Monday 27 April 2015

Upcycling Project - Decoupage Placemats

I was beginning to think after having always been known as a 'completer/finisher', having left work after 30 years, I had turned into a starter off-er of projects, only never to finish them.

You don't know how pleased I am to be able to say that I have finally completed this project!  It has most definitely been a labour of love.

I'm not sure that this post fits into the category of a 'tutorial' but I did want to share my journey with you and let you know how I went about this project and the issues that I faced.

Basically we'd had the same Mediterranean style everyday, cheap and cheerful, dinner service for years. It had started to look a bit tired with lots of chips and crazed glazing from lots of spins in the dish washer. Whilst Martin and I still both loved it, we decided it was time for a change and put a sparkly new vintage floral dinner service on our Christmas list and Santa came up trumps. 

The problem now was that our placemats, whilst also tired, were too good to throw out but so didn't match the new crockery. I got that familiar twinge of excitement as I felt a bit of an upcycle project coming on. 

So here we are. I had never tried decoupage before but thought it was definitely worth having a go at trying to breathe new life into our old placemats and here's how we got on.

Step 1
I scoured The Range and got stocked up on decoupage paper, acrylic paint, glue and other bits and pieces.

Here is the full list of equipment that I used:
  • Set of placemats to be upcycled
  • Electric sander
  • PVA glue (+ water to dilute)
  • Small paintbrush
  • White acrylic paint
  • Emery paper
  • Multi-purpose decoupage adhesive & varnish
  • Decoupage papers
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Decoupage brushes
  • Heavy metal roller

Step 2
Martin got set to with the sander to try and take the shiny top coat off the top of the placemats. 
Step 3
I sealed the surfaces with a diluted mix of PVA glue and water (1 PVA - 5 Water).

Step 4
I gave each placemat a couple of coats of white acrylic paint.
Step 5
Then I gave the edges of each mat a light rub with emery paper to ensure there was no paint showing on the sides.

So far, so good. 

Then I was ready to try my hand at decoupage and so the fun began. I thought I'd start with a coaster. Being smaller I thought it would be easier to have a go at.

Step 6
First I drew round the coaster on a piece of decoupage paper and cut out the shape so it fit perfectly.

Step 7
Then I put plenty of decoupage glue onto the painted coaster. Then I eased the decoupage paper into place, very slowly and carefully, using the decoupage brush to push it down and smooth out any wrinkles.

Step 8
Once the paper was in place and there were no bubbles I gave the coaster 3 or 4 coats of decoupage glue, leaving each coat to dry before applying the next.

It looked great, I was really pleased and you can see how it turned out here. So, feeling confident I thought I'd have a go at one of the larger placemats.
My first attempt did not go well.  I ended up with paper full of bubbles and wrinkles and no amount of brushing would smooth it out. 

I asked for technical assistance from my engineer husband, who normally has an answer to all my technical problems, and he provided me with a metal roller. 

We attempted the placemat again, together, and this time it went well. I held the paper whilst Martin worked at it very gently firstly with the decoupage brush and then with the roller and we ended up with a perfect finish. I can't pretend it was dead easy and I don't think I could have managed this size of paper on my own, but we were both really pleased with the finished article. 

This one having worked out so well we were enthused to finish the other 7 coasters and placemats. 

The coasters have all turned out really well.  The result with the placemats is a bit mixed and some do have the odd crease in the paper here and there, but we got to the point where we couldn't work the paper any more, without it tearing and I'm not sure how we could have overcome this.
So, whilst the end result is not perfect, it is most definitely usable and I am quite pleased with it as my first attempt ever at decoupage.  Maybe this was a bit ambitious as my first project! 

And ..... bonus ..... it's one of my '50 things to do before I'm 60' objectives fully completed!


  1. I'm covering my placemats with wine labels. How can I make them heat-resistant?

    1. Hi there. really sorry but all I can tell is is what we did, which was to use the Modpodge type glue over the top. We do find when we use hot plates or mugs on them they do tend to get a bit 'sticky'. If you find out I'd love it if you could let us know. Thanks for reading. πŸ˜ƒ

  2. I had the same problem after mod podge. I experimented and found that clear polyurethane spray works perfectly to stop the cups/plates sticking to the coasters/placemats. I am in Australia and used Cabothane clear. They may yellow a bit over the years but by that time you may want to redecopage them anyway.

    1. Thank you. I will certainly bear that advice in mind should we re-do them πŸ˜ƒ

  3. This is just what I was looking for. Thank you for putting together this detailed post. Now to find some decoupage paper to redo my own water stained ones coasters and placemats... the placemate are round which will probably be it's own challenge. Wish me luck!

    1. Good luck Renee. I have to say … almost 10 years on and mine are still going strong. I can’t quite believe it’s been that long since I did them πŸ˜€


Thanks for taking time to comment on my blog. I love to hear what people think about what Martin and I have been up to.