1. Sand. You've gotta do this before you paint any factory-finished furniture or the paint won't adhere well. I used to skip this step on occasion and I was always sorry I did. Just rough it up a little. Clean off the dust well, and you're set. Don't forget the clean off the dust step. You want the final product to be really smooth and dust will ruin that.
2. Prime. Like step one, this is annoying, but necessary. I used a heavy duty alkyd primer for kitchens and bathrooms because it was what I had on hand and because I knew it would be tough. Oil primer is hard to work with, but be patient and it'll work. Let dry at least a few hours if not overnight before painting.
3. Paint. I had some pale green paint left over from a failed wall experiment, so I used that. Interestingly, while it was overly green on the walls, on the stools, it looks close to white. Think carefully about your colour before you begin, because painting OVER a decoupage project is not so easy. Let dry at least 24 hours before beginning to decoupage. The paint surface needs to be dry so that the glue will adhere properly.
5. Place. Before you glue anything down, take the time to carefully determine the placement of your images. Move them around on the dry, painted surface until you're sure they look right. Don't skip this step! It's like the sanding. I know you probably just want to get on with things, but doing these things helps ensure a positive outcome.
6.Glue. I used Mod Podge, both as my adhesive and as my sealant. Be careful to use enough glue on the back of your cut outs to make them stick firmly, but try to keep the coating thin. Beware of bubbles and bumps. Press down to ensure none pop up and that the excess glue is squeezed out from between the surface and the paper. Unlike wallpaper, intricate cuts like these are hard to smooth down.
7. Seal. Again, I recommend Mod Podge, which is available at craft stores and art supply shops all over North America. They key is many thin coats. Use a foam brush to apply it, sparingly, let a coat dry, then do it again. My birds were thick, so I did a good 20 coats of sealant before I was happy. Considering this, make sure you have plenty of time for this stage. Save it for a lazy Sunday or something. I waited approximately 45 minutes between each coat (washing my brush with soap and water quickly during each break). In between every five coats, I gave the surface a quick, light sand with a very fine buffer block.
Voila. It's a good project. Not too labour intensive, though because of the drying times, you'll need at least a weekend.
Later in the week, I'll try to post a picture of the stools in context. Oh, and in case there are any interested birders out there, here are the fluttery fellows I used for my project:
- A male Cardinal
- Three American Goldfinches (shown)
- A White Throated Swift in flight
- A male Indigo Bunting
- Three Morning Warblers
- A Yellow Billed Cuckoo in flight