Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Decoupage Your Child's Art Table With Vintage Book Images

I have been wanting to get to this project for, oh, a couple of years now. My eldest daughter turned four this week. She has had this table and chairs since she was old enough to sit on a chair by herself. It is a simple wooden table and chairs, unfinished, with a particle board top. I got the set at Ikea but you could easily adapt this project for use with any wooden table and chair set you own. My daughter just turned 4 and was able to help me with parts of this project.

How to Decoupage Your Child's Art Table With Vintage Book Images
By Tiffany Teske

You Will Need:
- a set of wooden chairs and a table
- mat finish acrylic gel medium (although you could probably use thinned PVA glue)
- brayer (rubber roller) or credit card (to get rid of bubbles)
- a vintage children's book that is worse for the wear
- scissors or utility knife
- Satin finish Varathane (water based, low odor, cleans up with water)
- sponge brush

I had a book in mind well before starting this project. Our local library always has a bookshelf of books for sale near the entrance. Sometimes, the kid books that used to be circulating in the library's collection, are pretty beat up. In good shape or bad they are a steal at $1, which the library uses to buy more books. The day I saw a 1981 copy of Brian Wildsmith's Bear's Adventure, and I snapped it up. Even though it had pages that were almost completely ripped, it didn't matter to me, because I LOVE this man's books and his art, and I knew right away what I would do with this wonderful story. Cut it up and paste it onto something... By the way, Bear's Adventure will soon be re-issued by Star Bright Books, which publishes many wonderful children's books.

Step One
Select the images from your book that you would like to use. Your child can help you with this. I like to use parts of images, overlapping them, not just laying them out next to each other. You can decide what you like best.

I like to lay everything out, with my daughter, so we can decide what we like best. We do this BEFORE even thinking of gluing the items down. I am pretty fast at making compositional decisions but some people like to look at things for a day or even a week before committing. Select the images for both your table and chairs.

Step Two
Once you have cleaned your table and chairs you can start gluing your images onto them. You can use whatever decoupage technique you might know. I like to use mat finish acrylic gel medium straight from the jar. There are pros and cons to this. I need to get the paper down pretty much perfect the first time, but I find it is nice and thick so nothing curls up on me. I prefer a mat finish because I think it is much more forgiving than glossy, since you see every bump and bubble with a gloss finish.

Here is the gluing process, step by step.
1) Brush your glue onto your table top or chair top. If you prefer, you can put the glue on the back of your image instead but it will curl and you will need to handle it with care. Remember to glue the images that will have parts that are underneath other images down FIRST.

2. Lay down your image how you want it. Using the brayer or your credit card, smooth out the image, pushing any bubbles to the edges. Continue to glue the elements of your composition onto the table.

3. Once everything is glued down you can brush glue over the entire table and chair tops. Don't worry too much about bubblse, they should break on their own. Put everything somewhere that is not dusty while it dries.

A finished chair that needs to dry.

4. Once your table and chairs have dried, repeat step 3. at least twice more, letting the glue dry for several hours between each application. These layers of glue seal the paper on the table so that they will not get soaked during the Varathane process.

Step Three
It is now time to apply Varathane to your table and chairs. I used satin finish. DO NOT SHAKE the Varathane can. This will create bubbles. Open the can and using a paint stir stick, stir the Varathane for a couple of minutes. It should appear milky, like in the image below. IT WILL DRY CLEAR. Apply the Varathane with a sponge brush, from side to side, making sure to cover the whole surface. You can gently break any bubbles you see. Let the Varathane dry for 4 hours, then apply at least two more layers. I did four layers. You want your table and chairs to be durable.

Let your table and chairs cure for one week before using. When ours was ready we took it outside for a little tea party. You can wipe your table and chairs with a damp cloth when necessary, otherwise just dust with a dry cloth.

Voila!! We love our new cheery. colorful table and chairs! We like the wood unfinished, but for even more color and fun you could paint the wood. I would suggest doing this BEFORE decoupaging, to save yourself some headache of protecting the images. As always, I would love to hear if we have inspired you to try this. If you have any questions for me please leave a comment. Have fun!


TopCat76 said...

Great idea and post, thanks for sharing. I'll be definitely giving this a try some time soon!

bareri said...

Tiffany, I love it!! What a great idea! Looking forward to more posts and pictures.

Serena said...

Oh Tiffany! It looks so good!!!!

Have you thought about using resin on the top? I think it would stand up really well.

jessica said...

this is absolutely wonderful. what a sweet treasure.

Marsha said...

I love this idea! My daughter (who just turned five) has the same table-and-chairs set from IKEA. We used to keep the table covered with paper (which she could draw on) that was replaced every once in a while, but I think we're ready for a new look.

One question: how smooth is the surface when you're done? My daughter uses this table almost exclusively for art, so it needs to stay smooth. Trying to draw on a bumpy surface is so fun!

Seis Manos said...

Excellent tutorial....and I have a question. Do the varnished surfaces feel sticky when it gets hot and humid? (Maybe that's not a problem in Banff, but it's definitely an issue here in Chicago....and it's the one thing [besides a shortage of time] that has kept me from doing something similar with my daughter's table.)

Tiffany Teske said...

Hi Topcat :) Please let me know it you do...

Thanks, Bareri! Stay tuned, lots to post in coming weeks...

Thanks, Serena! I have thought about using resin, which would be really durable, and I would imagine would self level to be completely flat where images overlap. I don't know much about resin, anyone else?

Thanks, Jessica :)

Marsha, good question. My table is not completely flat because I overlapped my images. It would be better if you set your images side by side but then you could still have seams. As Serena recommended, you could cover yours in resin. That should make it completely flat. My daughter uses her table for many things, and we have a drawing board the size of the table that she can put on top if she needs something completely flat. I am wondering if contact paper over the table would reduce any side by side seams... I am going to do some thinking on this.

Seis Manos! I am from Minneapolis so have spent some fun times on Chicago. I don't think this should get sticky. I have varathaned lots of wood furniture and I have never noticed it being sticky. A lot of it was in Maine, where there was humidity. I just did a quick search online and could not find anything about it. I would not apply it in humid weather if you can help it, just because it will take longer to dry.

Mod Podge Amy said...

Very cute! I love it!

Serena said...

Tiffany, resin is super durable (when mixed properly) and would self level. I use it on my pendants and love the results!

Back when Jason used to be a welder, we had some plans to make tables with the tops all set with resin, they would have looked great!

Linda Lee said...

Decoupage is a great thing to me & I found that decoupage is really fun and fantastic!!! Always looking for something which I can decoupage together with my 2 little niece which will make them excited.

Tell u what, they feel super excited when I told them we going to decoupage the art table using your idea!!! We going to start this project on this weekend!!!

Thx for sharing!

Tiffany Teske said...

Hi Linda Lee! How did it go? Did you finish the table with your nieces? Thanks for your comment :)

Linda Lee said...

Hi Tiffany, I din do it. I postponed to next round coz my niece want a decoupage bag 1st. I will upload the bag photo to later. If u hv time, Pls view it & leave me some comments ya!!! Thx!

Tiffany Teske said...

That's great, Linda Lee, I just went over and saw the bag. Thanks for letting me know :)

Anonymous said...

great! i have the perfect table for this, thanks!!

can't wait to try!

Widge said...

This is so cool! I love the set you have made, gorgeous images :)

My Urban Child said...

wow great idea, Toddler Table and Chair Set ART have a nice blog post, its nice, bonding for mom and kids..
thank you for the tutorial.. its very helpful..