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Decoupage Table

  • wooden table
  • fine sandpaper
  • tack cloth
  • paint
  • paint brush
  • painter's masking tape (optional)
  • paper items for decoration
  • scissors
  • ModPodge or other decoupage medium
  • sponge paint brush
  • disposable plastic containers for paint & decoupage medium (optional)

Thrift-store furniture practically begs to be decorated. Anything wooden, you can always paint it. But why not kick it up a notch by decoupaging designs onto the painted surface? You can use almost any piece of paper -- wrapping paper, greeting cards, playing cards, or tarot cards, as shown here.

First, clean up the table or other furniture. Wipe down all surfaces, and make any needed repairs. Next, sand the wood so the paint will stick well. Use a fine grade of sandpaper, and, with a light hand, sand everywhere you want to paint. Make sure to get into any crevices or detail work too. After sanding, use a tack cloth to remove all the dust.

Now you're ready to paint! Lay down some newspapers or a dropcloth, open the paint can, stir it up, then dip the brush in. Smooth, gentle strokes in the same direction will produce an even finish. You may need two coats of paint, especially for dark colors.

On my table, I painted the legs and top edge burgundy. Then I painted the shelf and table top black, to give the tarot cards a more neutral background. If your piece of furniture has detail woodwork, consider painting that part in a contrasting color.

Let the paint dry overnight, at least, before moving on to the decoration.

Cut out your paper designs, considering how much of the edges or whitespaces you want showing. If the paper is thick (like a playing or tarot card), you may want to carefully peel away a few layers from the back. Once your pieces are prepped, lay them out on the table to plan the overall look.

I used a classic Rider-Waite tarot deck, which I bought cheap on eBay for this purpose. The cards were rather thick, so I had to peel the backing off each one. One card ripped a little, but no big deal -- imperfections add character! I chose cards that meant something positive to me, plus I threw in a few that just looked cool (those went on the bottom shelf though ;-).

Pour some decoupage medium into a shallow container, and use a sponge paint brush to paint the back of one paper piece with the medium. Lay the paper down in position on the table, and lightly brush the front of it with more decoupage medium. Repeat this for all the paper items, then brush on a light coat of the medium over the whole design. Let it dry, and then add one more coat of the decoupage medium.

When that's dry, you'll have a custom piece of furniture that cost little but your time!

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