large jar of rocks, a big bottle of mod podge, student loan debt (haha, just kidding), whatever is heavy and will apply even pressure throughout the surface area of your object. Or, even better, if you have a space bag/vacuum sealing bag, place your drying item in there, and seal it. If you haven’t guessed it, even pressure and consistency is key through this whole process.

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…And then walk away. Yep, walk away. Give that puppy some time to dry. The Plaid site suggests 5 minutes, but I say no; give it half an hour.

After that, it’s safe to take the heavy item off, and apply your final coat(s) this time not with a liquid and brush, but a SPRAY. I find that any clear satin coat decoupage or spray paint does the trick. Keeps it durable, and no bubbles! Then I touch up any edges with mod podge and let dry. See, no bubbles!

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4.) If Bubbles Happen, You Can Fix Them. If you get an unruly bubble, take a small pin and gently pop it from a side that is least noticeable. Then gently smooth it, and apply a little more decoupage with a small brush to the pinhole area.

5.) In a Pinch? Make Your Own Decoupage. I honestly prefer the brand name stuff for items I sell and for durability’s sake. However, when I’ve run out before, you can make some homemade with this recipe:

  • In a glass jar, pour out an entire bottle of plain white glue, such as Elmer’s Glue All. School Glue is ok too, but I find non-washable formula is most durable and gives you the best coat.
  • Add 1/3-1/2 cup of water and mix, mix, mix. All done!

So there you have it, my best tips for decoupage. What do you think? Will you be using it on a project in the near future? I’d love to hear about it!

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