I made a lot of mistakes adding graphics to this piece of furniture using Mod Podge and want to share what worked and what didn’t.
But first, I want to talk about knitting. Yes, knitting. There are 2 very valuable rules I learned from knitting.
Rule #1 – If you knit, you shall rip.
Virtually everything I’ve knit, I’ve had to take out stitches, aka rip. It’s almost inevitable. There are going to be mistakes, or things you realize just aren’t working out. Which brings me to this project. The first time I put the graphic on I forgot to reverse the image and realized it the moment I laid the graphic on the table. And Mod Podge sticks fast! I ripped it off like it was on fire but by then the damage was done. I had to re-sand and re-paint. The second rule of knitting was given to me by a knitting instructor when I screwed up a stitch and didn’t realize it until some 50 rows later. But one bad stitch can really stand out within several rows of perfectly symmetrical stitches.
Rule #2 = It’s not a mistake, it’s your signature.
If you make a mistake, just remember it’s not a mistake, it’s your “signature.” Every project is unique and subjective and it may not turn out exactly as you had planned but it’s also your project and you’ve signed it.
Back to the project. This end table was my grandmothers and has been around a long time. My mother refinished it once before and although it was in great condition, the look was very dated. I bought a 4oz sample of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Henrietta (purple) and wanted to experiment with it. I thought beveled and rounded edges of this table lent itself well to a more feminine makeover and envisioned some floral graphics with this purple color. I also used Annie Sloan’s Old Ochre for the trim and legs. I found a graphic from The Graphics Fairy of a lavender botanical print that I loved. The parchment paper color of the print was very close to the Old Ochre color and I thought it would look great together. I used the Mod Podge method: coated the “right” side of the graphic with Mod Podge, laid it on the table, let it dry, and then removed the paper by wetting it and gently rubbing it off. This is the second graphic – the one I remembered to reverse.
I initially painted the top center of the table in Henrietta. But as soon as I finished the graphic and stood back to take a look I knew it wasn’t working. Sometimes you have to be patient and add the wax because the colors do change and it can make a big difference but I didn’t think there was hope for this look. So I removed the graphic and painted over it in Old Ochre.
This time the colors worked much better together but the one thing that really bothers me about the Mod Podge method is being able to see the outline of the paper edges. It doesn’t look bad here but close up (next pictures) you can see the edges. I also realized that color doesn’t transfer that well and the flower and leaves really faded.
So the fourth time I tried it I used photoshop to remove the parchment color from around the flower and leaves, then painstakingly cut the graphic out around every leaf and flower, and then just stuck the paper on the table. The colors were great and I loved it but I couldn’t help thinking it looked just like what it was – a sticker. And that kept gnawing at me. Even with the glass on top of the table you could see the edges. Here are pictures before and after adding the wax.
So I decided to scrap the graphic idea all together. I ordered a couple of prints from Art.com and decided to Mod Podge a print to the top of the table. This print was my first choice but unfortunately I ruined it. My first attempt at sticking the print on the table was a disaster. The prints were made of sturdy paper stock and it was extremely hard to get the bubbles out. I put Mod Podge on the whole print and then stuck it on the table all at once. I do not recommend this method. Fortunately, I purchased two prints because I couldn’t decide which one I liked better so I had a back up. This time I applied the Mod Podge in sections as I laid the print down in stages and worked out the bubbles as I went. I still had a few bubbles and some creases and made some slices with a knife to deflate the bubbles but adding a coat of Mod Podge on top of the print afterwards seemed to help soften the paper and when it dried it was fine. It was not easy and I thought I might be ordering another print at one point but the Mod Podge on top really did help. On a side note, when I applied the Mod Podge to the top, I did so in a criss cross fashion to avoid uneven strokes across the print. Since Mod Podge dries fast and is very sticky, criss crossing the brush strokes really helped and it almost looks like brush strokes in a painting.
Here are a few close ups of the distressing. I used dark wax on the bottom edges and legs of the table because it really looked great with the Old Ochre color but it didn’t really look that great with the Henrietta so I didn’t use it on this color.
And here’s the finished piece – finally! It’s certainly not how I first envisioned it but I learned a lot from this project.