Annie Sloan Decoupage on a chest – lifesize!

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After painting a Chest for my daughter Daisy, we felt George should have one too! The idea was to take a picture of George, do some Photoshop (CS5.1) work on it, to turn it into an outline image but still retain detail. So it looks something like a comic book illustration. I think I used ‘Filter – Sketch – Photocopy’ after turning the image to Greyscale. If you know photoshop I suggest just having a play with all those filters, you can get some great effects. In case you’re wondering, I’m a Mac man – Macs are great design tools.

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The chest itself was a late victorian with quite a bit of damage to the veneer and water marks and scratches all over – a suitable candidate for a makeover! I gave it 2 coats of Annie Sloan Country Grey, which covered all the marks and scratches. You might notice that I went straight over the metal handles as well, Annie Sloan is a great time-saver with bits like that. At this stage it all looks a bit flat and dull, I find it’s always the waxing that brings out the character of these pieces.

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Here we see the enlargements of the original print-out, as these were oversized I took them to my local Print Shop in Sevenoaks (Thanks Hannah at Ditto!) where they can print out really big photocopies for a small fee.

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The next job was carefully cutting out the image – as I wasn’t interested in the background. I wanted this to be more cartoon-like. I always use a scalpel when I’m cutting out images for decoupage, it’s a throwback from my paste-up days as a designer. I find it much quicker than scissors and much more accurate – but hey, watch those fingers – I still have the scars from my learning days! If you do get one, use Swann Morton 10A blades, you can get them cheaply from Art supply shops or Amazon too.

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After cutting out the image, I also cut it into the sections that would eventually go onto the drawers. I find this works best as it’s really difficult to cut paper that’s wet with glue – it tends to rip or bunch up – which is a real pain when you’ve got that far and then it goes pear-shaped. So cut sections first, even those little slim bits between the drawers.

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I used Annie Sloan Decoupage to paste the print-outs in place, trying to ensure the dreaded bubbles were pushed out. There’s a bit of a knack to it, but like most things in life, the more you do it – the better you get. When you first use the decoupage, it looks white, but it dries out and disappears. With the colouring in, I used really watered down Annie Sloan colours, do it on a flat surface or the paint will run. It needs to be diluted to allow the details in the print to show through.

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After I was happy with ‘George’ I could work on the rest of the chest, you might see I’ve used Craqueleur and Clear and Dark Wax to give some age and character to the chest, I like using craqueleur over decoupage – it just makes it more finished in my opinion. Anyway George seems quite happy with his ‘very own chest’ even if it is residing in Dovetails for our customers to have a look at!