Following up from the interview, Kirsty is sharing a beautiful DIY Stool today. I feel the flowers are definitely very prominent, what with the WW1 events happening in London this week. So, without further a do, I pass you over to the lovely maker herself!
I’m a little bit wary of describing this project as napkin decoupage, even though that’s exactly what it is. So many of the projects which usually employ the same technique are . . . well, not really my cup of tea. Lots of country florals, cutesy animals and the kind of finished items my partner describes as dust-catchers. If you feel the same way, I’m hoping this mid-century inspired idea might change your mind. When I found these beautiful Marimekko table napkins a couple of weeks ago, I knew I didn’t just want to keep them stashed away for the rare occasions when we have people over for dinner. My original plan was to use them to decorate a large block canvas and hang it as a piece of wall art, but then I spotted this white stool-slash-side-table in Habitat, and it was a done deal. Check out the instructions below to see how it came together.
Stool, table or other surface to decorate
Paper table napkins
Iron + ironing board
Decoupage medium (e.g. Mod Podge)
Fine sandpaper or nail file
+ Bear in mind that as you’ll only be using the very thin top layer of the napkin, the colour of the surface beneath will show through and effect the way it looks. As a general rule, it’s best to go with white or a very pale, neutral shade. If you need to paint your surface to make this work, be sure the paint is thoroughly dry before you start.
+ Decoupage medium is a magnet for fine pieces of dust, fluff and hair. It’s SO frustrating to have to keep wiping them off your work, and even worse if you don’t notice them until it’s dry. Where possible, work over a clean, smooth surface (I used my wooden desk), keeping away from things like fans and open windows, and shut out or distract any pets until you’re finished.
1. Cut out the shapes you want to use from the napkin, leaving a very narrow border around the edge. If the background of your napkin is a contrasting colour (i.e. not white), you might find it’s more effect to cut right up to the outline.
2. Peel away the backing layers of paper so you’re just left with the top, coloured piece. Use a warm iron to smooth out any wrinkles or creases (turn off the steam setting first).
3. Brush a thin layer of decoupage medium or Mod Podge onto the surface of the stool, covering an area slightly larger than your first paper shape. Place the shape on top of the adhesive, tapping it very gently into place. Dip your brush into the Mod Podge again and spread a layer over the whole of the shape, working from the centre out. The paper will retain some wrinkles, but brushing over the top helps to smooth it out and make sure it’s fully adhered to the surface.
4. Add more paper shapes in the same way. I used the original print (it’s called Unikko) as a guide, but you might prefer to create your own, more random design instead. Allow the shapes to overhang when you reach the edges; the paper napkin pieces are very fragile while wet, and really prone to tearing.
TIP: If you do tear a piece as you’re working, the best thing to do is carefully remove it with a damp cloth or baby wipe before it dries, and try again.
5. Once you’ve covered the whole piece, set it aside to dry, and then use a craft knife to carefully trim away excess paper from the edges. Tidy up any rough edges by gently rubbing with a fine-grit sandpaper or soft nail file.
6. To seal and protect the finished surface, brush on a couple of extra coats of decoupage medium or some clear varnish (matt or glossy, as preferred).
That’s it! Pretty straightforward, right? If you’re at all daunted by the size of the project, have a go at working on a smaller piece first. I used the same technique to decorate a couple of painted jam jars (you can find the project in Paperie). It’s a really inexpensive way to try out the idea before committing to something bigger.
I hope you might feel inspired to give your own napkin decoupage project a go, or maybe just to look at paper projects in a different way. Scrapbooking and card-making are fantastic, but the possibilities definitely don’t stop there!
And, if you want to know a bit more about Kirsty Neale herself, then take a read of the interview she did here on Tuesday 5th August. Next week, we have Emily, owner of Fawn and Peach, sharing an interview with us. You can catch Emily on Tuesday 12th August.