I had a hankering to do this ever since I saw the Ikea table that my brother-in-law covered with vintage Italian comics. It was only when I came across these old kitchen cabinets used for storage at the back of our shed that I found the opportunity to follow-suit. As it happened, we were also desperate for more surfaces to put our growing army of Lego models on…
I cleaned the shelves up and brought them inside, but was still unsure about how I was going to cover them. Left-over wallpaper from the boys’ rooms would certainly tie-in, but felt a little twee; whereas vintage Italian comics sounded like a bit too much effort to source. I also liked the challenge of creating something from nothing – spending money seemed to take the fun away.
My luck was in when I happened to tell a friend about my plans. Unbelievably, her son had a stack of 10-year-old Beanos which he no longer wanted, so she offered to pass them on to me. Perfect. Then there was just the matter of sticking the cartoon pages to the shelves. I opted for covering them completely, then sticking nicer, funnier cartoons on top at different angles so that the finished look was a bit more haphazard.
I used PVA glue initially, but it was a bit wet, so also used Pritt Stick – although later found out that this lacks the durability of PVA. It’s probably OK for the upper layers, but PVA is the best to put the first layer on. Whilst the paper buckled when wet, it dried flat.
Finally, I put some Ronseal clear varnish on, thinking it would dry to form a hard coating like the coating I’d previously seen on decoupage pictures (my grandmother-in-law was a dab-hand). However, it seemed to seep into the paper to such an extent that I don’t think it really worked. But as it didn’t ruin the cartoons, I did three coats as advised on the tin. As it didn’t give me the hard coating that I wanted, I have ended up putting some off-cuts of transparent plastic loosely on the shelves to protect them from dust.
I asked my brother-in-law what he used and he said he covered his table with the clear sticky film that is sometimes used to cover the backs of books. However, I thought it’d be a nightmare to do it on the inside of the shelves and as I’d already bought the varnish and had the plastic, I decided that’d do for me. Although, would you believe, I’ve since found that you can buy decoupage varnish on the internet after all… it’s a mystery to me why didn’t I just Google that in the first place….!
Our guys now have some fun shelves to store their Lego models …and I have been bitten by the up-cycling bug 😉!