Well Hi There Crafty AF Friends!
Welcome! Before we begin, I need to warn you… This is NOT a step by step tutorial. There are TONS of step by steps tutes out there, each a bit different I am sure but, before you fall down the pinterest rabbit hole you may want to read this to see what I have learned… This post is really kind of a brain dump and, it is a LOT of info. But you are here for that reason, right? So let’s get down and dirty with the nitty gritty tips eh? Ok… here we go…
| THE GIST |
Decoupaging with Napkins is a pain in the badunkadunk. It is a bit harder than wrapping paper or other paper products ‘cause napkins have a tendency to tear easily(urgh!), be semi -transparent when overlapped(argh!) and can (and WILL) wrinkle VERY easily during the gluing process (Ackkkk!). They also are not very big so you (in some way or another) will have to piece this all together like a jigsaw puzzle to get full coverage. All this just means that you have to pay more attention to what you are doing when using napkins. You can get great results but you also have to be prepared for a oft times massive margin of error.
| MAP IT OUT |
First you need to figure out… how much are you going to stick onto what ever it is that you are sticking things on to? Are you going to go with sweet little snippets of your fave design (like above)? Or the whole hog full tilt boogie ‘cover the entire surface’ of said Pumpkin / Charger / Lamp / Dog or whatever else you decide to glue stuff too approach. Sweet little snippets are darling and make can be dramatic BUT, there is something to be said for the whole she-bang covered in fabulousness.
If you are decoupaging only LITTLE BITS then life will be a LOT easier as you won’t have any need to line up patterns or worry about overlap. This also means however that you are going to need to meticulously cut out the intended part of the pattern – lots of little tiny snips… grab your readers and be prepared for anxiety and possible carpal tunnel syndrome, It’s a B*TCH. In the end though the result is amazing. So, if you can be patient, it is worth it. *TIP #1 Be sure to leave the backing layer on the napkin for as long as it will stay attached. After you are done cutting out your intended piece you can pull the 2nd back ply off, use it to dry your tears of frustration and move along.
If you are going FULL COVERAGE (like above) and doing something like a whole pumpkin then you have a decision to make. You can either go the ‘OCD’ route and perfectly align your patterns OR you can go the ‘Not Giving AF’ route and not be worried about how it all lines up. Both have cool end results, it’s just a matter of what you choose.
- IF YOU DON’T GIVE AF: This is your option if you are going to be fine with overlapping designs and patterns. Totally legit- no one is going to judge you for this. Seriously. Plus, you will also have less grey hair at the end of this process. If this is the case then you can just move on to actually gluing. Just know that patterns bleed through eachother in this process and in the lighter areas of the design and you WILL see them.
- IF YOU HAVE OCD: Nice and Tidy… OK. If this is what you are going for- no overlapping patterns, no design bleed through, etc. then great! (this is what I did for my Caspari Chargers) Just be prepared for a lot of crafty math-like madness. Your napkins will not be large enough to fit your whole pumpkin (unless you are going with a baby boo) or charger so you will need to map out the pattern to align the design elements. When most napkins are designed they are designed like fabric is and have a certain and consistent “repeat”. Meaning that essentially every napkin is the same. This also means that you will no doubt go through a whole lotta napkins to get your design elements to fill the area you are decoupaging. Some may be small strips, some may be larger swaths. Just go slow, if you need to let things dry in between then do it- it is slower but a lot easier in the long run as you can physically place the next piece near the first to make sure you are lined up properly.
BUT WAIT…. There’s MORE…
- PRIME TIME: If what ever you are decoupaging is it isn’t already white then PRIME IT. Napkins are thin and will show whatever is underneath in the lighter areas. If you don’t want the color to change on the design then prime first and, be sure to let it dry. I use Rusteoleum Flat White Primer. Wait, did you hear me? Make sure the paint is fully DRY before you start gluing! Some tutorials will tell you to put your napkins on while the paint is still tacky as the paint acts like a glue in itself. Just don’t go there. Yes, the paint is sticky but it is not WET in ANY way at the point where you can manipulate the napkin’s placement once it is affixed. So, if you are SUPER confident in your placement skills go ahead and try that (which means you probably don’t need this post). If you are NOT? Then just wait til the paint is dry, and use your glue to adjust the napkin. Trust me.
- TRIM IT OUT: You are going to want to trim the perforated edges of the napkin off. They just don’t hold up to the glue and look funky and bubbly if left on. This also means that you are going to have less napkin to work with so you will want to take that into consideration when buying your napkins. Pretty much triple the number you think you will need. Worst case scenario? You have extra (matching) nappies to rest your chilled champers on when you are ready to toast yourself for surviving this undertaking. HOWEVER…I will let you know that the cute blue striping on the white Caspari napkin pumpkins actually IS the edge… so it can be done. It just isn’t AS smooth of a finish as the rest of the surface area. Oh, and P.S… this whole operation works WAY better when you work in smaller sections and use smaller pieces of napkins. Additionally you may find yourself trimming on the fly or cutting into the napkin around a bump or bend to make it lay flat. If you sew you will likely know that this is necessary to get a clean corner or edge- cutting in helps TREMENDOUSLY.
- WHAT PART DO I USE? Use only the top layer of the napkin. The other backing layers don’t have any glue between them so leaving them on makes the end result funky looking. If you are cutting out certain design elements you are going to want to keep those napkin backing layers ON while you are cutting out- they act as a stabilizer. Otherwise, you are going to feel like you are working with toilet paper. Once you are done trimming, cutting, extracting your design, etc. then you can go ahead and remove those backing layers.They will probably just fall off anyway as the perforated edges were what was keeping the whole thing together.
- STICK IT TO ‘EM: I use Satin Finish Mod Podge when doing pumpkins / chargers etc.. A lot of people recommend using a foam brush but I have found that it is better to use an actual smaller / medium size paint brush as you can work through the crinkles better with bristles. Plus, brushes won’t retain excess glue as much as a foam brush does. Which will give you better control over how wet the process is – something important when dealing with napkins. TIP # 2: USE YOUR GLUE SPARINGLY… For the first part of the gluing process you are going to want a THIN layer of the Mod Podge to initially adhere the napkin to the pumpkin, etc.. I don’t mean crazy sparse like dries in 10 seconds but sparse enough that it is not drippy. You want just enough that the glue doesn’t dry while you are placing your napkin on the piece and not so much where the glue soaks through immediately. It’s a delicate balance but you will see what I mean quickly if you err on either side. Mod Podge does dry fast though, so you will need to work quickly to get the larger pieces on and evened out.
- SMOOTH MOVES: When you get your piece adhered to the pumpkin / charger etc. you are going to immediately want to put those bristles to work to gently nudge the napkin into place. DO NOT press too hard as the napkin will rip or wrinkle. This step is just you trying to level out the design and get rid of any large wrinkles / air bubbles that may have occurred (and they will). Just remember- some of the wrinkles can be smooshed down and flattened when you go over the top of the napkin with a top coat of glue. If anyone notices or calls you out on your wrinkles then they probably shouldn’t be your friend. If you are trying to sell these then you should probably practice a bit more first because wrinkles even happen no matter what and to the best of the best but they can be minimized with practice.
- ***AND*** if you ARE trying to sell these.. let me just be the first to warn you that you will want to look into the art licensing and intellectual property law agreements for the company whose napkins you are using. NO SERIOUSLY… artists create these, companies license the work and each company has it’s own restrictions… be respectful and look into it before popping a bunch of babies on Etsy. If you are using these for personal use around your own abode then get back to gluing my friend!
| LASTLY |
When you have all of the pieces fit onto your pumpkin / charger, etc. and are happy with how it looks – LET IT DRY. If after everything is dry and you decide that it looks hunky dory then awesome. You are done. HURRAY! But… I like to put a final coat on at the very end to make things more permanent and provides a bit of a more cohesive protective coating which means multiple seasons and longevity. I like longevity.
So there you go… Whew, Right? ‘Bet you thought I was never gonna wrap this up. All of the nitty gritty insight that one person can possibly give you. Sorry it is so long but there is a lot to take into consideration if you are new to this process. You will get the hang of it pretty easily though and see what works and what doesn’t on your end. Then, next thing you know you will be looking all around your house to glue something else. It’s a slippery slope kids.
Good Luck and let me know if you have any questions or show me how your project turned out!!