I wanted somewhere to store either of my painting supply stash or sewing stash and came up with the bright idea of covering a fairly plain wooden box with some colourful designs. Voila, one hinged craft box: 40 x 30.5 x 24 cm (external), 38.4 x 28 x 21 (internal).
To decoupage, I used (i) a large paint brush, (ii) some Mod Podge gloss glue which I interchanged with an equivalent from Decoupatch, (iii) some Rustoleum gloss lacquer all purpose sealant, and (iv) some origami paper. In retrospect the recommended foam applicator or some sort of sponge would have been better for the glue as once the paint brush had been gummed together it left the glue fairly uneven on the surface of the box.
Firstly, give your surface a good wash and a light sand to make sure it is smooth and clean.
There appears to be an endless reservoir of information as to how to apply glue/paper so as to produce the smooth, seamless lacquered finish and not the dreaded wrinkly, bubbly discoloured finished.
I think the best advice I managed to distill from watching various how-to videos (and which didn’t produce flawless results, I’m afraid) is to put a fine layer of glue on the surface of the box/back of the paper to stick it down and make sure you pay particular attention to the edges and corners, especially when overlapping your paper. Then, wait for this to completely dry before adding your top coat.
The top coat can be either more Mod Podge/Decoupatch (a think layer this time), or some sort of separate sealant. I like aerosols because they are neater (fewer fingers gummed together) and give an even finish if you hold 30cm away and move in a steady line. Either way, pay attention to sealing edges and make sure you don’t accidentally glue/seal the lid of the box closed! I think I did about 10 or so coats of the sealant, one morning, one evening, leaving the layer below to completely dry over the intervening day or night. That resulted in a nice smooth, shiny waterproof finish.
Here, hidden at the bottom, I will reveal my utterly lamentable first attempt at this which eventually had to be sanded/steamed/nail varnish remover soaked off… It was terrible. I heartily recommend testing the decoupage on a small scrap of the fabric/paper first so that you can eliminate the entirely bizarre reaction I got here.
Why did it go so wrong? Firstly, the paper (a gorgeous, Caspari Coral Chinoisserie gift wrap… I’m so sorry…) reacted badly with the glue so that coral became… splotchy mustard. Then, as it was a thick, water resistant texture the glue didn’t absorb until late in the drying process resulting in air bubbles and wrinkles which were like the motion of techtonic plates.
If you wish to risk it, Spoonflower do a lovely range of Chinoisserie designs for fabric and paper here.