Decoupage sewing boxes finished!

17 May

2 gorgeous decoupaged sewing boxes now adorn the insides of my sewing draw.

(That sounds like I have only 1 sewing draw. This is not actually true. I have many, but “The Sewing Draw” is the one with the notions, tools and haberdashery. “The Top Fabric Draw”, “Next Fabric Draw”, “The Next Next Fabric Drawer” have … yeah, well, you get the picture.)

Either I am not a good enough photographer, don’t have the right equipment, or it is just impossible anyway, to really capture the beauty of decoupage in a picture. It is so alive. When you move, the light catches on it, and refracts slightly through the layers of varnish and create a soft but glimmering effect. Intricate yet simple at the same time. Well, I think so, anyway 😛 There is a richness to it, as there is a richness to the varnish on my violin. And that is what I love about it.

I also like the work involved. Easy, but meditative and creative. Years ago some Tibetan Monks came to Darwin, and they did a sand mandala in the foyer of Parliament House. Hours and hours of intricate work. I tried to find an image of it, but I couldn’t. I think that is fitting, as they then tipped it into the sea at the completion of the work to symbolise the impermanence of existence.

Ok, so the decoupage I have done is going to last years, based on the lifespan of previous decoupage projects. But it is the same feeling of so much intricate work, creating layers and layers of beauty pretty much just of the sheer hell of it. You know, because I CAN!

For the curious, here are the steps I took (pretty much everything came from Spotlight)

  1. Gather everything together, get a bit of an idea of what I wanted
  2. Cover the boxes with a medium brown Folk Art paint to act as a sort of undercoat (the first coat kinda soaks in so takes a lot, so I used a random colour that was on special) I particularly like Folk Art paint as it is so densely pigmented. Mmmm! Sadly Spotlight seems to be taking it off their shelves. 😦
  3. Coat with light brown paint.
  4. Coat with a colour that tones nicely with the papers I am using (I have done high-contrast or complimentary colour schemes in the past as well as analogous ones. But I simply find analogous colour schemes more peaceful – as a bit of an adrenaline junky, peaceful colour schemes help provide balance for me.) I don’t get too fussy about completely covering the base coat. I like the complexity of the colours being layered a bit.
  5. Cut the papers in random ways then stick them on with the wonderful Mod Podge. I ❤ Mod Podge!
  6. Apply a few layers over the top of Shimmer-effect Mod Podge. (Well, it was on special at Spotlight one day. What can I say?) Make sure everything is properly glued down. I find even with great care the paper might not quite stick flat, especially on curved surfaces, so this is the step I make sure everything is filled and sealed thoroughly with plenty of mod podge.
  7. Apply a few coats of water-based varnish.
  8. Lightly sand, wipe off any remaining dust with a clean, dry cloth.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 till the whole project kind of becomes one cohesive whole, not a collection of parts.
  10. Finish with a final coat or two, of gloss or matte varnish, whichever is desired for final effect.

8 Responses to “Decoupage sewing boxes finished!”

  1. Pondhopper May 18, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    I really REALLY love the firefly box.
    Where did you get the boxes? They look like shoe boxes?


    • Tropical Threads May 18, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      Thanks. I love that one too (which is perhaps a good thing, after all the work I put into it!) It has a real softness about it. Nope, they aren’t shoeboxes. The cardboard in a shoebox usually is too soft for the decoupage to work. It works best of a fairly rigid surface. The boxes I used are just from Spotlight, some hard cardboard boxes made specifically for crafts like this. They don’t cost much at all, come in different shapes and sizes, and have proved really durable in the long-term.

      A friend of mine painted one with acrylic, and did no varnishing, and sent it to me as is. That was 10 yrs ago and I have been using it for my haberdashery ever since. It has had a lot of wear and only now getting a bit ragged.

      I guess with that amount of work involved, I want it to last!

      I have covered shoeboxes in fabric, and they last a phenomenally long time too! But the fabric is flexible, like the shoe-box, so it all works.


    • Tropical Threads May 18, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      You know, they are dragonflies! I have no idea what a firefly looks like, but those on that box are definitely dragonflies 😀


  2. Joanna May 18, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Interesting to read all the steps. The layers of varnish on top of the shimmery mod podge must be what gives it that deep sheen. I would be worried about the papers peeling too much for long-term use, but that probably would just mean I wasn’t using enough mod podge.


    • Tropical Threads May 18, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      Yup, the more layers, the deeper the sheen. The papers aren’t going to peel once they have a number of layers of mod-podge and varnish over them. The only peeling the papers do is sometimes I haven’t stuck them firmly enough with the mod-podge at the beginning. But that is easily fixed with a bit more mod-podge underneath before I do the layers of varnish. I actually do a couple of layers of mod-podge to start with and that makes sure the papers are all stuck down properly before I do the varnishing.

      Long term, it is actually really durable. The layers of varnish mean that that if the surface gets damages, it only usually affects one or two of the top layers. If it was only one thick layer, and it got damaged, the integrity of the paper at the bottom is more likely to be compromised.

      It is the same concept of layers of varnish on woodwork, or my violin. Many small layers are more durable than one thick one. (looks better too)


      • Tropical Threads May 18, 2011 at 11:34 am #

        Thinking about that concept of layers of varnish being more durable, I had a beautiful tray mum gave me for my birthday years ago. It had a decoupaged “botanical” style picture of a lilly. But it had only one thick layer of varnish on it. Something pierced that layer, and it went through to the paper and made a big yellow mark. I was so upset, as the tray was basically ruined (I loved it so much!). I tried to fix it but I couldn’t, because of the structure of the varnish etc.
        Less likely to have happened with a number of small layers of varnish, and easier to fix by sanding back a bit and applying more layers.


  3. Myrhiann May 19, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    I love the boxes, they are really beautiful. Both designs are very harmonious. It must be very satisfying working on them, like doing a meditation.


    • Tropical Threads May 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

      Thankyou 🙂 Yes, it is a bit like a meditation. Then whenever I look at them again the same feeling comes back, and that is really nice.


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